A Brief History
Without a shadow of doubt, the most popular band in the progressive rock scene to emerge from Finland in the seventies, was the group Wigwam. One of the most important features of this band was their ability to condense music of high progressive quality coupled with pop hooks into "short" tracks, a feat that the majority of bands from that time and of the same genre, were unable to do. Unfortunately, as happens to many bands that do not hail from either the U.K. or the U.S.A., they were always on the brink of breaking through internationally, but for some reason or another they never quite cut it. The history of Wigwam can be subdivided into two separate eras: 1969 - 1974 and 1974 - 1977. The nineties, however, has seen Wigwam with a new lineup playing and recording under the same moniker.
The band has its origins in another group, namely Blues Section, a group that has its place within Finnish rock history as being one of the pioneering jazz-rock bands. Inspired by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers this band had only lasted a year and a half, but in that period released a number of recordings, as well as made a name for itself on the local circuit. The split up of Blues Section led to the formation of Wigwam.
Thus the first Wigwam line-up was formed in 1968 and consisted of former Blues Section drummer Ronnie Österberg, bassist Mats Hulden, guitarist Nikke (Vladimir) Nikamo and English expatriate singer Jim Pembroke who had also had a stint as a vocalist with Blues Section. The Blues Section influence was still tangible when the band recorded their first single in 1969 on Love Records (the same company who had released the Blues Section material), which was Must Be The Devil / Greasy Kids' Stuff (Love Records LRS 1021).
The band's creativity would be further augmented by the arrival of Jukka Gustavson, a seventeen year old classically trained pianist and composer. Thus the band had the luxury of having amongst its ranks two distinctively different composers and organists, a factor that would characterise the sound of the band (at least initially). 1969 also saw the band release two further singles, one of which is an obscure release and a valuable collector's item. In December 1969, Luulosairas / Highway Code (Love Records, LRS 1028) was released and reached number 14 in the Finnish charts while a single was also released in America on the Imperial label as True Confession / Helsinki (Imperial 66400). What makes this single peculiar is the fact that the tracks laid down were Blues Section tracks, that were originally titled End Of The Poem and East Is Red. Strangely enough, Luulosairas was the single released to promote the band's first album, yet while had garnered a certain amount of success in Finland, it was left off the album. It seems that the Procol Harum virus also affected Wigwam!
The band released their first album Hard And Horny (Love Records LRLP 9) and the schizophrenic compositional material there was within the band, was immediately apparent. The first side was entirely devoted to compositions by Jukka Gustavson, who sung in both Finnish and English, featuring a progressive blues style. The second side was a concept devised by Pembroke, which dealt with the life of a certain Henry. One of the problems that the band faced when recording the album, was the fact that they had overrun the budget allocated to them by Love Records and had no money left for the cover. So the first pressing of the album involved hand painted covers by the members of the band themselves! Needless to say they are now valuable items for collectors.
Few people heard the debut album outside of Finland, but the band were making a name for themselves on the live circuit, as their concerts consisted of one long jam session that incorporated material from groups as The Band and The Beatles, together with their original stuff. The band caught the attention of veteran producer Kim Fowley, who also agreed to produce the band's second album, Tombstone Valentine. Fowley was convinced that the band's ability to condense so many musical ideas into a short time span, as well as clever hooks would make them the next Beatles. When he approached the band, they were working out with the production of the musical Hair to make ends meet, and his association with the band also brought about the first casualty. Guitarist Nikamo fell out with Fowley, resulting in Nikamo's departure from the fold. Furthermore, bassist Mats Huldén also left the band (to further pursue his studies) and his place was taken by another brilliant composer and bassist, Pekka Pohjola.
Tombstone Valentine (Love Records,LRLP) was released in 1970 and has the distinction as being the first ever Finnish rock record to be released in the USA (Verve Forecast FTS 3089). In the USA, it was released as a double album in 1971 with added tracks taken from the band's first album plus some Blues Section songs and material from other Love Records artists. One of the important factors to appear on the album was Pohjola's contribution, showing that he was equally adept at coming up with a jazz-flavoured track (1936 Lost In the Snow) as well as a more pop-orientated piece (Frederick & Bill). With the loss of Nikamo during the recording of the album, the band resorted to Jukka Tolonen, guitarist with fellow Finn prog-rockers Tasavallan Presidentti to help out on the album. Further to the release of the album, a promotional single was also released in the USA called Wishful Thinker / Call Me On Your Telephone (Verve Forecast KF5114).
