Just months after their formation in Berlin in 1970, Karthago began recording music for their first album. Karthago's sound was influenced more by North American rock than by anything that was coming out of Europe, composed of a tapered and rather simplistic mixture of light funk and freestyle jazz with a basic rock & roll substratum for everything else to rest on. Within the album's nine tracks are melodies that are accommodating and recognizable, quite different than what was otherwise coming out Germany's music scene in the early '70s. "String Rambler," "Black Fire," and "Morning Surprise" best represent Karthago's breezy, undemanding air, led by the bright organ playing of Ingo Bischoff and fastened by Wolfgang Brock's unmitigated drum work. "Why Don't You Stop Buggin' Me" and the shimmering "wow" of "But I Know"'s keyboard-guided intro lead into some electrifying pieces, with comparisons to Steppenwolf, Procol Harum, and even early Chicago arising from the melodies. Although labeled as a progressive band, Karthago's sound is more along the lines of German rock rather than prog, with shorter song lengths and a tendency to balance out the keyboards, guitar, and percussion equally throughout their music. After their fourth album in 1976, Karthago broke up, with Gerald Hartwig joining the more prominent Guru Guru and Bischof hooking up with Kraan. Second Step (1973) and 1974's Rock 'N' Roll Testament begin to show signs of commercial leanings, but their last installment, entitled Live at the Roxy, is just as impressive as their debut album.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne