Kraan — Flyday
(Revisited Records REV 028, 1978/2005, CD)
Kraan — Live 2001
(Bassball 20013 BAS, 2001, CD)
Kraan — Nachtfahrt
(Revisited Records REV 013, 1982/2005, CD)
Kraan — Wiederhören
(Revisited Records REV 012, 1977/2005, CD)
Kraan — Live 88
(Revisited Records REV 014, 1988/2005, CD)
Kraan — Dancing in the Shade
(Revisited Records REV 029, 1989/2005, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2006-05-01
Recently Revisited Records, a division of InsideOut Music, has been reissuing a number of German bands from the past: Klaus Schulze, Amon Düül II, and Kraan. To date, they have released these six albums from the Kraan catalog. If you believe the hype and liner notes, Kraan was one of the most innovative German bands from the last century. I don’t get it. There is no doubt that Helmut Hattler is an extraordinary bassist. His playing shines through on nearly every song on these six CDs. However, his skills as a bassist aren’t sufficient to carry the music. I think that Kraan tried to be too much of a chameleon and blend into the styles and trends of each decade. They just didn’t have the look or the licks. From their live recordings in this batch, that is where they excelled as a band. It is a shame that they just could not capture the excitement and spontaneity of a concert in the studio. The studio recordings, by and large, are sterile. Plus the vocals are their weakest link, preventing Kraan from exploring some interesting musical ideas only hinted at in the instrumental breaks.
What is really interesting is that on Wiederhören Conny Plank engineered half of the studio songs and only these tracks have any merit. Plus they happen to be some of the strongest material the band ever recorded. Fortunately, the songs with vocals recorded by Conny actually are listenable. There are only two worthwhile songs on Wiederhören, “Vollgas Ahoi” and the title track. As with other Revisited Records reissues, there is bonus material. For Wiederhören, they included a live version of the title track that runs about 19 minutes.
Flyday was recorded one year later in 1978. This release was supposed to mark a new beginning for the band. The problem on this release was the overuse of the factory presets on their new digital keyboards. The result being that there is not a lot of difference in sound from song to song. The only saving grace to Flyday is the live bonus track, “Gayu Gaya.” This recording is a huge improvement over the studio version on the album, but not enough to justify purchasing Flyday.
Nachfahrt is from 1982 and there is only one song of note on this release — but it is a monster! “Wintruper Echo” could be the best song Kraan ever recorded. It has a fantastic Helmut bass solo opening the song followed by doubled guitars and drums to produce a Krautrock masterpiece reminiscent of Neu!. The remainder of Nachfahrt is mediocre at best and the inclusion of the bonus track “The Daily Blues,” written and featuring vocals by their drummer Gerry Brown, does nothing to enhance the reissue.
Then after a four-year hiatus, Kraan got together and recorded Live ’88. At this point in their career, they were no longer with a label and had added Joo Kraus on trumpet, keyboards, and percussion to their lineup. The addition of brass to the band greatly enhanced their jazz-rock fusion. This is an excellent album. Kraan breathes new life into “Vollgas Ahoi,” “You’re Right,” “Wintruper Echo,” and “Nachfahrt.” Helmut is at his energetic best on bass. Live ’88 has lots of cool jazz-rock jams and improvs. There is only one problem and it is again the overuse of the factory presets on the keyboards. The sameness of the sounds causes the songs to blur into one another.
Two years later Kraan released Dancing in the Shade. Once again theytried to morph and adapt to current musical trends. This is a very uneven release consisting of awful pop songs, mediocre jazz-rock, and ethnic world music. At this point in their career, Kraan was more a collection of individuals pursuing their own interests rather than a cohesive band. The music is still well executed, but overall kind of boring. There is only one song, “One Day,” which has any promise at all of interesting an Exposé reader. “One Day” is different from the rest of the disc with its chanting and dark edgy music. The bonus tracks are three demo versions of songs on the studio album: “Dancing in the Shade,” “Good Enough,” and “Polarity,” which would have been better left off.
Lastly, there is another live album, Live 2001. The first six songs are from the Herzburg Festival and the other five are from the International Donau Festival, both recorded in June 2000. The band line up here is the same as the original from the late seventies and early eighties: Peter Wolbrandt, Jan Fride, Ingo Bischof, and Helmut Hattler. These two concerts feature a “Best of Kraan” set list with songs spanning their 30-year history. Though not quite as energetic as Live ’88, Live 2001 still provides some exciting moments of jazz-rock fusion and Hattler’s bass solos. To summarize then, the best CDs of this batch, and the only ones worth purchasing, are the two live recordings and possibly Wiederhören. Steer clear of the others.
Related artist(s): Kraan
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more