Grobschnitt

Jumbo

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The English language lyrics to Jumbo may not be the most profound in the history of progressive rock, but lyrics aren't really the reason anyone, German or English, listened to Grobschnitt. This band earned their many fans for their distinctive sound and refreshing inability to take themselves seriously. The sense of fun is hinted at on the album cover, which shows a host of cartoon characters from European advertising all jammed into a old-fashioned open-cockpit airplane. On the disc are the usual Grobschnitt trademarks: mind-blowing ensemble work on progressive suites led by guitar and keyboards, with soaring vocals by Stefan Danielak and wacky spoken bits and sound effects by prankster drummer Joachim Ehrig. The long and complex tracks have interesting changes in tempo and time signatures, and measured as individual pieces these are some of the better works by this band. Indeed, "Sunny Sunday's Sunset" is one of the best things the group ever did, reminding one somewhat of Nektar in their very best moments. Grobschnitt was often compared to Yes for both virtuosity and instrumental interplay, and on this album the reason for the comparison is obvious. It is difficult to imagine any actual confusion between the two, partly because Yes never had a drummer who tossed funny voices and animal imitations into otherwise normal songs. If you are looking for Jumbo and can only find the German version, feel free to get it instead, as it is musically almost identical and every bit as enjoyable. It may even be a better overall experience, as you are free to listen to the sweeping majesty of "The Excursion of Father Smith" without being distracted by the vague and confusing story line. [Note: Progressive rock fanatics may notice an eerie similarity between some instrumental themes in this album and albums released slightly earlier by Nektar and the Welsh group Man. In fact, all three albums were recorded at about the same time and all three groups played together at several European concerts. Whether by accident or as an in-joke to fans, all used the same 12-note solo guitar figure to begin an instrumental cut.]

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