Samla Mammas Manna

Samla/Zamla Box

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In January of 2008, the Japanese Arcangelo label re-released all the albums by Swedish avant-proggers Samla Mammas Manna/Zamla Mammaz Manna originally issued between 1971 and 1980: 1971's Samla Mammas Manna featuring keyboardist Lars Hollmer, bassist Lars Krantz, drummer Hans Bruniusson, and percussionist Henrik "Bebben" Öberg; 1974's Måltid and 1975's Klossa Knapitatet, both recorded after the departure of Öberg and the addition of guitarist Coste Apetrea to the lineup; 1976's Snorungarnas Symfoni, written by Gregory Fitzpatrick and performed by the Måltid/Klossa Knapitatet lineup with guest appearances by trumpeter Kalle Eriksson and saxophonist Ulf Wallander; and 1978's Schlagerns Mystik/För Äldre Nybegynnare and 1980's Familjesprickor (Family Cracks), both recorded after guitarist Apetrea had been replaced by Eino Haapala (and with drummer Vilgot Hansson appearing on Familjesprickor as a replacement for Bruniusson, who departed the Zamlas soon after the album's sessions had started) and the group changed its name from Samla Mammas Manna to Zamla Mammaz Manna. The albums were remastered and presented in individual cardboard mini-LP sleeves reproducing the original album art, and in some cases also including bonus tracks. Arcangelo also packaged these re-releases in the Samla/Zamla Box, an eight-disc box set including the Gregory Fitzpatrick album Bildcirkus (Circus of Pictures), not actually a Samla/Zamla album but featuring Apetrea and Bruniusson among the personnel.

The Samla/Zamla Box is a nice package for Samla/Zamla/Hollmer diehards, particularly given the albums' remastering and bonus tracks, and the mini-LP covers are meticulously detailed (even including the Bildcirkus cover's pop-up artwork). The Schlagerns Mystik/För Äldre Nybegynnare double-disc set also includes a mini-reproduction of the original double album's poster. More casual fans or curious newcomers may wish to take a more targeted approach to exploring this important corner of Swedish rock history, however, by seeking out the individual albums starting with Familjesprickor and working backwards through the '70s; a relatively easy argument can be made that the Samlas/Zamlas continued to improve musically as the decade progressed. One might also question the inclusion of Bildcirkus -- Gregory Fitzpatrick was clearly a sympathetic collaborator with the Samlas but he was also somewhat more conventionally proggy and tamped down their craziest impulses. And then there is that other "Zamla," namely Von Zamla, the wonderful Hollmer/Haapala recording project/band of the early '80s -- there is nothing from Von Zamla included in the Samla/Zamla Box. Certainly a case can be made for drawing a line between Zamla Mammaz Manna and Von Zamla for the purposes of this package, but then again, Bildcirkus arguably ventures even farther afield. (The first Von Zamla album, 1982's Zamlaranamma, has been reissued on CD but second album No Make Up!, from 1983, has yet to appear in a digital format; Cuneiform's live 1983 is probably the most easily obtainable Von Zamla disc at this writing.) So, this is an attractive must-have for diehards; others will discover many musical rewards through more selective searches through the discographies of the artists involved.