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11 Aug 2016

Wigwam “Tombstone Valentine” 1970 Finland Prog Rock





Wigwam “Tombstone Valentine” 1970 Finland Prog Rock second album

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Released in 1970, WIGWAM's second album "Tombstone Valentine" uniquely stands on its own as not only a precursor to what was still to come but also a wonderful album bubbling over with soul searching folk/psych/prog leanings. The first few WIGWAM albums are truly wonderful and generally cover a wide range of musical ground. This album is a collection is 11 tracks with a heavy focus on folk-blues-rock songs giving at times allusion to the symphonic prog the later albums would explore. Hard to exactly peg down this album but definitely hear some PROCOL HARUM and a piece of maybe folk-era HOELDERLIN. "Tombstone Valentine" introduced us to new WIGWAM members Jukka Tolonen (guitarist) and bassist/composer Pekka Pohjola. WIGWAM were lead by both Jukka Gustavson (organ, piano) and vocalist England's Jim Pembroke'. Overall this is an excellent album that showed WIGWAM in early form performing unconventional and original selection of folk/prog and clearly shows a young band searching for a chemistry that began to gel on this album. ......

Released in 1970, WIGWAM's second album "Tombstone Valentine" uniquely stands on its own as not only a precursor to what was still to come but also a wonderful album bubbling over with soul searching folk/psych/prog leanings. The first few WIGWAM albums are truly wonderful and generally cover a wide range of musical ground. This album is a collection is 11 tracks with a heavy focus on folk-blues-rock songs giving at times allusion to the symphonic prog the later albums would explore. Hard to exactly peg down this album but definitely hear some PROCOL HARUM and a piece of maybe folk-era HOELDERLIN. "Tombstone Valentine" introduced us to new WIGWAM members Jukka Tolonen (guitarist) and bassist/composer Pekka Pohjola. WIGWAM were lead by both Jukka Gustavson (organ, piano) and vocalist England's Jim Pembroke'. Overall this is an excellent album that showed WIGWAM in early form performing unconventional and original selection of folk/prog and clearly shows a young band searching for a chemistry that began to gel on this album. .....

WIGWAM are considered as the most significant band of the Finnish prog scene of the 70's.Having their roots in the jazz rock act ''Blues Section'',they were formed in 1968 and released ''Hard'n'horny'' in 1969.Both written in English and Finnish language,this was a rather hard-listening release with a sound close to psych,jazz and blues.''Tombstone Valentine'' shoed the arrival of bassist/violinist Peeka Pohjola,a major rock figure in Finland.Now,with a more delicate sound and reminding most of UK bands due to English singer Jim Pembroke,WIGWAM were ready to win wide success.THE BEATLES' influences are all over the place,combined with smooth violins and jazzy guitars.Very good work on piano by Jukka Gustavson,a classical-trained member focused on a more symphonic style of playing,especially in some superb organ intros.While ''Tombstone valentine'' isn't a release,which will leave you mind-blown,it's a good album,sometimes dominated by pop partts,sometimes it has a quite psych atmosphere,other ones jazzy/bluesy guitars lead the way.A recommended release for fans of early-70's smootyh and jazzy progressive/art rock. ......

With this album the band tried to attract some international attention, as KIM FOWLEY arrived from England to do the production. Maybe this lowers it's value in my ears, as I liked WIGWAM's debut album's rawness and the wildness of their ideas. This album has much more commercial sound in it, and the added "crazy parts" (excerpts from Kureniemi's electronic music) seem quite artsy. There are still good tracks on this album, like PEKKA POHJOLA's violin driven "1936 Lost in the Snow". "Wishful Thinker" is also beautiful song, but it sounds like a direct plagiarism of THE BAND's "Unfaitful Servant". .....

Undeniably the crown jewel of Finnish progressive rock, Wigwam released Tombstone Valentine in 1970 and quickly gained international attention. Unlike the first album released a year earlier, this album was a more focused effort at creating memorable songs that were both unique and exciting. I would have to consider it more of a pop album that had strong progressive elements sprinkled throughout. The addition of new members Jukka Tolonen(guitarist) and bassist/composer Pekka Pohjola brought a cohesiveness that had not yet been attained on 1969'sHard N' Horny. The rest of the line-up featured Jukka Gustavson on vocals, organ, piano; Ronnie Sterberg on drums; Jim Pembroke on vocals: Heikki Laurila on guitar; banjo; and Kalevi Nyqvist on accordion. Where Hard N' Horny was a more exploratory and disjointed effort, Tombstone Valentine can easily be compared with the likes ofProcul Harum, Traffic, and yes .... even the Beatles without ever loosing the progressive foundations we fans so admire and crave in our musical diets. Perhaps of even more significance is how this album essentially opened the door to several additional albums over the next few years that managed to get better and better as the group fully gelled and developed a style and sound that has become a hallmark of progressive rock.

No single element can be clearly defined as the definitive reason for this album's overall success, but I would offer a personal bias of sorts: I have always considered Pekka Pohjola to be one of the finest bassist ever. The first track has become the “go to” track for me, followed by the next ... all the way to the end. Throughout the album can be found elements from many schools of style and sound. Track 4 for example is very much in the Canterbury vein ala Soft Machine, Caravan, and Supersister. The first track has a psychedelic hook that is unstoppable. The jazz elements are strong and well placed. The musicianship presented here is easily on par with the likes of Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull. I really believe this is a band without limitations. If that sounds good to you, wait until you hear the album!

Esoteric Records/ Cherry Red Records has graciously included two bonus tracks on this reissue Pedagogi andHaato that were the A & B sides of a 1970 single released in Finland. Owning these two tracks alone is reason enough to pick up your own copy, but Esoteric went further still and included a fine essay to boot. The artwork is fully restored as well, so by all means secure a copy for your own collection, and enjoy some great tracks from Finland's finest.

*** + Thomas Rhymer ......

Second album from Finnish band Wigwam (remastered edition) which really do not have much to do with progmusic. It is rather more rock in the laidback tradition of say The band (which they occationally sounds like) and on track #2 "In Gratitude" they even sound like Traffic. This by no means at all groundbreaking, even for the time of release. But mind you, it is not bad, just...ahem...you heard it all before. For Wigwam fans I guess this is wonderful, since the vinyl edition are rare and expensive. This one is for every economy to purchase and it is re-mastered, with fine booklet and new essay! Plus you get 2 bonus track! So this mixed bag tells me that Wigwam haven't quite found their musical feat yet! You get some country-like music, some rock, some pop, blues and even a jazzy track "For America". Of course this band provided the rock world with Bass-maestro Pekka Pohjola and Jukka Tolonen´s excellent guitarplaying (both to be further developed in years to come!), by the way, the songs (except for the bonus tune "Haato") are in perfect English since singer Jim Pembroke hails from England. ........

- Jukka Gustavson / vocals, organ, piano
- Ronnie sterberg / drums
- Jim Pembroke / vocals
- Pekka Pohjola / bass, violin
+ Heikki Laurila / guitar, banjo
- Kalevi Nyqvist / accordion
- Jukka Tolonen / guitar

01. Tombstone Valentine (3:03)
02. In Gratitude! (3:44)
03. Dance of the Anthropoids (1:08)
04. Frederick & Bill (4:24)
05. Wishful Thinker (3:43)
06. Autograph (2:36)
07. 1936 Lost in the Snow (2:08)
08. Let the World Ramble On (3:19)
09. For America (4:21)
10. Captain Supernatural (3:01)
11. End (3:35)


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