Back home, the band were a household name, helped nonetheless by the fact that their second album was being released in the States. However, when one would analyse the material the band was playing, one could sense that the three composers within Wigwam were all pulling in three different directions. This became even more apparent when they came to record their third album, Fairyport (Love Records, LRLP 44/45). Fairyport nowadays is considered a classic within progressive rock circles and it has a number of features that make it stand out as one of the great progressive albums of the seventies. Opener Losing Hold is the only track that features a collaboration from all three of the band songwriters (Pohjola, Pembroke and Gustavson), while the rest of the album is divided into Pembroke's shorter "pop" tunes, Gustavson's complex brass-laden tracks and Pohjola's avant-garde, Zappa-esque tunes. Gustavson was not only maturing as a songwriter, but also as a lyricist with various references on his part to his Joined To Conscience theme which was featured in no less than four of the album tracks. When the band came to record the album they realised that they only had material that could occupy one and a half records, so the last side of the second vinyl disc is taken up by a live jam session (very typical of Wigwam concerts) with the help of Jukka Tolonen once again. Tolonen would join the group unofficially for many concerts and recording sessions.
However, there friction was brewing within the ranks of the band. It was obvious that the creative nature of the band needed to be released elsewhere. And so Pohjola and Pembroke set about recording solo albums. Furthermore, the band were having difficulty in playing much of their material live as it was too complex, especially the Gustavson penned tracks. This surely must have irked Gustavson, making his days in the band numbered. However, he would not leave without leaving his masterpiece as a legacy.
Pohjola released an all instrumental album, Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva (Love Records LRLP 71), which immediately showed Wigwam fans that this musician was being somewhat stifled within the constraints of the band and that his best material would be reserved for his solo outings.
On the other hand, Pembroke's solo outing was a very different kettle of fish to what he was known for composing with Wigwam. The album was released under the pseudonym of Hot Thumb's O'Reilly and titled Wicked Ivory (Love Records LRLP 52), with the other members of Wigwam acting as backing band. The album saw complex arrangements and obscurity being the order of the day, very different to the commercial material he would produce with Wigwam. The aim of the album was to mimic a Battle Of The Bands recorded live in a pub, and so fake crowd noises were used together with various fragments of tunes. One important composition to find its way on the album would be Grass For Blades, a track that would become a live favourite with Wigwam and which was recorded one verse short on the album, because the engineer ran out of tape during the recording of the track! Of interest is the fact that this album was also released in England on the Charisma label (Charisma CAS 1071) in 1973. However, the history of Jim Pembroke's solo output is a Forgotten Sons tale in itself and will be dealt with as such!
While Pohjola and Pembroke were busy recording their solo albums, Gustavson was set at working on the new Wigwam album, a feat which took him two years. Today, this is considered as being the Wigwam masterpiece. Though the album does have small contributions from Pohjola and Pembroke, one can sense that the brunt of the material can be attributed to Gustavson. The album Being was released in 1974 (Love Records LRLP 92) and immediately began to receive rave reviews, not just in Finland but also overseas. Ian MacDonald of the NME wrote "...Gustavson's compositions happen to be the most technically elliptical outside those of Henry Cow [with] bizarre 'free-verse' lyrics... giving way to outrageous electric piano/VCS 3 solos, delightful in their sheer fluency alone". The buzz brewing about the band also brought the attention of Virgin Records who brokered a licensing deal with Love Records and planned a tour of the UK for Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti, whose last album Milky Way Moses was co-written with the help of Pembroke. The future for the band was looking bright and they enlisted multi-instrumentalist Pekka Rechardt on guitar and cello for the tour.
Furthermore, Pembroke released his second solo album, Pigworm (Love Records LRLP 103) in Spring of 1974, once again with the help of his Wigwam band mates (except for Gustavson!). The album featured My Situation, a song which would become a live favourite for the band in years to come. However, for some time it seemed that the end of Wigwam had come, as Gustavson and Pohjola gave in their notice a few months after the release of Being.
