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Rufus Zuphall - Phallobst CD (album) cover


Rufus Zuphall


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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars RZ's second album, released on the now-legendary Pilz label, was recorded in Dieter Dierks's studios. Two personnel changes: the bassist (departing Lieblang was the lyric writer in the first line-up, and he contributes to three songs without playing) and the addition of a second guitarist Kittel. Early 70's German prog group always shared some doubtful tastes regarding their artwork (in this regard the rebel-rock attitude was more respected than their English counterparts), but here we are definitely with one of the top 10 tasteless artwork depicting a rotten pear getting devoured by worms and the just-as-ugly inside gatefold shows their faces as the worms >> yummyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!

Clearly better produced, with more musical possibilities (both guitarist play a bit of KB now and then and even a tad of Mellotron), with much shorter track length (max 6 minutes), this album is more concise and maybe proggier than the debut. If the first two tracks go unsurprisingly by with their lot of happy sounds, we are more intrigued with the lengthier Schupfner with its medieval-like guitars and superb flute: very reminiscent of the first album, it is the highlight of the A-side of the album along with a much calmer and reflective Waste Land.

The second side of the album is a bit more uplifting with the instrumental Makrojel opening strongly, with a jazzy feeling, but we are again in the typical sound of theirs. Actually, it is quite hard to recognize instantly which RZ track you are listening to without the help of the albums, as they had a "sound with which they rarely digressed from. Another instrumental track, Prickel Pit, follows with heavier riffy guitars, while an Derroll Adams track, Portland Town will become a concert favourite. The closing track is a rather slow developer (with them Mellotrons and a clavinet in the intro). But while there are some Folk influences on this album, to call this their main influences would be grossly exaggerating as they take up as much from the blues or jazz in the studio and live they were even bluesier..

As with the debut album in its Cd version, Phallobst now comes with 8 bonus tracks: the second part of the farewell concert in 72, and as you might've guessed if you read my review of the debut, the sound is bootleg-quality (marginally better at times) and them tracks do not really add any kind of value to the original album.

Again RZ was not essential to the development of progressive rock, but they were a small brick that was integral part of the pyramid, this album being just as good or pleasant as the debut. But if nothing worth writing home about, both albums do deserve the odd spin now and then.

Report this review (#31478)
Posted Wednesday, June 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second album by this sadly too unknown German band isn't as good as their first "Weis▀ Der Teufel" record, but it's still a worthy bargain. The sound is bit different, as the bass player has been changed, and there's a second guitarist introduced to the band. "Closing Time" is a good psych rock, with funny sounding vocals, as they have been sung very quietly and calmly over a loud rock'n'roll song about "a merchant selling peace". "Waste Land" is also a track worth to mention, a slow minor ballad with haunting flutes. Some of these melody lines resemble some old cradle songs I think? "Portland Town" is a great arrangement of a traditional folk song, now played with mellotrons and heavy guitar riffs. All other songs are also OK, but they are not maybe as raw and innovative as their earlier material. But I consider this yet a very recommendable album. I had my vinyl copy from "Avalon and On" box set, which also has the live tracks released with the reissue CD.
Report this review (#78693)
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have played my copy (an original!) of this album enough times and loved it to say that it is a masterpiece, an absolutely original work that combines westcoast styled psychedelia with flute and guitar driven progressive rock and folksy passages here and there, with tremendous energy and enthusiasm from the whole group. Rufus Zuphall are often referred to as "the German Jethro Tull" not only is this gravely unfair to Rufus Zuphall, it also is the wrong comparison for Jethro Tull as the flute is generally much quieter and I can't hear too many Tull similarities on this album. There is more guitar/dual leads here than there are flute solos and flute riffs, also marking a difference. The album is songs of two different types: there are half instrumentals with titles in German and half vocal tracks with titles in English. The voice is quiet, almost a whisper, dark sounding, and very Germanic. This album is full of olde German and olde English dark and mystical vibes juxtaposed with healthy doses of humour and energy. It is more psychedelic than progressive, with a rough edge and some phasing effects on the flute here and there. I like this much more than the Spanish group Pan And Regaliz who sing in very broken English and really are just a Tull cast off. Tull are so great that emulating them and their unique sound is potentially fatal. Rufus Zuphall may have been influenced by Tull, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Fairport Convention, and some other bands, but never do they copy or imitate. In fact, I would have to say this is one of the most original albums I've heard of late and that alone makes it refreshing. When I am bored and I put this on it elevates me and makes me feel better. Music is supposed to bring your spirits up, not make you miserable, right! It's hard to choose a favourite track here, I actually wouldn't be able to pick only one track. The record opens brilliantly with "Closing Time-" a fast paced jazzy rocker, and then it moves into two driving/atmospheric instrumentals before a very different slow vocal number "Waste Land." These guys are way, way better than Parzival, perhaps more Krautrock than folk and therefore more interesting. In 1971 a lot was happening, and this album is full of the excitement being generated then by bands who cared only about producing great music and not making a lot of money. Phallobst bombed, but since it is on the collectable Pilz label has been given a lot of praise along with their first album which I haven't heard. So, I say this is a masterpiece of progressive music? I am, but I am also stretching the term "progressive" to mean simply "innovative." The songs aren't long, there aren't a ton of time changes, not a lot of polish, but this is psych into progressive era circa Germany 1971 at its best, and a complete and total gem all the way through.
Report this review (#102082)
Posted Thursday, December 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was recorded in Dieter Dierks studio so it's much more polished than their debut which was recorded live in another studio. Unfortunately Dieter's studio was under construction so it made for a difficult week for the band. On top of that the label was trying to convince Krause the guitarist / vocalsit for the band to go solo, saying he could be the German version Neil Young. This was all done behind the band's back and Krause was very irritated about this. Another problem was the final track "I'm On My Way", the band had already rejected a version of it that the label wanted to release, but instead of honouring the band's wishes they released it anyway. The band didn't know about it until the final product was revealed.There were also other headaches for the band regarding the label that I won't get into. I should also mention a second lead guitarist was added for this release.

"Closing Time" features laid back vocals in this mid paced tune and when he stops singing before 1 1/2 minutes the tempo picks up and we get an all instrumental soundscape right to the end. "Wenn Schon, Denn Scon" is an instrumental. I like the intro especially the bass. It settles after a minute with dual acoustic guitars. Nice. It kicks back in before 3 minutes to the original melody. "Schupfner" kicks in before a minute with flute. It settles again with some intricate acoustic guitar. "Waste Land" features acoustic guitar and flute as reserved vocals arrive a minute in. Percussion follows in this melancholic track.

"Makrojel" is an impressive track and one of my favs. It's brighter and uptempo with flute. "Prickel Pit" has some good bottom end to it early. Guitar takes the lead after 1 1/2 minutes then flute joins in. Love the sound before 3 minutes. "Portland Town" opens with some mellotron and the song continues to drift along with mellow vocals. Cool song. "I'm On My Way" opens with acoustic guitar and vocals. I'm reminded of Jim Morrison as he sings on this track for some reason. Mellotron comes in later.

I do like the debut more, but this is worth the 4 stars.

Report this review (#216709)
Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | Review Permalink

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