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21 Jun 2017

Midsommar "Midsommar" 1972 Sweden Prog Rock

Midsommar "Midsommar"  1972 Sweden Prog Rock


Midsummer is one of the most cherished holidays in Sweden and many people celebrate the midsummer night out in the country. We eat traditional food and drink ”brännvin”, a special kind of alcoholic beverage, often enhanced with spices and flowers. Celebration often starts in the afternoon and continues until early the next morning.

Midsummer is ”midsommar” in Swedish, and the name seems highly appropriate for the band who chose it as their name. Their lyrics often deal from with topics closely connected with ”the old Sweden”, sometimes in relation to the so called progress of modern times. Nature, traditions and life in the old days are common subjects. The lyrics are political in a broader sense in pointing out the flaws of modern society, but they're kept in a general mode so just anybody suspicious of greed, commercialism and environmental issues can agree with them.

Midsommar is best known for their hard rocking debut ”Belsebub är lös”, one of the earliest examples of rock music with Swedish lyrics. Their second one, the eponymously titled ”Midsommar” veers towards a softer sound, sometimes akin to folk rockers Contact. ”Midsommar” still has some heaviness to it, but the song types are mellower in general. This isn't bad at all, because Midsommar were good songwriters, at least in terms of music. Lyricswise, they are somewhat naive even if the subject matters are important (which hardly will bother any foreign listener). Having said that, ”Midsommar” is more uneven than ”Belsebub är lös”, and a few of the songs here are actually downright bad. That goes for ”Killen och bostadsbristen” which comes across like a heavier version of some Swedish dance band of the 70's, and ”Reklamdjungeln” (although I'm genuinely sympathetic to the anti-commercialism message of the lyrics).

The opening track ”Illusionen av en färdigutbildad akademiker” is probably the best known track on the album since it was included on the 4 CD box set ”Pregnant Rainbows for Colourblind Dreamers” which was released in conjunction with Tobias Pettersons excellent ”Encyclopedia of Swedish Progressive Music 1967-1979”. The choice of this Santana inspired uptempo track might give the wrong notion of ”Midsommar”. Songs like the decidedly Contact sounding ”Sedan urminnes tider”, the semi folksy ”Balladen om Belfast”, the heavy organ led ballad ”Naturen kämpar” and the rural ”James Lindberg Hughes” is far more typical to the album in general. To my ears, songs like these outshine most of the material on ”Belsebub är lös”, but given the unevenness of the album as a whole, ”Belsebub” probably gets the thumbs up over this one in the end. Also, it's worth pointing out that the vocals on ”Midsommar” sometimes have a bit of a crooning nature that isn't as obvious on the debut album. I have no problem with that myself, but some listeners might have so it's worth mentioning.

Over the years there has been a debate over the actual release dates of both Midsommar albums, and many people were uncertain if this one or ”Belsebub” was the first album. No year of release is printed on any of the albums. The arguments seem settled now though, and ”Belsebub är lös” is considered to have been released in 1970 and the follow-up in 1971. As far as I know, none of the Midsommar albums have been reissued, but "Midsommar" is easier to find than "Belsebub".

There is also an album by a band called Jukebox who released on album on Marilla in 1975 with three of the Midsommar members present. Organist Dan Pihl later produced Swedish comic character Ronny Jönsson (by actor Claes Malmberg) as well as single by disco queen Tina Charles! Saxophone player Reg Ward later joined for instance Dimmornas Bro, Mörbyligan and Magnus Uggla for session work. He also teamed up with Ulf Lundell on his Nature backed live album ”Natten hade varit mild och öm” recorded in 1976.....Swedish Progg blog...................

