Review: What you get is a terrific collection of swingin' bachelor pad music, complete with a view of the Reeperbahn; most of the tracks suggest someone like Si Zentner trying to play something like rock & roll, with an added level of cultural disconnect added as the performers struggle to play American-style pop, often while attempting to sing in English (frequently in a manner that suggests they learned the lyrics phonetically). If this sounds like a pan so far, though, it isn't -- The In-Kraut is actually lots of fun, with most of the tunes boasting tight arrangements, great studio bands, and punchy, enthusiastic performances, even if the results often have little to do with rock & roll. (It's significant that, according to the liner notes, the upbeat "Marihuana Manta" was recorded by a musician who never smoked dope in his life, while "Molotov Cocktail Party" sounds less like a call to revolution than a tribute to the pleasures of blowing up stuff.) For the most part, The In-Kraut finds studio-centric big bands attempting to tackle rock & roll, and while they don't quite make it on face value, they come up with something that's exciting, compelling, and lots of fun -- proof that sometimes squares can be a lot cooler than you'd expect.
Review: The upbeat "Swinging London" by the Hazy Osterwald Jet Set is a standout. The band shouting out London landmarks and addresses of "The Swingin' City" over a KPM styled groove. Mary Roos offers a take of the Jorge Ben penned Sergio Mendes hit "Mas Que Nada" - here in German as "Blauer Montag" (Blue Monday). The legendary James Last provides a number titled "Soul March". It's uptempo, full and well produced with a nice touch of flanging to give it that "sky-ing" effect. Trippy! My fave of the disc is by an attractive gal named Hildegard Knef. In her slightly accented English she talks deadpan over a light jazzy groove on "Holiday Time". It's way out - try to imagine Nico pretending to be a dominatrix reading news headlines and you've got the drift. Dieter Reith's brilliant funky Hammond n horns "No No No" reminds me of Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames take on Earl Van Dyke's "Soul Stomp". No wonder it's culled from an album entitled "Hammond Explosion". The organ and sitar groove of Carlos Fendeira on "Gimmi Moro" is a wild mix that really works and sounds like a deleted cut from the Vampyros Lesbos film soundtrack! "Moon Mission" by Kai Rautenberg & Orchester Juergen Ehlers is a fuzz guitar vs. organ duel that is definitely my favorite instro excursion on the disc. If horns and Hammonds are your thing you need The In-Kraut Vol. 2 for your next soirre, gig, love-in et al.
Review: Described in the liner notes as the final volume in this series focusing on late-'60s and early-'70s psych and soul obscurities from West Germany, The In-Kraut, Vol. 3 is, like its predecessors, a perfect mix of the knowing wink and the honestly amazing. Whether it was a question of the technical expectations of a German listening audience, or simply good playing all around, nearly every song on here sounds incredible on a level of tactile impact: horns stab out of speakers, vocals are crisp and clear, and some of the feedback levels sound monstrous even after decades of heavy metal. That said, the flip side lies in the enjoyably workmanlike quality of so many of the contributions: these are adaptations and reworkings of so many American sources of inspiration in particular (or at a slight remove), thus the jaw-dropping version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" by bandleader Dieter Zimmermann, who replaces the vocal line with a horn section that sounds like a way ahead of its time college marching band, and the mid-song freak-out with lush strings set against a brooding bass swell that it's almost easier to simply marvel at how well they transmute the original material for the kind of starchy swing that seems to be the best way to dance to them. Perhaps inevitably, Peter Thomas steals the show on the whole thing with "The World Is Gone," a bizarre news bulletin-turned-street corner giggle/rant backed by his usual brass-led groovers. Whether it's South African expatriate Gene Williams' rather forced vamps on "My Soul Is Black," or the ridiculous singing on Georgees' "Butterflies Never Cry" -- it makes Blood, Sweat & Tears seem like Low -- this is definitely something that once heard is never forgotten. Whether that's positive or negative may depend on how you feel on the day.