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Kingston Wall - Kingston Wall I CD (album) cover

KINGSTON WALL I

Kingston Wall

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This debut album of legendary Kingston Wall brought attention for both progressive and psychedelic music in Finnish media, as the band was quite successful and popular here. Though the main drive is on quite basic vintage hard rock orientation, the referred more underground tones are also certainly present, thus giving a pleasant surprise for band of such characteristics gaining fame in a land dominated by playlists and pop. Gigs on big rock festivals are possibly one promoting factor, but the fine quality of songs like "With My Mind", "Used to Feel Before" and "Waste of Time" redeem the expectations even without promotions with psych oriented guitar solos and catchy verses. "Nepal" dives further to surreal spheres reaching over eight minutes duration, its main rock passage rising from an Indian-oriented walls of sound, and then diving to waves of laid back parts with Hawkind reminding tones coloring the background.

I'm bit troubled by the cover version of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire", I guess the original version from The Experience is bit too sacred for me. This version is still quite good, being very similar to the original song, except that there is a small reggae arrangement at the end of it, which works well. The band also played this on their gigs along with the other tunes of the innovating guitar master. The biggest entity on the disc is "Mushrooms", which is over 21 min long epic. This fungus composition is built up from separate tracks, so the listener could navigate the different parts easily. There are some tighter rockier parts with singing, and long psychedelic instrumental jams. The beginning is promising, but I got bit bored during the fourth and fifth parts.

The Zen Garden re-issue of this album has a small bonus CD on it, which has a live recording from their gig at Marathon, Helsinki 1991. The sound quality is decent, but the singing isn't very audible. I also fear there are some edits (in and out fades) in it; For example the shift from the ethnic sound wall of "Freak-Out Intro" and the following Hendrix cover "Purple Haze" sounds unnatural. Other covers here are J.J.Cale's "Call Me The Breeze", Lennon/McCartney composition "Rocky Raccoon" and "Western Plain. To be frank, I felt these sounded quite repulsive redneck songs, and the good players didn't save them. Possibly the experience of these performings might have felt different from the audience, these expressions limited now only to their documents heard from the home stereo. And it is of course interesting to hear this band's live performances, as in my opinion they did their stuff more successfully on stage than at the studio. But I wouldn't recommend hunting the re-issue CDs just because of these bonus tracks.

I think there is much potential on this album, and I do not object it's meaning as an historical record for Finnish music scene. But to be honest, this album never grew very important for myself, and I never got much inspiration for listening to it. Most of the fine songs on this album worked better on their triple live CD in my opinion.

Report this review (#33111)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a good debut and shows lots of Petri Walli's potential. There are interesting songs here, like Waste of Time and Nepal. But not all the songs are that great. Anyway this is an album worth buying. 3,5 stars.
Report this review (#66654)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kinston Wall's debut is one of the finest debuts I've heard. It contains wonderful material and a little weaker material.

With the best songs "With My Mind", "Waste Of Time", "Fire", "Nepal", and some parts of the epic "Mushrooms"; you can't go wrong. The rest of the songs are bit acquired taste. "Used To Feel Before is a nice rocker but nothing really ultraspecial.

This is still a must have If you have II or Tri-Logy, OR you can start with this one, since this contains fulltime KW sound with the best songs! An excellent addition to any prog collection!

Report this review (#90244)
Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now, Kingston wall deput. I must say that i really dig this stuff. It just Grooves so Well!! Well ok number 8. track Tanya is little bit slow and depressive. But that brings nicely some caracter. This album is kind of that I found myself listening to it very intensively at time to time. And then on the other hand it can be hidden underneeth dust for months and months, go figure. But as a hole there are so few things in this album wich I don't like.

So I recomend this to anybody who is interested at good psykedelic rock wich grooves!!

Report this review (#106523)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars KW's debut album is their most accessible one. It is very easy to get into and understand, not to take anything away from the music itself. Here the Led Zeppelin/Jimi Hendrix influences are most visible (especially since there is a cover of 'Fire' included) but the playing stays progressive throughout. The album opener "With My Mind" has become a personal favorite of mine, accompanied by such tracks as "Used To Feel Before" and the beautifully moody "Waste Of Time". The rest of the album is evenly good as well, capped off by the 20+ minute "Mushrooms" epic which is split into 8 parts. The whole album has a light 'feel good'-vibe from start to finish, occasionally dipping into the deep and spiritual side.

There is something very mystical about the whole being of Kingston Wall. I believe this can be life changing music, all you really have to do is pay attention. The lyrics seem to have something infinitely wise in them and the playing is top-notch or dare I say, awe- inspiring. All 3 of Kingston Wall's albums are essential but their sound and music would soar to even greater heights later on.

Report this review (#133631)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The adventure begins.

Sinkadotentree, one of my many prog gurus at this site, turned me on to KW's buzz a while back, wisely guiding me towards the excellent 2nd album first. Now I think I know why. The first KW album is an exercise in patience, often boring, long-winded, sometimes like nails-on-a-chalkboard frustration to this listener.