The album has no release year printed, Although the two LP are published by different companies so it does not appear in any of them what year they came out.
According to the book "Scented Gardens Of The Mind"
1) Midsommar -1971? [Moondisc ARD-1633]
2) Belsebub Är Lös - 1972? [Gazell Records GMG-1224]

This is not, however say others, arguing that released "Midsummer" 1970 / "Belsebub" 1972 .
But others claims and argue that "Belsebub är lös" is their first album and the songs from it were heard on the radio back in 1971....hmm...suggesting that...
Midsommar - Belsebub Är Lös 1971, GMG-1224 (Gazell)
Midsommar - Midsommar 1972, ARD 1633 (Moondisc)
So it's a bit of a mystery.

But there is no doubt that Midsommar were among the earliest rock bands to use Swedish lyrics.
This is typical Swedish political prog where topics such as pacifism, environmental destruction, demolition hysteria and anti-commercialism included. The album are very expensive and almost impossible to find,if talking about "Belzebub is loose,"This LP is valued as: Very rare. Remember That it is on Gazell Records in very few copies!Valuation (About 1600 USD)refers to the original edition on vinyl in excellent condition (EX / EX). Either way, both in a company soon render the albums on the CD. They deserve to be heard by more people.

Regarding the album "Midsummer" so it's a really good album, and more melodic than I had anticipated. The opening song "Illusionen Av En Färdigskolad Akademiker" (3:46) is almost a classic with its Santana-rhythms and temper. "Sedan Urminnes Tider" (3:47), sounds like something Contact Kudne have done, with its anchors in the Swedish folk music. "Killen Och Bostadsbristen" (4:38) is a sadder story, heavy riffs, but all too predictable, obvious where the text / social message more important than their music here ... Funny text by the way. "Naturen Kämpar" (5:38) are really good, with its slow tempo, sax and fine tune. A couple of songs drag down the overall rating but overall, I like this album. That said, I expected a rockier affair, but is definitely not disappointed by this, for the many quieter songs ["Balladen Om Belfast" (3:32), James Lindbergh Hughes"] is really really good. The plate deserves to be heard by others. It's pretty easy to get on vinyl. On their first album there was a strong focus on political subjects and the music seemingly took second place to the lyrics. A decent album, although overshadowed by their next effort." Belsebub is loose," which is said to be even better! Anyway, a very good album from start to finish, and a plate that I never tire of!

If "Belsebub är lös" dissolve ... was a classic with omnipresent lead guitar and sax riffing backed by a wild Hammond organ. Their style had Similarities to Traffic's second album (1968), Burnin 'Red Ivanhoe's debut and Mr.. Albert Show, but the strong Swedish Midsummer's distinctive vocals made....,also said to be their best, can be compared to contemporary bands such as Nature, Reindeer Heart, Live Life, etc. Also other LP that has a more political image of the texts is also the popular but is not quite as heavy as the "Midsummer".
"Belsebub är lös" is jazzy, bluesy, and it is definitely true. But it's also one hell of a feature in it! The only song I'm not over fond of the " Fantomen" (6:41) ... a bit of banal text and half-sad music. For those of you who are my age (46) - or younger and older for that matter - and like bands like November, Blodwyn Pig, etc, this is a splendid plate. "Till Morsan" (3:48) ??is a classic Swedish heavy-rock song!................................

1. Illusionen av en färdigskolad akademiker (3:47)
2. Sedan urminnes tider (3:52)
3. Killen och bostadsbristen (4:35)
4. Balladen om Belfast (3:35)
5. Naturen kämpar (5:40)
6. Reklamdjungeln (2:21)
7. Morfars visa (3:04)
8. TV-låt (3:10)
9. James Lindberg Hughes (4:29)
10. Den okände soldaten (7:24)

Layout [Cover Layout] – Ulf Binnquist
Organ, Piano – Dan Pihl (2)
Photography By [Cover] – Christer Lundin
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Percussion – Reg Ward
Vocals, Bass – Hans Olsson (3)
Vocals, Drums – Peder Sundahl
Vocals, Guitar – Lennart Andrén
Vocals, Percussion – Weyne Feldt

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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