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Thread: FEATURED ALBUM: Grobschnitt - Ballermann

  1. #1
    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    FEATURED ALBUM: Grobschnitt - Ballermann

    Today's feature is Ballermann from the German band Grobschnitt. Given what the group ultimately accomplished from the 70s and beyond, where does Ballermann fit today within the group's discography as well as the German scene in general?




    Review from Progarchives
    COME ENJOY THE GROBSCHNITT WORLD.

    After their excellent debut, GROBSCHNITT came back with a double LP album named BALLERMAN. 5 songs comprise the first LP as the second LP offers us the first version of their trademark masterpiece, a studio rendition of the fantastic SOLAR MUSIC which would become very popular 5 years later with the definitive SOLAR MUSIC-LIVE album.

    A few changes of personel have occured since their first album as EROC is the only one drummer now and VOLKER KAHRS nicknamed ''MIST'' has taken over the keyboards. Like the first album, BALLERMAN is a mix of diverse styles of music blended together for a new great unique GROBSCHNITT experience going from drunks in a beer fest athmosphere to the most delicate symphonique sounds not forgetting weird spacey psychedelic jams.

    The sound is more subdued than on their furious debut as the ''Santana'' groovy rythms and loose guitar sounds have disappeared for a more polished, more progressive approach. However the typical GROBSCHNITT sense of humor is well present with the opener,the hilarious SAHARA. Not that this song will win any prog awards, but at least it's funny with EROC narrating like a drunk with a VERY strong German accent. Who said Germans are no fun? at least the members of GROBSCHNITT are. But that's not this beer fest song that will give 4 stars to this album, even reducing the chances of doing better.

    NICKEL-ODEON brings us back to old Grobschnitt with a good strong guitar helped by lush organ tapestry then a very, very powerful vocal performance from WIDSCHWEIN follows helped again by tasteful guitar playing. WILDSCHWEIN sings his heart out, cries his heart out i should say in a very moving way. He sounds like he is ready to commit suicide or that he has lost everything that was dear to him. Not a song to cheer you up for sure! but a beautiful one showing us that GROBSCHNITT can also deliver emotions and sound serious. The keyboardist is great and helped the music sounding richer than before, but once again LUPO the guitarist is the hero going from frenetic hard rock to melancholic introspection.

    DRUMMER'S DREAM sounds more like future GROBSCHNITT -Rockpommel period- a mid-tempo ballad with symphonic arrangements overcoating an average melody.LUPO and MIST again do a good job with their respective instruments. As long as you can go along with the voice of the singer ''WILDSCHWEIN''.

    MORNING SONG follows the same pattern than DRUMMERS DREAM, a psychedelic ballad very bucolic with acoustic guitar, clavinet and sweet vocals.The 13 mns long MAGIC TRAIN opens with a beautiful classical piano solo from Mist, a divine pleasure cut by the apperance of Wildshwein vocals and guitar breaks from LUPO and a long athmospherique journey not bad but not that great either. This is a good song but could have used a little more creativity and spontaneity imlo. Some reviewers mentioned GENESIS regarding this song, but as i have never been a great GENESIS fan anyway, i can't say much.

    The highlight of the album is of course this studio version of SOLAR MUSIC which lasts 33 mns....still far away from the 80mns from the live album.Sure all the main themes of this fantastic piece of music are present here but it is in no way the definitive version as the live one is something out of this world blending power, creativity, weirdness, successful experimentation, ultimate musicianship: the most trippy album of all time.

    Nonetheless, this is a good way to start with SOLAR MUSIC if you haven't heard of it yet! This is a spacial journey with all the elements i mentioned that make prog music great.This is beautiful themes after other beautiful themes, all played with passion,enthousiasm living a lot of room for -wellthought and calculated- improvisations. When listening to this suite, i think of the title of thsi movie: SPACE ODDYSSEY. That's exactly what it is, but not in the cosmic way of TANGERINE DREAM and other KLAUS SCHULZE. There is beautiful guitar to be heard here, great drums works and of course very spacey keyboards and a very few weird vocals as SOLAR FIRE is mostly an instrumental prog festive mayhem. There is sheer power in SOLAR MUSIC.

    I will stop here celebrating this monument as i still have to review the live album, their definitive album, the GROBSCHNITT masterpiece. I would give 3 stars to the first LP and 5 of course for SOLAR MUSIC, so BALLERMAN will get.....

    4 STARS. - febus




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  2. #2
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Definitely prefer the live version, but this is their second best (IMHO) after their debut.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  3. #3
    Member TheH's Avatar
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    Very good album with lots of humour. Solar Music Live is still another dimension though.

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  5. #5
    “Magic Train” is my favorite from this. The cheeky reference to “Yours Is No Disgrace” on “Nickel-Odeon” is amusing. The rendition of “Solar Music” is fine, but it can’t hold a candle to the later live version.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  6. #6
    Wow... the only Grobschnitt I have is Rockpommel and Jumbo, so maybe I should give this one (and Solar Music Live a listen too and get a better idea of what these guys were all about.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Wow... the only Grobschnitt I have is Rockpommel and Jumbo, so maybe I should give this one (and Solar Music Live a listen too and get a better idea of what these guys were all about.
    Solar Music Live is essential listening for Grobschnitt fans
    If you're actually reading this then chances are you already have my last album but if NOT and you're curious:
    https://battema.bandcamp.com/

    Also, Ephemeral Sun: it's a thing and we like making things that might be your thing: https://ephemeralsun.bandcamp.com

  8. #8
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    Solar Music Live is essential listening for Grobschnitt fans
    Wot he said.