First up, the difference in the songwriting quality between KW1 and KW2 is striking. Whereas 2 had some elegant, haunting, perfectly crafted pieces of jamming bliss, KW1 lacks maturity and quite often any discernible focus. To make a comparison to Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band not so far from the KW universe: If KW2 is spiritually comparable to Blood Sugar Sex Magic, then KW1 would probably be The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. I'm not saying I mind craziness, youthful exuberance, or even all out musical debauchery.hell, I love it.if it works. On Kingston Wall-1 it doesn't work for the most part. There are flashes of the juicy steak that will follow on the next album but expect to have your endurance tested to find them. My favorite part of this album is listening to the gonzo-ass skins beating of Sami Kuoppamaki, one of thee finest jam-band drummers you will ever hear. But the songs aren't there and frankly it is Petri who has not caught up with Sami and Jukka at this point. "With My Mind" starts the album in hangover mode as the band sounds a bit lethargic and bleak. Even bassist Jukka complains about lame cover of Hendrix's Fire. Petri was sadly wasting no time dropping the lyrical hints this early of the state of his mind, which would eventually cost him his life. Here he sings "I've got this bad taste in my mouth and in my soul.some kind of tribulation strangles my mind.it makes me wonder do I have much more time." By the time we get to "Waste of Time" and "Nepal" the band has woken up and peaked. Expect some breathtaking fills from Sami and occasional flashes of soul from Petri, but if you compare the best moments here side by side with the next album I think you'll see my point. And that leads us to the 21 minute 8-part super epic "Mushrooms." Close to the Edge it is not. If you can make it through part 7 "More Mushrooms" and get to part 8 "The Answer" you will enjoy one of the album's finer moments, a heavy yet peaceful climax before the fade-out again hinting at better things to come.

I strongly, I repeat, strongly suggest you begin your Kingston Wall adventure with their 2nd album. Depending on the degree of your appreciation for that one, you will know if you need to backtrack to their garage days for KW1, proceed to the "Maharishi moment" of their final album, or stop altogether. Two stars isn't meant as disrespect for the late Mr. Walli, but as my sincere feeling that despite good moments this is not a good album and that it is mostly "for the fans." 2 1/2 stars.

Report this review (#165520)
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Back in the early 90's it was hard to keep track of all the bands that tried to find rock stardom by following in Jane's Addiction's footsteps. That band had paved the way towards a renewed interest in 70's heavy psych progressive jamming and they inspired many bands to rock out again and fire up the old psych vibe with flashy funky playing and heavy bouncing rock beats.

While pleasant, Kingston Wall's debut lacks the songwriting necessary to make things memorable. In fact, the adoration of Led Zeppelin is so high that they almost sound like a tribute band, not dissimilar from those German heavy rockers of Kingdome Come, be it with a more psychedelic edge.

And when that psychedelic elements take the fore, we're facing quite an enjoyable band that welcomes more influences then just Led Zeppelin. Standout tracks would be Waste of Time, Nepal and I Hear You Call, which was my introduction to the band back in 92. Also Tanya maintains the Eastern-tinged mood nicely, but then the overambitious Mushroom destroys the momentum of the album.

A worthy debut but with too few outstanding moments to keep my interest going. In fact, before SinkaMellotronDotenStormTree reminded me about this band's second album, I hadn't listened to this since 93.

Report this review (#298163)
Posted Thursday, September 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars As the cover art expresses the Eastern influence is very strong on this album (and other Kingston Wall albums as well). The music can be categorized as psychedelic progressive rock and has influences from Zeppelin, Hawkwind, Hendrix, and some Pink Floyd can be heard as well. Still I think the overall sound and atmosphere is very unique, created mostly by shamanic and intense guitarwork of Petri Walli and decorative, improvisational drumming of Sami Kuoppamäki. The actual songs are not as interesting, they're more like frames for the exceptional playing and psychedelia. Which doesn't mean that the album would be only to show off their skills - it is a very good psychedelic rock album to dive into.

The best songs of the album are "With My Mind", Hendrix-cover "Fire", "Waste of Time" and "Nepal". Also the trippy and a bit silly Mushrooms-suite is worth mentioning, though it's not very strong as a whole. It seems that Kingston Wall is at their best in long, epic songs with much room to improvise. The vocal melodies are not particularly good, maybe due to Petri Walli's limited singing skills. Still they work well enough at least in the aforementioned four songs.

A very promising debut album and is not much weaker than their best work, (the next album: "II").

Report this review (#651500)
Posted Friday, March 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This band cannot be ignored when dealing with the history of Finnish prog, as they were very popular and also some kind of pioneers in the early nineties, after the entire extremely anti- prog decade (if you thought prog was a rude word in Britain in the 80's, you should have seen what was it like in Finland!). After releasing a trilogy of albums the band came to a tragic end as their leader Petri Walli committed suicide by jumping down from a church tower (BTW, his biography was released this spring, only in Finnish, of course).