With the band on a high, Love Records decided to record the last gigs of the band and release them as a double live album, Live Music From The Twilight Zone (Love Records LXlP 517/518). Once again, the whole track listing is evidence of the band's reluctance to play any Gustavson material due to his critical nature, and the album consists of cover versions, new material from Rechardt, and one song each from Pohjola's and Pembroke's solo albums.
Pohjola would go onto record one more album for Love Records, B The Magpie, which was also licensed to Virgin and released in the UK. Following the release of his album, he would team up with the first touring band of Mike Oldfield and also appear on the live album Exposed.
Less than a year after Wigwam had been officially disbanded, Jim Pembroke and Ronnie decided to get the band back together again. They re-enlisted Rekku Rechardt on guitar and cello together with bassist Måns "Mosse" Groundstroem. Groundstroem knew Wigwam, having played in Blues Section, Tasvallan Presidentti as well as having been the producer for Pembroke's solo albums and Wigwam's Being.
In 1975, the "new" Wigwam released Nuclear Nightclub (Love Records, LRLP 129). For the recordings of the album, the band brought in Esa Kotilainen on keyboards and electronics, but since he was already a member of Jukka Tolonen's latest band, he could not join the band. Heikki "Pedro" Hietanen was brought on instead. The album was released to rave reviews and became the band's biggest commercial success, receiving accolades not just from the Finnish music press. The release of the album in the UK (under license to Virgin) was promoted by a free concert in Hyde Park as well as the release of a single from the album Freddie Are You Ready / Kite (LRS 2028). Whilst in England, the band also recorded a new single, Tramdriver / Wardance (LRS 2100). However, the record label wanted a different B-side and so the English single was changed to Tramdriver / Nuclear Nightclub (Virgin VS 128).
The follow-up to Nuclear Nightclub was eagerly anticipated and the band relocated to England to record the album at Manor Studios. However, as often happens when pressure is placed on a band expected to deliver, the result is somewhat disappointing. Unlike Nuclear Nightclub, Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose (Love Records, LRLP 166) did not have the necessary number of tracks to make the album memorable and, more importantly, commercially successful. On the other hand, the group made up for their deficiencies in the studio when they went out on tour. The early months of 1976 saw the band touring with their label mates Gong throughout the UK, as well as performing in Scandinavia and other European countries. Their live shows kept getting better and better as time went by and they soon began to make a name for themselves oversea as an excellent live band.
In the Autumn of 1976, Jim Pembroke released his third solo album Corporal Cauliflower's Mental Function (Love Records LRLP 214), once again with the help of his Wigwam buddies. However, trouble was on the horizon and the band realised that the musical world was being taken over by corporations. Punk was in and any band not commercially successful, especially progressive rock bands, was going to have a hard time to release any material. Virgin refused to release Pembroke's solo album in the UK until Wigwam had finished their new album. The demo versions of the album, to be titled Daemon Duncetan's Request, were ready. However, when Virgin heard the album they immediately dissolved the contract they had with the band saying that the album was "too low key and non-commercial". The fact that the British Press had for some time been promoting the imminent release of the new Wigwam single, Wardance, did not have any affect on the record company. Love Records, on their part, postponed the release of the album and sent the band back into the studio to re-record the album.
When the now titled Dark Album (Love Records LRLP 227) was released in late 1977, Wigwam had ceased to exist. This was a pity, as the album in itself was a great improvement from Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose and, more important to the fans, featured Jukka Gustavson as a guest musician. Unfortunately, Love Records were facing bankruptcy by 1978, and had no means of supporting Wigwam, which also meant that the band dissolved. An (un)official Wigwam Farewell Show took place at Punkarock festival in the summer of 1978.
The ironic part about all of this was that Wardance, the proposed single off the album, was a funky number that would have surely been a hit and made stars out of this band. To rub salt into the wound, Virgin Records released a double album of Wigwam material called Rumours On The Rebound (VGD 3503) that featured a whole album's worth of material from the Dark Album which the label had previously rejected.
Following the disband of Wigwam, Pembroke kept on recording as a solo artist and eventually moved to Kansas, USA.
Unfortunately, founder member and drummer Ronnie Osterberg died suddenly in 1981 putting an end to any notion that the original lineup could ever reform.
Nikke Nikamo has been collaborating with Senegalese musicians, while Mats Huldén, Rekku Rechardt and Mosse Groundstroem have been involved in several bands and special individual projects. Jukka Gustavson has recorded a number of solo albums since his departure from Wigwam, something he does till this day.
In 1991, reformation was on the cards with a one-off gig at the Provinssirock festival. The reception was thunderous and resulted in a number of mini-tours. In 1993, the band released Light Ages on the small Polarvox label together with a single, Borders To Be Crossed / Planetstar (Polarvox HOPE-71). The line-up for this album included Pembroke, Rechardt, Groundstroem and new boy, keyboardist Mikko Rintanen. Reviews of the album were good as the band seemed to pick up and play the style with which they had left off in 1978.
The last few years have been relatively quiet on the Wigwam front, but there are strong rumours that they will be releasing a new album in early 2002, while EMI's Harvest label has released a double live album entitled Wigwam Plays Wigwam Live. Somehow it seems that the Wigwam story is still not yet over, and thank God for that!
written by: Nigel Camilleri
Musicians: Jukka Gustavson (vocal, organ, piano), Mats Húlden (bass), Nikke Nikamo (guitar), Jim Pembroke (vocal), Ronnie Österberg (drums)
Track 1 composed by Mats Húlden, Tracks 2 - 6 by Jukka Gustavson, Tracks 7 - 15 by Jim Pembroke
Production and additional arrangements by Otto Donner
Recording by Erkki Hyvönen/Finnvox
The first album from Wigwam is perhaps the album from the whole of the band's repertoire that most clearly demonstrates the divergence in both musical quality as well as influence that there existed between Jukka Gustavson and Jim Pembroke. The first half of the album would be entirely dedicated to Gustavson compositions while the second half would consist of Pembroke compositions. Furthermore it would the last album for a number of years that would include a permanent guitarist within the band framework.
Bassist Mats Huldén would provide his only contribution to the band in the opening piece 633 Jesu Fåglar, though this track would not be presented in its original context on the album. The original track ran for a longer period of time and only the first seven seconds were used for the album. The original version of this song, which sounds as if it is a pastiche of sounds in the musique concrete vein still has to see the light of day.
The remainder of the album would consist of compositions by Gustavson and Pembroke. The first half (ie: the next five tracks) are all Gustavson compositions. 633 Jesu Fåglar merges into Pidän Sinusta, a bluesy instrumental that has the keyboards providing the brunt of the musical element.
En Aio Paeta, has the first set of vocals to be heard by the band, and as oft happens on this first album, the lyrics are in Finish. The opening section reminded me of a Ford Theatre intro with the Hammond organ providing its characteristic drone. One of the first things to strike the listener is the fact that the band are rather direct in their musical approach preferring to deliver the goods immediately rather than beat around the bush before reaching the main focal point of the theme, a feature that results in the band having relatively "short" tracks especially when compared to other bands of a similar style to theirs from the same period.
Neron Muistolle; Hyvää Yötä shows the more complex side to Gustavson's musical character, something that would be expanded on in albums to come. The track consists of narration backed by a jazzed up piano playing to uncharacteristic drum patterns. Unfortunately to the non-Finnish listener, much of the dramatic effect of this track is lost in the Finnish narration. Guardian Angel, The Future has the band using English lyrics for the first time and has Gustavson toying a style very similar to what Traffic exploited, that of expanding their musical ideas based on a Rhythm & Blues rhythm. In fact listening to this track reminded of Dear Mr Fantasy, both in style and even in the way the vocals are presented in a Winwood-like way.
When one looks at Gustavson's contributions on this album one must note that very little of his complex musical arrangements come to the fore, except for Neron Muistolle; Hyvää Yötä, and No Pens, El Karsinoita is not different from most of the album. Once again the R&B influence pervades this instrumental track though there is the occasional hint at a jazz touch.
