German trio SFF, short for Schicke, Führs & Fröhling, released two albums in the seventies that I still regard as masterpieces: Symphonic Pictures (1976) and Sunburst (1977). After these two excellent albums they released Ticket To Everywhere (1978), which I thought to be very disappointing at the time. Their first two albums featured musical styles that might be compared to the music of Camel and King Crimson during the early seventies. The first track on Ticket To Everywhere still contained all the elements that made the first two albums so strong. Open Doors still featured those great Mellotron and MiniMoog-parts, technical rhythms and strong electric guitar sounds. Until now, this song still reminds me of The Doors-hit Riders On The Storm, but as soon as the second track Song From India came out of my speakers, I simply couldn’t believe that this was an SFF-composition…
Now, Esoteric Recordings have re-released Ticket To Everywhere and I still get the same feeling while listening to it. In those days, disco beats came into fashion and apparently SFF was infected by this musical virus. The title track has also been infected by the same kind of modern musical elements. For people like me, who had been listening to bands as Genesis, Yes, Camel and Greenslade, it is rather difficult to swallow. Thank goodness, Spain Span Spanish doesn’t contain these modern beats, so I can enjoy the strong instrumental music I’m familiar with since I discovered SFF. The nice Moog-sounds provided by Gerd Führs and the electric guitar melodies played by Heinz Fröhling sound very relaxed from the first until the last dying notes. Also the next piece Here And Now is performed in the old style and has – for the first time on an SFF-album – some fine vocals on board sung by Klaus Meine from The Scorpions. Back then, both bands had Dieter Dierks as their producer. The MiniMoogs have a leading role on this track and the sound produced on the Rickenbacker-bass played by Gert Fröling makes this piece very enjoyable. Fortunately, the horrible disco sounds from the second and third track are gone. In the next song a real clavinet appears and a string ensemble gives this piece a sort of spacey feel. Eduard Schicke (drums) and Heinz Fröhling (bass) are in control of the mellow rhythms, maybe the reason why they called this track Slow Motion. The final song on the originally released album has the strange title Folk ‘N Roll suggesting a musical blend of rock-and-roll and folk music. Indeed, it’s a happy tune with an up-tempo beat dominated by several MiniMoogs.
What remains on this album are three live bonus tracks of which two of them, both recorded in 1978, also appeared on the first reissue of this album by The Laser’s Edge some years ago. First track is the unknown mellow piece Every Land Tells A Story followed by a great rendition of Explorer/Wizzard taken from Sunburst. This great up-tempo tune contains a drum solo by Schicke in the middle-section. The last bonus track is the title track of this release and fortunately has less disco influences than the studio version. The additional live recordings sound pretty good thanks to the 24-bit digital remastering done in London. They also made it possible that the original album sounds perfect according to the standards we use today.
Looking back at Ticket To Everywhere 32 years later, I must admit: this album wasn’t as bad as I had in mind all the time. Actually two tracks are lesser than the rest of the material. The additional tracks lifted my judgment to an even higher score. Unfortunately, keyboard player Gerd Führs passed away in 1992 in a tragical road accident. Regrettably, he could never enjoy the perfect new releases of the recordings he made together with his musical friends Heinz Fröhling and Eduard Schicke. It’s a pity that I can’t give you my opinion about the new releases of the two previous albums SFF recorded before Ticket To Everywhere. That’s also the case for the new released version of Ammerland, an album originally recorded in 1978 by Führs and Fröhling without Schicke. Unfortunately, they didn’t send these albums to our office for a review.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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