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8 Sep 2016

Bokaj Retsiem “‎Psychedelic Underground” 1969 German Psych Rock

Bokaj Retsiem “‎Psychedelic Underground” 1969 German Psych Rock
Credited as one of the best late ‘60s German psych-rock albums, 1968’s 'Psychedelic Underground’ by Bokaj Retsiem ('Meister Jakob’ with the letters reversed!) is an eccentric, soulful, acidy and fuzz-rockin’ exploitation work that clearly prefigures a part of the Krautrock movement. Featuring Rainer Degner, the former guitarist of '60s beat group German Bonds, as the composer and only credited musician (although other musicians assisted him on a.o. bass and organ), this is basically Rainer’s freaked-out tribute to his favourite children’s song, 'Meister Jakob’, consisting of trippy instrumental sections, furiously savage e-guitar crescendos, amazing psych-rock improvisations, and a slight hint of '60s US garage-psych. 'Psychedelic Underground’ is an exciting psych-kraut trip for fans of Vanilla Fudge, Hendrix and Iron Butterfly. Bokaj Retsiem’s album basically belongs to the same family of exploito-LP’s as the ones that are credited to Hell Preachers Inc., Electric Food and Pink Mice, all of which were recorded with involovement from the musicians who’d become known as Lucifer’s Friend in the '70s. ….. 

Rainer Degner, previously the guitarist of the sixties beat group German Bonds, had a passion for the old German children’s song “Meister Jakob”. In fact, this is also the real name of this studio project (with session musicians), but due to the arrival of psychedelia, strange things were happening, and the letters “bokaj retsiem” must be reversed to make any sense! 

The project’s sole proto-psych album “Psychedelic Underground”, released in 1968 with the help of other ex-German Bond collegues, holds several tracks which are weird variations of this song. Degner’s fuzzy guitar is striking as well as uncanny keyboard contributions plus recitatives and English vocals provided with German accent. 

Degner’s album included some absolutely perverse arrangements of “Meister Jakob”, but also some great acid guitar parts in the typical late sixties style. …. 

From the atrocious junior-high level psychedelic cover artwork that graces Bokay Retsiem’s Psychedelic Underground, it might seem the most appropriate first response would be to bury the album underground. And although the exploitative genesis of the music is certainly discernible and often distractingly so, it does have somewhat more to offer than initial assumptions betray. Little is know about the release. It was released in 1968 on a German exploitation label. Reiner Degner is the featured musician. He composes all eleven songs and interludes, but the other players - assisting on keyboards, bass, and organ - are unknown. That is just as well, and perhaps symbolic, because the music is mostly faceless and indistinct. Most of the tracks are separated by superfluous instrumental interludes, each one variation on the “Three Blind Mice” melody, seemingly to show off some additional tonal color or, more likely, Degner’s nifty guitar skills. Admittedly, some the guitar playing is superb, and Psychedelic Underground has an irresistibly swank ambience that captures perfectly the seedy go-go chic of the times, but guitar playing and trippy, drugged-out ambience alone do not create songs. Minus actual songwriting vision, the music sounds exceedingly dated. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to appreciate (or be amused by) about the endeavor. “So Bad” opens the album with a nifty bad-vibe interpolation of the Animals’ version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and then proceeds to play that freakout groove into the ground via blatant Hendrix cops. Despite the excesses, though, the guitar work is frequently nervy and exciting, and occasionally even inventive, dipping into Middle Eastern chord progressions, while the phased organ and guitar hit upon a drunken, oscillating vibe. The German-accented English of “I’m So Afraid” is virtually incomprehensible, but it matters little because it is one of the album’s most successful cuts, with fabulously swanky Hammond B3 organ adding a bit of humor beneath excessive (but wonderfully phased) guitar runs. By and large, though, the conceits of the recording are cringe-inducing. For that reason alone, Psychedelic Underground is almost impossible to listen to as a serious piece of music, but it does offer its share of enjoyment if listened to in the spirit of the era….by allmusic…. 

Rainer Degner — guitar, vocals 
Peter Hecht — keyboards 
Dieter Horns — bass, vocals 
Peter «Peet» Becker — drums, percussions 

01. So Bad — 6:00 
02. Classic Bokaj — 0:26 
03. It’s Over — 4:17 
04. Only A Child — 0:49 
05. Sad Bokaj — 0:47 
06. I’m So Afraid — 3:35 
07. Bokaj Retsiem — 5:40 
08. Bossa Bokaj — 0:27 
09. Pill — 4:45 
10. Something’s Wrong With Bokaj — 0:42 
11. Drifting — 4:36 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..