Anyway, this debut is quite single-mindedly considered as their least important album by prog listeners. There's an unquestionable psychedelic vibe especially in the 8-part suite 'Mushrooms', but this music is primarily HARD rock with a breathtaking drive and virtuotic intensity. KW were a power trio of guitarist-vocalist Walli, bassist Jukka Jylli and drummer Sami Kuoppamäki. The guitar style is fierce, descending from Jimi Hendrix and heavy rock legends and soaked in trippy psychedelia, and the rhythm section is equally sharp and powerful.

The world of hard rock - especially the Finnish one - has never been close to me. So it's no surprise that I am left mostly untouched by this album. But I really can't deny the extreme power in it. Approximately after the four earliest tracks, which are fast and rather similar to each other ('Fire' being a Hendrix cover), the psychedelic flavour starts to affect the listener. Nearly 9- minute 'Nepal' is effective, clearly one of the highlights. 'And I Hear You Call' has some Oriental (Turkish/Arabian) kind of melodies at first, like occasionally throughout the album, but hardly as much as the cover art would suggest.

It's the 21-minute 'Mushrooms' suite that crowns this hour-long album. What is perhaps lost in the adrenalin power, is gained in the depth of a proggier, epic-like songwriting. But don't expect too much of it, in fact here and there it feels a bit lost and pointlessly stretched. Speaking of the whole album, if this site was about hard rock instead of prog rock, I might give one star more.

Report this review (#1180755)
Posted Friday, May 30, 2014 | Review Permalink
Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars

KINGSTON WALL's debut album shows a band in search of its identity. On the basis of 70's hard rock, like LED ZEPPELIN, the music incorporates middle-eastern and psychedelic / space rock touches. This first opus is the least progressive of the finnishs. It already contains some original elements, but they still need to be matured.

The seventies' hard rock "With My Mind" is an efficient opener. It has a cool psychedelic guitar solo but you can also hear grunge touches in it, proving that the finnishs brought something new to scene. "Used to Feel Before" is a direct poppy rocky song, while "I'm Not the One" is rather average and loud. The cover of JIMI HENDRIX's "Fire" is not bad but does not bring much novelty. It just makes you want to listen to the original version. The proggy "Waste of Time" is a varied but unequal song, with a chaotic psychedelic guitar solo.

The middle-eastern-ish melodies are more present on the second half of the disc. God examples are the nice and energic "And I Hear You Call" and "Nepal", they sometimes remind late 70's HAWKWIND, whereas the instrumental "Tanya" is slower. The 21 minutes "Mushrooms" is the most progressive passage of the record. Not very structured, this composition is rather a collage of various songs with different ambiances: mysterious, grunge, psychedelic rock in the style of GONG or freak 'n'roll jam. Lacking consistency, this suite is a bit odd and too long.

The middle-eastern theme suggested by the cover art is only half-respected (or maybe it's fully respected after all, because it pictures musicians just arriving to an unknown land on a magic carpet). However, despite a musical identity not enough matured, this first effort is refreshing and very promising. Needless to say that, during the early 90's and the explosion of grunge, rap and techno, it was not an easy task for a young band playing this type of music to emerge. That's a pity, because KINGSTON WALL is an underrated and lesser-known formation.

This album is definitely not the one to start with, but is nonetheless recommended to space and 70's hard rock fans.

Report this review (#1550410)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars I personally rate Kingston Wall I as a momentous debut album, with its simplicity, raw energy, and naivety.

It has all the right ingredients, from a wonderful opening track, 'With My Mind', to a wild and groovy 2nd track 'Used to Feel Before'.

The 3rd track 'I'm Not the One' is a classic rock riff which leads in to a great cover of Hendrix's 'Fire'.

The 5th track takes us up an emotional notch and we begin to see the inner workings of KW and Petri Walli, again, loud, and epic. A lot more to this song than meets the ear, as most of the songs on this album.

The 6th track Nepal leads us through a bazarre and into something special and deep and flowing and almost heart breaking.

The 7th track 'And I Hear You Call' remains on the same eastern theme with a complex turn-around and intricate drumming sequences.

The 8th track 'Tanya' explores the mind and soul and a small reprieve until we get to the 9th track "Prelude' which moves into one of the best songs on the album, 'On My Own'.

'On My Own' is the last regular track on the album, as if saying well ok you got the point now we're gonna do what we want for the remainder of the album.

The 11th track 'The Weep' is the end of the prelude portion and into the most psycadelic portions of the album followed by the aptly names "Mushrooms'.

The 13th track 'Circumstances' is fun track and has a nice grove going.

The 14th track "Captain Relief' continues the whacked out and the crazy, with superb use of the Wah and control of the flow and movement of the feel of the song.

Track 15 'More Mushrooms' is a a a flashback to the 12th track "Mushrooms.

The last track 'The Answer' sums up what is an exciting journey of an album and a wild experience.

What is so good about this album is that it gets better the more you listen to it. If you get a chance to drive for an hour on a long journey, turn up the volume, give up your preconceptions and enjoy the ride.

I highly recommend this album and for being a first album is extremely accomplished and well produced.

Report this review (#1813646)
Posted Monday, October 16, 2017 | Review Permalink

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