  9. #9
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Wow... the only Grobschnitt I have is Rockpommel and Jumbo, so maybe I should give this one (and Solar Music Live a listen too and get a better idea of what these guys were all about.
    TBH & IMHO, Jumbo and Rockpommel are very derivative of Yes & Genesis...
    They're not representative of what Grobschnitt could do when being Grobschnitt.

    Go directly to Solar Music Live, though however stunning that album is, they've released even better versions in those posthumous releases (like History of G)
    my fave version (though the secons disc is weaker): http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=12198
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  10. #10
    Fantastic album. Although Iím not a fan of the first nine minutes of the record. But the rest is magical.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    Solar Music Live is essential listening for Grobschnitt fans
    Or indeed for fans of forcefully fierce space-rock cascades in general, as it offers some of the very best examples of how this can be both extremely energetic and dilligently calculated at the same time, with some mesmerizing gonzo-dynamics and drives.

    This being said, I'm more of a Jumbo gumbo myself - favouring the German vox version. Rockpommel got a bit dry for all its suspicious attempts at transition, though. IMHO.

    Ballermann is ok, but as with Hoelderlin or Novalis (or indeed the Grob debut) I hardly keep coming back to it today. I play Jumbo and the Solar Music Live and almost always skip along to the title track of S.F.F.'s Pictures, which builds along some of the same lines of idea and principle albeit from a different angle.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Or indeed for fans of forcefully fierce space-rock cascades in general, as it offers some of the very best examples of how this can be both extremely energetic and dilligently calculated at the same time, with some mesmerizing gonzo-dynamics and drives.
    I got Solar Music in the mid 90's when I first was discovering prog beyond the "big ones." Can't recall the exact wording but in the Laser's Edge catalog Ken Golden described the album as the "greatest live progressive rock album, period" or something like that. Can't NOT give that a shot! And no regrets, it remains a big favorite of mine decades later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Or indeed for fans of forcefully fierce space-rock cascades in general, as it offers some of the very best examples of how this can be both extremely energetic and dilligently calculated at the same time, with some mesmerizing gonzo-dynamics and drives.

    This being said, I'm more of a Jumbo gumbo myself - favouring the German vox version. Rockpommel got a bit dry for all its suspicious attempts at transition, though. IMHO.

    Ballermann is ok, but as with Hoelderlin or Novalis (or indeed the Grob debut) I hardly keep coming back to it today. I play Jumbo and the Solar Music Live and almost always skip along to the title track of S.F.F.'s Pictures, which builds along some of the same lines of idea and principle albeit from a different angle.
    I'm definitely in the Solar Music / Jumbo orbit as well, and infrequently revisit Rockpommel's Land or Ballerman. I also have a soft spot for Illegal, it's very straightforward but there's a charm to it that always hits me the right way.
    If you're actually reading this then chances are you already have my last album but if NOT and you're curious:
    https://battema.bandcamp.com/

    Also, Ephemeral Sun: it's a thing and we like making things that might be your thing: https://ephemeralsun.bandcamp.com

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    I got Solar Music in the mid 90's when I first was discovering prog beyond the "big ones." Can't recall the exact wording but in the Laser's Edge catalog Ken Golden described the album as the "greatest live progressive rock album, period" or something like that. Can't NOT give that a shot! And no regrets, it remains a big favorite of mine decades later.



    I'm definitely in the Solar Music / Jumbo orbit as well, and infrequently revisit Rockpommel's Land or Ballerman. I also have a soft spot for Illegal, it's very straightforward but there's a charm to it that always hits me the right way.
    I play them all. Have to say, I prefer Razzia over Illegal.

  14. #14
    I think that everything up to and including Illegal still has something to recommend it, and I would heartily agree that all of the above are “prog” albums. Razzia received lots of bashing over the years, particularly in the early prog revival years of the 90s, but I maintain that’s just because the listeners in question had not heard Kinder + Narren or Fantasten (both of which lack both Eroc and Mist). K+N is particularly heinous.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  15. #15
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    I picked up the boxed set when it came out (what 3 or 4 years ago now?), just to get the albums I didn't have (mainly the post-Rockpommels Land albums). Ballermann is good, but Solar Music Live is amazing. I also absolutely love the German version of Jumbo. I am glad I bought the boxed set, as I do like Merry-Go-Round, Illegal and Razzia quite a bit (the last 2 not so much).

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Skeptrick View Post
    I picked up the boxed set when it came out (what 3 or 4 years ago now?), just to get the albums I didn't have (mainly the post-Rockpommels Land albums). Ballermann is good, but Solar Music Live is amazing. I also absolutely love the German version of Jumbo. I am glad I bought the boxed set, as I do like Merry-Go-Round, Illegal and Razzia quite a bit (the last 2 not so much).
    I have the box-set as well and bought it May 2015. I love Merry-Go-Round a lot and also Razzia is good, even when it misses Mist. Both albums I also have on vinyl.

    The Ballerman version of the box-set has a seperate intro-track which is a bit longer than the spoken part at the beginning of the original album.

    Listening to it right now. The piano-opening of Magic train is fantastic.
    Last edited by Rarebird; 10 Hours Ago at 06:01 AM.

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