In the series of reissues that the Polish label GAD Records is releasing of the original records of the band Polish act SBB, we come up with three new releases. So after the reviews of Jerzyk (2020, see review), New Horyzont (see review) and Ze Słowem Biegnę Do Ciebie (2020, see review) we present you know: Pamięć, Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem and SBB (Aka: SBB1).
This is the bands third album, which became an important record due to the great steps the band members took in their development. The record contained only three pieces that were carefully constructed and testify to the great imagination and influence of bands such as Yes and ELP, who did not hesitate to reserve entire sides for one song and who by ignoring musical conventions, heard how much freedom can resonate in music.
GAD has done a good job in polishing this music, the album sounds very fresh without compromising the vintage sound made possible by instruments such as a Fender Rhodes, Hammond Organ and Minimoog. The album is indeed a wonderful record to listen to, playful, beautifully composed music that makes the listener nostalgic, but which also sounds mature, thoughtful and subtle 45 years later.
The CD is enhanced with three long pieces that the band recorded for Polskie Radio in 1975, including the playful FOS, which largely consists of a super old-fashioned drum solo. It shows how great the band must have sounded live. Other than that, this release is also impeccable, with some funny photos from the band's past, the lyrics and a story about the origin of the record.
It's all good, because what counts are those first three songs, which together form Pamięć a monumental record that helped the Polish progressive rock for decades and lifted SBB onto the European stage. It's great that such an important album still proves to be worth listening to.
Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem (1981)
This album was released after the excellent albums Follow My Dream (1978) and Welcome
(1979). Therefore it comes music wise close to those two masterpieces. This is partly due to the arrival of guitarist Piwowar, who joined the band in May of 1979. Just in time, because the original guitarist Antymos had reached the end of his tether after eternal touring and could use some help. Piwowar immediately made an important contribution to the compositions, but also adds an extra dimension with his excellent guitar playing, especially when he and Antymos play together. The band still plays a spicy blend of jazz and prog, most clearly in the short but powerful Strategia Pulsu. Important progress is also that keyboardist, bassist and singer Skrzek now has access to an enormous battery of keyboard instruments, including almost the entire range of Moog synthesizers.
The album contains four pieces, including the title piece that took up an entire side of the album. The special thing about this piece is that it is an adaptation of one of the very first pieces that Skrzek worked on in the predecessor of SBB, the Silesian Blues Band. The fact that this piece now includes the first period of the band is very special.
It is again striking that the pieces, with the exception of the heavier Strategia Pulsu and Moja Ziemio Wysniona, seem to consist of separate pieces of music, which have been pieced together. The beautiful Trójkat Radosci sounds great thanks to the great playing on the classical guitar. The title piece, an indictment against the war, is a wonderful patchwork of one symphonic passage after another.
GAD has again done a good job polishing this music, the record sounds very fresh without sacrificing the vintage sound.
The bonus tracks on this release are made up of three long pieces that the band recorded earlier; two live pieces from the German tour just before the band entered the studio for this album and the original demo of Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem from 1971. The extra tracks are nice, nothing more nothing less. What counts is the original album, excellent music played by excellent musicians. For SBB Mark I it was their swan song album. While recording the album, Antymos left because Skrzek had dropped that he thought Piwowar was a much better guitarist. Anyway, by the time the album was released, the band had already split up. After the departure of Antymos, and after the political revolution in Poland, the other band members also gave up in favour of solo work. The band would restart at least four more times later on.
SBB (Aka: SBB1) (1974)
This is the debut album by the band with the same album title. Also known as SBB1. Later on more albums released by the band strangely enough got the same title SBB. SBB is the record that the band introduced to the general Polish public in a way that was unusual and unusual for the time: with a live album. Because that is very clear “SBB”, an album that reveals its age without a doubt. There is no doubt that the three gentlemen had the guts to present themselves in this way. And how they did it shows that they were mainly a live band that could improvise all the way. Raw and alive. On this first album the band mainly plays a bluesy kind of jazz rock with progressive rock influences. SBB was known for playing loud live, but sound-wise these aren't the best recordings. Especially the bass guitar, which Skrzek plays almost exclusively as a solo instrument, sounds quite distorted. As is often the case with SBB, the compositions seem to consist of separate pieces of music that have been put together. This gives you the impression of listening to jams, especially live. Sometimes reminiscence how Deep Purple acted on a live stage.
In the meantime you can already hear in this rough, early debut that this is a promising band that would later release some amazing albums. During Wizje, Skrzek shows himself to be a sensitive singer, who also dares to sing softly at the piano amidst all that cacophony. That will not always have gone down well in the Polish rock halls and often part of the audience left the hall during the concert.
That the band had more to offer is clear from the bonus tracks, which come from a flexi-disc from 1974. It contains studio recordings in which both the progressive rock content of the music and the talent of the musicians come into its own. All in all this is certainly a fine release that lovers of SBB will love whole hearted.
Again GAD Records has surprised us with three excellent reissues which I loved all the way. What's next?
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
Where to buy?
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