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13 Jun 2017

Minus Two " SWF Session" 1972 Germany Kraut Rock Prog Rock

Minus Two " SWF Session" 1972 Germany Kraut Rock Prog Rock


This is another truly gem from the SWF broadcast vaults recorded in 1972. Minus Two founded in early 1971 in Mannheim (hometown of Nine Days Wonder) by organ player Günter Kühlwein (guest musician on Dzyan's 1. Album) and drummer Walter Helbig (also played with Nine Days Wonder and AERA) played a powerful progressive music sound sometimes with a certain sense of drama, melted classical influences with blues-rock and slightly jazzy hints. Early 'Hardin & York playing' comes to mind, but Minus Two always showed their own imagination of progressive rock. All titles are self-penned and prove the musicians high level abilities playing their instruments and there are only organ and drums. Believe us, you don't miss any other instruments! This is a very complete sound by perfect trained musicians. CD contains 3 long tracks and short opener 'Sticks & Keys' from the SWF vaults plus one bonus track. All titles were remastered from original master tapes. Booklet contains band history with a lot of photos. Don't miss this limited edition! Highly recommended.............

Perhaps a better title would be He's the Keyboardist, I'm the Drummer. The keyboard-and-drums lineup will probably make you think of Billy Joel's Attila, whose only record was described by AMG (in a ridiculous moment of hyperbole) as the worst album in the history of recorded music. Minus Two, I'm glad to say, do not come close to those depths.

There's just something slightly absurd about the concept of a duo consisting only of a keyboardist and a drummer. They both look pretty bummed out on the cover, maybe they're thinking "we could have been lawyers or doctors but instead we're a keyboard and drum duo that nobody's heard of". It also sounds pretty funny when they both put on high pitched voices and start scat-singing at once.

Even though there are only two instruments there is absolutely no self-indulgence. There's not a single drum solo chucked in for the hell of it, the drums are far more impactive in their skilful supportive role. The keyboard playing is inventive and melodic - dig that sizzling solo at the start of "Welcome For You"! It's a testament to their skills as songwriters that the near-13 minute epic "First Romance" doesn't even contain any extended solos! The sad thing is there's probably some poor sod out there whose first romance was soundtracked by this very song...

Will I listen to this again any time soon? Probably not. But for 37 minutes of German prog-jazz this is very entertaining. And slightly absurd too, which is all part of the fun (did I mention the silly lyrics?). Another draw would be this album's status as a genuine obscurity - it seems pretty much all lost Krautrock/Prog gems have now been unearthed, but not this one! Maybe the world is scared of a keyboard and drum duo, I dunno.

The last track is live on stage, which hints that there might be more to come from this band - 3 disc live boxset, maybe? ........

What Germany was really good at was producing keyboard/drum duos like the one presented here.Minus Two came from Viernheim near Mannheim, a music project formed by keyboardist and singer Günter Kuehlwein and drummer Walter Helbig, both playing in 1971 (time of Minus Two's formation) in local groups, Kuehlwein had also appeared as a guest keyboardist in Dzyan's self-titled debut.As with many acts of the time they failed to create a proper album, but had the chance to record a session at SWF Studios, which was released in 2010 on Long Hair Music.

The only true instruments in the album is a Hammond organ and a drum kit, so what music could produce such a formation else than jamming organ-driven Psychedelic Rock with Classical and Jazz touches, akin to E.L.P., THE NICE or BRIAN AUGER'S OBLIVION EXPRESS.They sound as a clone of compatriots SIXTY-NINE, but they appear to be a very tight duo with Kuehlwein often displaying his GREG LAKE-like voice.The music varies from organ masturbations to extended psychedelic backgrounds with a romantic atmosphere to powerful Classical-like Rock with many interludes and preludes, eventually leading to dynamic fanfares with a drummer having a rather jazzy-spiced style of playing.As a result the music is far from boring, it comes in dramatic, poetic and virtuosic fashions in about equal doses, the jamming parts are typical of a Kraut Rock band of the time and the absence of bass is hardly notable due to the very rich organ enviroment.On the other hand all these keyboard/drums duos presented Experimental Rock at its deepest form, 30 minutes of music are long enough to capture the formation's free musical spirit, but any minute beyond this sounds like an excess.All tracks were recorded at SWF Studios except the last one, ''Differences'', which was a shortened, live version of the already presented piece, recorded in the Baden-Baden area.