The second side is dedicated to Jim Pembroke's compositions which are a form of concept based loosely on the life of one Henry. ...Mountain Range Of Thereabouts immediately shows off Pembroke's rather more commercial style of composing. Starting off with a rhythmic bass line the track progresses into a great jazzy piece of music. Possibly his obviously greater command of the English language allowed Pembroke to use lyrics with much more liberty. Furthermore the fact that he was the vocalist in the band also meant that he would be less intent in creating complex instrumental sections. Another striking feature of Pembroke's compositions is the difference in the way the music is distributed amongst musical instruments. The keyboards no longer remain the dominant force of the band and both bass and guitar get their spots in the musical structure, as happens in ...Geographical And Astronomical Mistakes which has the first proper guitar solo on the album.
...Highway Code retain the upbeat nature of Pembroke's compositions while ...Cancelled Holiday Plans has the band sounding like one of the numerous British beat groups that existed on the scene in those days. The rhythm is extremely captivating with a rumba feel to it though this then dies down to give way to a rather similar style to the previous tracks.
...Concentration Camp Brochure picks up the main theme of the second side, though performed at a much slower pace than previously. ...Ears, Eyes, Girlfriends And Feet re-evokes the very British feel that Pembroke introduces into the band's music, though the final percussive notes lead one to sense that the next track ..Hard And Horny All-Niter and the closer ...Milk Round In The Morning would be different to most of what this album presented. ..Hard And Horny All-Niter makes use of strings in an almost Burt Bacarach fashion and introduces sights and sounds with a Dixieland feel that one would expect to find on albums by groups such as The Kinks or The Small Faces. On the other hand ...Milk Round In The Morning has Pembroke at his most commercial on the whole of the album with the type of chorus one would expect at the end of a musical or as in this case, a concept album.
Tracklist: Tombstone Valentine (3:03), In Gratitude (3:44), Dance Of The Anthropoids (1:08), Frederick And Bill (4:24), Wishful Thinker (3:43), Autograph (2:36), 1936 Lost In The Snow (2:08), Let The World Ramble On (3:19), For America (4:21), Captain Supernatural (3:01), End (3:35)
Tracklist on American album version: ( Verve Forecast FTS 3089) Dance Of Anthropoids; Frederick & Bill (Song of the Skinhead); Wishful Thinker; For America; Autograph; In Gratitude; Let The World Ramble On; Tombstone Valentine; Captain Supernatural; 1936 Lost In The Snow; Happy Waste (End); Call Me On Your Telephone; I Like You; Bird Of Paradise; Wolf At The Door; The Gang Called The Vegetable Men (Answer To Life); Anna Sukko Vain; Mountain Range; Astronomical; Only Dreaming; Cherry Cup Cake; Semi-circle Solitude; End Of The Party (Apt. 51)
Musicians: Jukka Gustavson (vocal, organ, piano), Jim Pembroke (vocals), Pekka Pohjola (bass, violin),
Ronnie Österberg (drums)
Additional Musicians: Heikki Laurila (guitar, banjo), Jukka Tolonen (guitar), Kalevi Nyqvist (accordion)
Tracks 1, 5, 8, and 10 composed by Jim Pembroke. Tracks 2, 9 and 11 by Jukka Gustavson. Track 4 by Pekka
Pohjola/Jim Pembroke. Track 6 by Kim Fowley/Jim Pembroke. Track 7 by Pekka Pohjola.
Electronic music for Dance Of The Anthropoids by Erkki Kurenniemei
Produced by Kim Fowley
Recording by Erkki Hyvönen/Finnvox
The second album from the Wigwam repertoire was released in two distinctively different versions. The European release saw a single album released composed solely of new material while the American release consisted of a double album which also included tracks from Hard N' Horny as well as Blues Section material. One of the things to strike the listener when listening to the album, and running through the credits is the relative lack of material penned by Gustavson, who had contributed to half of the band's debut album. The reason for this was the fact that producer Kim Fowley was keen on the band exploiting the more commercial aspect of their music. As has oft been mentioned the more commercial of the band composers was Pembroke, and thus this resulted in his material being chosen in favour of the more complex material form the other members.
The album opens with the title track which also has the distinction as being one of the few English-sung Wigwam tracks to be translated into, and sung in, Finnish by Vesa-Matti Loiri. In itself the track possesses a folk feeling with the use of the accordion as well as the inclusion of the banjo during the solo section. On the other hand the grandiose feeling that Wigwam music possesses is retained with the full use of keyboards especially with the feeling of a string section accompanying the chorus.
