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Tasavallan Presidentti - Tasavallan Presidentti CD (album) cover


Tasavallan Presidentti

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars TP is Finland's second-most important group of the 70's after Wigwam (both had English mother-tongued singers), but it was born out of the ashes of a previous band called Blues Section, when US singing-pianist Robson (whose voice can be reminiscent of Stevie Winwood) and bassist Goundstroem teamed up with brilliant guitarist Jukka Tolonen and the Aaltonen brothers (drums and winds). The debut album is strange and unfocused affair, where the blues crosses progressive rock, but there is also plenty of other musical references, from jazz to classical tidbits. Released in 69 on the inevitable (for Finland) Love Record label, the album sports a misleading Greek-mythical musician artwork on its sleeve, one that doesn't relater well to the music inside it.

The opening Robson-penned Back For More is a fairly good example of the mix of the album with a blues-derived voice and vocals over a prog riff, the whole thing not being that far from early Traffic, not only due to Robson's voice, but also Aaltonen's sax and flutes. The following Obsolete Machine and Who's Free are also like a bluesier and harder Traffic, but they lack the refinement of their inspiration. But the album takes a sudden dip with a crooner version (read involuntary pastiche) of Procol's Whiter Shade Of Pale with the near-atrocious Teddy Bear. The book-ending and amateurish-clumsy classical tidbits Crazy Things surround the prog-bluesy Drinking, where Aaltonen's flute and Tolonen's guitar solos take the spotlight.

Over the flipside, the hard-driving bluesy Driving Through track features some solid musical interplay, but it's not like we're in groundbreaking mood or anything. This could find space on a John Mayall's Bluesbreaker album, and this without the slightest disrespect. The album suffers another dramatic turn of ambiance with the cheesy narration over dissonant musical improvs during Ancient Mariner (check out David Bedford's version instead, but it came out much later), than another shift with the superb but heard-elsewhere (let you guess where, it won't be hard) Wutu-Banale, even if Steely Dan will sound a lot like this later. Woman Of The World is a hard-driving blues-rocker, where Robson sounds more like Gary Brooker than Winwood, but another untimely(and ill-advised) mood changes occurs with the rock-n-rolly Roll Over Yourself definitely ruins the album's cohesiveness. The closing Thinking Back is a fairly-dramatic (if a tad cheesy) piano-piece, oddly written by guitarist Tolonen, but played by him over bird noises.

Two non-album bonus tracks are included, most likely from a single released around the time (no details given), which are more or less in line with the album's overall mood and sound, especially the nice Solitary (again dj-entendu), while the jazzy Traffic-like Deep thinker gives an enjoyable final touch to the CD reissue. A rather enjoyable but clumsy debut affort, it's a little unfortunate that most of the tracks on the album have a dj-entendu or heard-elsewhere, but they are all attributed to the TP members. Certainly if they had not been Finnish and little heard-of, there might have been a few lawsuits thrown in. To be honest, it is limit-scandalous they got away with it. But this shouldn't take away the charm of this uneven and unfocused debut album that should spin once in a while in your deck.

Report this review (#27701)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I liked this album very much! The voice of FRANK ROBSON is more pleasing to my ear than EERO RAITTINEN's, who replaced him on the forthcoming "Lamberland" album. I would like to add BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS to the batch of bands, which were mentioned as the influences of these guys. Pressa's ballad "I Love You Teddy Bear" sounds a bit like "Sometimes in Witer", and Frank has a similar voice as DAVID CLAYTON-THOMAS. Along that song, my favorite tracks are "Obsolete Machine" (bluesy rocker), "Drinking" ("I want to go naked in the pub, and hit the doorman in the face" !), "Driving Through" (another bluesy rock song a l CREAM) and "Thinking Back", which is a beautiful piano tune by JUKKA TOLONEN, with birds singing over it in the vein of early PINK FLOYD tunes. The bonus track "Deep Thinker" is also an excellent song! It was on their single with the another bonus track, but it was also on their second album which was a really rare collectors item for a long time.
Report this review (#57958)
Posted Saturday, November 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would like to start my first review with this album. And what i'd like to say is that this is the best finnish rock album ever! I really can't find anything negative about the sweet 54 minutes and 50 seconds this album can offer to us. This also (As many of us already know) one of the first rock albums recorded in Finland. I think that only Blues Section recorded before Tasavallan presidentti, being also released around the same time as Hard 'n' Horny by another finnish rock band Wigwam.

