In the Unsung feature of the Danskrocksampler that Julian Cope curated for his Head Heritage website in July 2004, he describes the history about the freedom that the post-war had effected in Denmark. “Post-war Danes were in no mood for further invasions even if it was to have been only of the cultural variety. Their post-war governments built up the most successful welfare in Europe and Danes prided themselves on their open-mindedness and egalitarian altitudes.”
But then rock n roll started to be embraced; “Like jazz before it, the coming of rock ‘n’ roll culture was embraced not only for its sounds, but because it emanated from Afro-American culture and symbolised both freedom and newly found freedom.” The bands that were coming out of that scene during the late ‘60s and into the early-mid ‘70s were ready to take a chance to push the envelope as far as they can go.
This 3-CD set from Esoteric is a trip down the underground scene of bands who were sinking into the worlds of both British and American music between the psychedelic, blues, classical, folk, and jazz world with Living on the Hill from 1967 to 1974. And as William H. Macy’s introduction narration of the incredible 2003 documentary on how the sex, drugs, and rock & roll revolution saved the Hollywood system in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls; “This is the story of the young artists who stormed the gates and briefly took control of the studios.”
You have these incredible beats from The Savage Rose, who would be championed by the infamous critic Lester Bangs and Rolling Stone writer David Fricke as they bring up the Sunday morning services to a volcanic eruption with pounding piano work and the sun-rising classical orientation between drums and keyboards on ‘Long Before I Was Born’ and ‘Tapiola’. Then it goes into a swirling garage rock attitude of guitars and organ with the ‘Night Flight’ from the Blues based Beefeaters.
And the sounds of one of the most unsung heroes known as Ache brings the ballet to unbelievable structures from the 19-minute epic ‘De Homine Urbano’, the reflection of a dooming past for the ‘Shadow of a Gypsy’, and the meditating vibes of ‘Equatorial Rain’ with ominous guitars and heavy organ-driven arrangements that would make you trade in your ELP records for those first two albums.
Then it’s into a proto-punk vibes of some Hendrix-like vibes from the Young Flowers with a 12-bar attitude on ‘Ouverture / Take Warning’ and the out-of-this- world 10-minute jam channeling both Traffic and the early Mothers of Invention routine for the ‘Kragerne Vender’ while Burnin Red Ivanhoe’s ‘Avez Vous Kaskelainen?’ dives into the Terry Riley and pre-krautrock vibes of CAN before running up the stairs with melodic guitars, ‘60s Joe Meek-like production levels, and pumping fists of music coming around in the 10-minute routine, ‘Ksilioy’.
But if you love Ache’s music, you might want to prepare yourself for Alrune Rod’s ‘Natskyggevej’ as they transform into a tidal waving effect of both Julian Treatment’s A Time Before This and The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other-era from Van der Graaf Generator, serving tea to a young Ozzy Osbourne in an English cottage in the middle of a heavy snow storm from the Paranoid years as they create something terrifying and something that’ll leave kids scared shitless, for the rest of eternity.
Next up, we head into the west coast sounds of Culpeper’s Orchard, channeling the vocal styles of Spirit’s Randy California with heavier and melodic guitar textures, followed by the Fairyport-era of Wigwam meets Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album on the first part of ‘Mountain Music.’ When you hear a blistering track like that, you may think of the two labels; Polydor and the swirling Vertigo releases.
And finally, we enter the Jazz worlds from the upbeat drum exercises on Thor Hammer’s ‘Mexico’, and the wah-wah atmospheres of Secret Oyster’s ‘Fire and Water’ and the mournful organ and crying out to the god guitars with different time changes for the ‘Mind Movie’ to begin with nods to the climatic sequence of Paul McCartney & Wings’ ‘Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five’ from Band on the Run. There are so many I wish I could go over, but it would be like a nerdy-geeky review.
This set is quite a trip down memory lane for fans who want to sink more into the worlds beyond Yes, Genesis, and ELP. They weren’t pretentious, nor writing Lord of the Rings material, but writing inside their heart and taking the progressive and psychedelic genre to a standstill. And this here, you need to prepare to take the journey of a life time to be a part of the Danish underground scene.