In Gratitude! has a soul feeling to it, both in terms of the rhythm as well as the bass line that runs throughout the whole of the track. In fact it could well pass as a track from one of the many R&B influenced bands that were around in those times. However, on closer inspection one notes the occasional shifts in key that prevent the track from becoming overtly commercial and give it that trademark Wigwam stamp.
Erkki Kurenniemi is considered one of the pioneers of Finnish electronic music and one of his more well known experimental compositions is Dance Of The Antropoids, of which an excerpt was used on this Wigwam album. Frederick & Bill is one of the stand out tracks on the album with its jazz touch comnfined within the regimen of a "pop' tune. In fact it is no wonder that the main contributor to the track was Pekka Pohjola. Of further note is the free utilisation of the guitar on this track, not a characteristic sound on early Wigwam material who tended to have the organ dominate musical proceedings.
Wishful Thinker brings us back to the more soulful Pembroke nature of composing. At times the music almost verges on the Procol Harum, themselves a group heavily influenced by R&B music. Autograph sees producer Kim Fowley credited, though rumours from within the band suggest that his contribution was rather minimal and most of the track was a Pembroke composition. Once again there is a slight folk feeling introduced within the music, this time courtesy of Pohjola's violin licks with Keikki Laurila's banjo playing along.
The instrumental 1936 Lost In the Snow is ample proof of how Pekka Pohjola was able to broaden the musical spectrum of the band. The dominant instrument is the violin which plays along in a lament fashion while the rest of the band create somewhat of a slow back beat though this does tend to pick up as the track progresses. The short duration of the track is perfect as it does not overstay its presence but acts as the perfect breaker between the R&B drenched material that is manifest throughout the whole of the album. The fade out of the track also suggests that the original material was actually a longer piece of music. A perfect example of the soulful music on the album would be Let The World Ramble On. The tempo is decisively slow with once again Tolonen's guitar playing helping out the proceedings in creating the right atmosphere.
For America, as its name implies has a very American feel to it with the jazzy piano introduction. The track in itself has a very free feeling to it and acts as the perfect showcase to Gustavson's free flowing piano playing, something which does not really shine through on most of the album. Captain Supernatural, on the other hand, as befits a Pembroke composition, is one of the most commercial of the tracks on the album with his vocals a close rival to Gary Brooker (Procol Harum).
End, as its name implies is a the perfect closer to this album. Another Gustavson composition, it shows the complexity of this man's musical mind. Opening with a solo on the Hammond organ, this track shows the dangerous musical balance Wigwam thrived on. On one hand there were the strong blues principles that show up regularly, especially on this early album, whilst on the other hand there was the more experimental nature of musicians such as Gustavson and Pohjola that wanted to take the band to another dimension. Though not a classic album, Tombstone Valentine is the first Wigwam album that seems to show the band members getting to grips with each ones individual musical desires.
Nowadays the first two Wigwam albums can be purchased as one on a single CD release from Love Records.
Musicians: Ronnie Österberg (drums, congas, percussion, backing vocals on Fairyport), Jukka
Gustavson (vocals, piano, organ, electric piano), Jim Pembroke (vocals, harmonica, piano on Lost Without A
Trace and Every Fold), Pekka Pohjola (bass, violins; ac. guitar on One More Try; piano on
Hot Mice; piano, celeste, harpsichord on P.K:s Supermarket; backing voacls on Fairyport)
Additional Musicians: Jukka Tolonen (guitar on Lost Without A Trace, How To Make It Big In Hospital and Rave-Up For The Roadies), Ilmari Varila (oboe), Tapio Louhensalo (bassoon), Mannu Saxelin (clarinet), Rista Pensola (clarinet), Unto Haapa-aho (bass clarinet), Eero Loivistoinen (spo. sax), Pekka Pöyry (sop. sax)
Tracks 3, 4, and 6 composed by Jukka Gustavson. Tracks 2, 5, 7, 11 and 12 by Jim Pembroke. Tracks 8 and 9 by Pekka Pohjola. Track 1 by Pojola/Gustavson/Pembroke. Tracks 13 by Tolonen/Gustavson/Pohjola/Österberg.