Album starts with an Introduction. A simple song, about 50 seconds long featuring Flute, acoustic guitar and organ. The song quickly melds to the first "Real song" You'll be back for more. Excellent song with a killer riff that is simple yet flashy and stylish at the same time. Obsolete Machine is heavily blues influenced track with nice fluting by Juhani Aaltonen. Whos' free has some really stong singin by Frank Robson. Next tune is one of the high points of the album and one of the greatest songs by Tasavallan Presidentti called I Love you Teddy Bear. Really emotional Ballad with a beatiful flute intro. Crazy Thing NR1 is really worthy the name! Strange little song indeed... Drinking is ano of the highlights also. Story about a guy who would like to "Walk naked in to that bar and kick the doorman in the face". Crazy Thing NR2 is pretty much in the same as the NR1. Drivin' through starts with groovy bass riff and is all together, really good upbeat song (Not in a "Happy" upbeat way!). Ancient Mariner is an inch progier piece than the previous songs. Surreal instrumentation and "story telling" manner speak instead of singing. But then it comes! Wutu Banale! One of the four absolutely golden masterpieces on this LP along with You'll be Back for more, I Love you Teddy Bear and Drinking. Very special and atomospheric instrumental composed by the bassisti Msse Groundestrm. Woman of the world is good but nothing too special. Roll over yourself is a true Rock n roll song with great piano bashing. Last song is Thinking back, very, very beatiful piano song with birdsa singin in the background, composed by the band guitarist Jukka Tolonen.

One thing about the album is the members. Jukka Tolonen (Guitar) was 17, Vesa Aaltonen (Drummer) 19, Msse Groundestrm (Bass) 20, Frank Robson (Lyrics and keyboards) 23 and Juhani Aaltonen (Flute and Sax) 34! Such wonderful music by such young artists (Well except Juhani Aaltonen of course!)

All together Tasavallan Presidentti is "Quarter to perfect" LP by the the best finnish rock band ever.

PS: Since this is my first review, i wanted it to be long. Don't be scared, i won't review every song on my forthcoming reviews!

Report this review (#94082)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Soon after WIGWAM had released their debut single in the spring of 1969, the other Finnish prog giant TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI was founded -- by the young, highly gifted guitarist Jukka Tolonen together with his cousin and bandmate, drummer Vesa Aaltonen. Just like Wigwam, also TP was born from the ashes of the groundbreaking band Blues Section; it was most likely the former BS bassist Mns Groundstroem's idea to invite the British vocalist Frank Robson, who had replaced Jim Pembroke in the last stages of that band in 1968. Before Robson's return from England, Groundstroem suggested the addition of saxophonist-flautist Juhani Aaltonen. The foursome was't satisfied with the original band name Balloon, so they phoned a certain guy who was good at inventing names. The chap was reading a newspaper at the moment, and his first suggestion was Uutiset ja S (News and Weather), but "The President of the State" indeed sounds more serious. Urho Kekkonen himself gave his acceptance to the name. The group's first gig took place in the midsummer of '69, and the LP, produced by the Love Records leader Otto Donner, came out in December.

Despite some stylistic uncoherence, the album is a strong evidence of the band's excellent musical competence. As a brief intro there's an elegant flute melody backed by acoustic guitar, before the meaty jazz-rock starts. The second track 'Obsolete Machine' is my favourite of the album, with its fascinating rhythm pattern, Clapton-like electric guitar, fresh-sounding flute and the bluesy vocals of Robson, comparable to Gary Brooker and Steve Winwood. The blues oriented songs were mostly written by Robson and Groundstroem. The latter shows some will to experiment in his instrumental outburst 'Crazy Thing No. 1' and in the atonality of 'Ancient Mariner'. Groundsroem wrote also the beautiful rock ballad 'I Love You Teddy Bear' and the gorgeous final instrumental 'Wutu-Banale'.

Tolonen was to become a notable composer a bit later; here he offers a romantic, birdsong-flavoured 'Thinking Back' in which he plays his first-learned instrument, piano. The album's reception was warm and it received favourable reviews abroad too. Personally, I like it more than their second eponymous album, but I prefer the third, more complex prog album Lambertland with the new vocalist Eero Raittinen. Blues elements don't generally interest me very much, but this innovative album has more than that. An important early classic in Finnish rock music.

Report this review (#1670239)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2016 | Review Permalink

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