Virus — Thoughts
(Garden of Delights CD 171, 1971/2014, CD)
Virus — Revelation
(Garden of Delights CD 169, 1971/2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-05-25
Virus began as one of the most powerful proponents of German psychedelic rock in the early 70s, formed after some changes in their previous band Man’s World (departure of their bassist and finding a suitable replacement) the band rechristened themselves Virus. The lineup for their debut single “Confusion” / “Facts of Death” (included on the Revelation CD) and their first album Revelation included bass guitarist Reinhold Spiegenfeld, drummer Wolfgang “Dicken” Rieke, Bernd “Molle” Hohmann on flute and vocals, organist Jörg-Dieter Krahe, and guitarist Werner “Schorty” Monka. Launching with the twelve-minute title track, which includes a solid instrumental interpretation of The Stones’ “Paint It Black,” their mostly instrumental sound was honed from hard rock influences of the times as well as the more explorative psychedelic sounds of the day (in fact the closing minutes of “Endless Game” are so close to the ending of Pink Floyd’s “Saucerful of Secrets,” the listener might be confused about the minor differences). After a full album side of instrumental cuts, the second side of the original LP starts with the bluesy, Hendrix-influenced “Burning Candle,” introducing Hohmann’s vocal power nicely, and a chaotic instrumental frenzy at the end. All of five of the excellent album cuts are group compositions, and show the tight and professional approach of a band with many more years of experience together than Virus had at the time. The ten-plus minute “Hungry Loser” begins with a more melancholic approach, again with vocals, though eventually building to a powerful instrumental climax in the last five minutes. The closer “Nur Noch Zwei Lichtjahre” take us back into extremely psychedelic paths, not unlike parts of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma, borne of improvisation with spoken German text.
Shortly after the release of Revelation, there was a rift within the band, allegedly over drug use among other things, which led to the departure of Monka, Spiegenfeld, and Hohmann – three fifths of the band leaving at once, going on to form the band Weed, which released one album with an unforgettable cover. Meanwhile Rieke and Krahe were left to form a new Virus, which was still under contract for a second album.
Four new members were brought in, which included Bernd Rösner on guitar, Alex Nieling on congas and drums, Werner Vogt and Jürgen Schäffer, both covering bass and vocals. As one migt expect, the virus of Thoughts is very different from the earlier version of the band, now more succinct and song oriented, and perhaps more progressive, with less of the explorational improvisation, but taken on its own merit it’s an excellent effort. Vogt entered the band with a small cache of compositions more or less ready to go, written with lyricist Gerd Rübenstrunk, which the band then arranged as a group, forming the ten tracks on the second album. First and foremost among those is the album opener “King Heroin,” also released as a single, with a great jam staring at about the two-minute mark and carrying through most of the song’s five-plus minutes. Rösner brings in a more flashy guitar style than his predecessor, but on the new material it’s a perfect fit. “Mankind, Where Did You Go To?” takes on a more progressive style, with vocal harmonies from both Schäffer and Vogt. These first two cuts are worth the price of admission alone, but the remainder of the album is equally solid, though one will not recognize the sound compared to their debut. Better or worse? You be the judge, but both albums are essential listening. Tacked onto the end are the two cuts from the ’71 Pilz label compilation Heavy Christmas: “Mary Meets Tarzan” and “X-Mas Submarine,” an album they share with Dies Irae, Ardo Bombec, Joy Unlimited, Flute and Voice, and others. Both of these releases share the same band name, both released in 1971, both very different, but equally essential.
Related artist(s): Virus
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
Heldon - Electronique Guerilla & It's Always Rock 'n' Roll – The reissue of Heldon's first album is one that this writer has surely been anticipating for quite some time. What's even better is that Heldon's very elusive double third album has been... (1993) » Read more