After Minus Two Heblig was involved for a brief time in Nine Days Wonder's and Aera's line-ups, while Kuehlwein became a music lecturer, participated in several albums as a guest and collaborated with many Americans Jazz and Soul musicians.

Hammond organ orgasms with jazzy drumming craziness in a supertight but hardly essential offering.Recommended for lovers of keyboards, old-styled psych manifests and virtuosic ..........

This first-ever release of any music by this excellent Germany duo consisting of Hammond organ & vocals and drums, percussion and vocals.

The two members, Günther Kühlwein (organ) and Walter Helbig (drums) were long-time band mates in a number of ensembles, but with the huge rise of underground music in the early 70s, they decided to form a totally progressive music band and since they were in perfect agreement about how they wanted the music to sound, they decided that a duo format was perfect. They conceived themselves from the beginning as a guitar, organ, bass & drums band 'minus two'. They started working together as Minus Two in early 1971.

Great playing from both performers, with a nice sound that throws together a bit of breezy jazz/bluesy influences (one can not forget what a huge influence Brian Auger was in those days), classical music trappings and an over-all very progressive sound for these early days.

This features a short opener and three long tracks and the sound quality is great. This is about as perfect of an early proto-prog archival discovery can be. The booklet includes a band history with plenty of photos! .............

A Progband from Viernheim! Four home? The small town not far from Mannheim will probably not know too many readers of the baby blue pages. The reviewer knows it very well, however, was born there his father. One also invariably passes Viernheim by driving from Weinheim (where I have spent the majority of my life so far) to Mannheim. In addition, the first and still largest shopping center in the Rhine-Neckar area is located in Viernheim.

However, the two music students Günter Kühlwein and Walter Helbig also lived in Viernheim in the early 1970s. The two played there still in a soulband called Excelsior, which was evidently quite successful in the Mannheimer room. In the spring of 1971 the two separated from the band to put something on their own. Obviously, no other players (or deliberately waived) were found, so that they soon appeared under the name minus two. The band did not last long and they did not release a record. Later, both musicians moved to Switzerland (with Helbig drumming a short time before at Aera), to the Hochschule der Künste in Basel. Kühlwein lives and teaches obviously still there.

In 2010, Long Hair Music released yet another album by minus two. In July 1972, Kühlwein and Helbig had recorded a short radio station for the Südwestfunk in Baden Baden, which had been carefully kept in the archives of the station and - as the title already makes clear - the core of the archive CD "SWF Session 1972" , The sound of these recordings is excellent. In addition, there is a short Livemitschnitt from the same year with somewhat inferior sound quality.

A little more than half an hour of music have played minus two in the summer 1972 in the SWF studio U1. Organ and drums can be heard here. Now and then is also sung. Organ drummer duos has given it a few, just think of one of the first bands of Billy Joel named Attila or the Swedes Hansson & Karlsson. In Germany too, the Sixty Nine formation was almost to the north of the two quadrennials. Stylistically, the music produced by these bands is very similar. At the very least, what is commanded at first hearing sounds quite similar. A type of organ prog is the one that offers mainly pushing keystrokes, with a varied drumming. To the only studio album of Sixty Nine (see "Circle Of The Crayfish") I wrote that the music sounds as if Keith Emerson had jammed with Carl Palmer in the duo. This comparison also works for minus two. However, here he probably jammed Emerson with Brian Davison. Pretty delicate and nested are minus two here, very jazzy, little bombastic, very pointed, playful and direct. In addition to this, Kühlwein's pleasant singing, which still shows that he was previously active in a soul band. Accent-free and discreet-powerful, he provides the pieces in a pleasing way with text and sometimes also saves with the necessary little bit of pathos.

"SWF-Session 1972" is a nice disc with classical organ prog from Germany, which despite, or because of its rather short playing time quite a lot of fun (very large is the tonal variety here, of course not). Anyone who has the classical organ sound of the early 70s and, for example, The Nice and ELP, or even Hansson & Karlsson (and the solo albums Bo Hanssons), should listen to here! Breiling..........

Günter Kühlwein – Hammond organ, lead vocals
Walter Helbig – drums, percussion, vocals

01. Sticks And Keys — 3:27
02. Differences — 9:05
03. First Romance — 12:42
04. Welcome For You — 7:22
05. Differences (Live) — 4:56

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





Cassete Deck

Cassete Deck