Brainstorm

Last Smile

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These jazz-rockers from Germany were known to be a formidable live band, with an all-out jamming style and loose structures. Last Smile catches Brainstorm live in mid-1974, shortly before the group broke up. Since this was recorded for West German radio, the sound quality is excellent. Though the version of "Das Scwein Trugt," a track from their first album, is not quite as explosive as the studio version, the tracks from Second Smile, "Marilyn Monroe" and "There Was a Time," are drastically reworked. "Marilyn Monroe" has been trimmed of some of its more radical sections, while the Leon Thomas piece "There Was a Time" has been stretched out into a wild 12-and-a-half-minute opus of throbbing jazz-funk with bits of dissonant free jazz thrown in, and as good as the version on Second Smile was, this one has more power. The pair of new songs that round out the disc, "Signed" and "Stars on the Stage," are quite good too, maybe not as weird or as varied as the eccentric material on the first record, with abrupt changes like the songs on the second. Both tracks contain long instrumental passages with plenty of blistering solos for flute, sax, clarinet, and guitar over the loose but lively rhythms, as well as quirky vocals.