Produced by Wigwam
Recorded at Finnvox studios Helsinki and music Network, Sweden
Engineered by Erkki Hyvönen, Thomas KLarsson, Roger Wallis
The Jam (Rave-Up For The Roadies) recorded live at Hämis Club Helsinki by Seppo Kytöniemi and Reino Iso-aho
Cover art work by Jorma Auersalo; Photography by Peter Widén
The mark up in musical quality between the first two albums and Fairyport is impressive. Even the band seemed to be at a creative peak as they composed enough material for one and a half albums. Of more importance to us is that this could be considered to be the first truly progressive rock record that the band recorded. Those days albums, unlike todays albums, had to be of a certain length and the duration of the material they had recorded was only enough for three sides of a double album. Unwilling to compromise on the material they had recorded, the band opted to include a fourth side which was taken up by a live jam called Rave-Up For The Raodies rather than discard the third side of recorded material.
The album opens with Losing Hold, long considered a live Wigwam favourite, which has a great organ-led introduction. This, the longest studio track on the album is a masterpiece of progressive rock music. The fusion of the piano and organ creates a sound unique to this band as they romp through this track with the rhythm section creating a fantastic backing. The only lull in the romp comes with the inclusion of vocals, for a short period, that allows the whole track to take a breather, though this is not for long. Lost Without A Trace comes in as a perfect contrast to Losing Hold. The instruments are completely stripped down to Jukka Tolonen's acoustic guitar work accompanying Jim Pembroke on vocals and piano.
One of the features to really come to the fore on this album is the complex musical character of Jukka Gustavson. Before this album, his compositions, though complex were limited to just the band members and possibly one or two guest musicians. This time round help is enlisted in the form of a number of wind instruments who though uncharacteristic for a rock album, manage to carry out the desired effect to perfection. Add to that the continuous shifts in time signature and minor chord progressions, and one practically has described the title track, Fairyport. The jazz influence really permeates this particular track though one does also sense a rock n' roll element at times. The highlight of the track must be the entrance of the brass and woodwinds playing out the theme of the song midway through the track.
The shorter Gray Traitors maintains the uncommercial style of Gustavson compositions. However, one must admit that all Gustavson compositions have an unexpected twist in them. Just as the track seems to be winding up into another quirky tune, it takes off, picking up in tempo, progressing into a great instrumental section and merging with Caffkaff, The Country Psychologist. Possibly the most unconventional track on the album, the chord sequences are totally uncharacteristic, in true Gustavson fashion, with Pembroke's mournful vocals accompanying the piano. Suddenly the track seems to break down with the electric piano indulged in some jazzy runs while Ronnie Österberg makes full use of his congas and percussion. The last of Gustavson penned tracks on the album is May Your Will Be Done Dear Lord. One of the masterpieces on this album, the track manages to show Gustavson in a different light. Here he manages to combine his complex nature with a relatively more straight forward and accessible feel. However he cannot resist including sudden twists, and at the first chance, in come the woodwinds and brass instruments to take over the reins of the track albeit for a short while.
With How To Make It Big In Hospital one sees the return to the Pembroke penned tracks. One immediately senses the simplification of the presentation as well as the accessibility of the music. Pekka Pohjola's could be best described as standing somewhere between those of Gustavson and Pembroke. With a predilection for instrumental tracks, his music is strong in the jazz approach yet at the same time manages to retain a certain amount of ear friendly characteristics. Both Hot Mice and P.K:S Supermarket are instrumentals with the latter having an Eastern European touch to it both in terms of beat as well as style. In fact another characteristic of Pohjola is his predilection in introducing a certain amount of traditional themes into his music. The inability to conceive lyrics led Pohjola to collaborate with Jim Pembroke on those tracks he felt required them. Such is the case with One More Try which has the Pohjola touch written all over it with its clever shifts in time signature pausing only for the occasional vocal interlude.
Rockin' Ol' Galway is the typical Pembroke composition. Direct, concise and more importantly extremely pleasing to the ear with catchy hooks yet at the same time retaining just the right amount of zaniness to make it stand out from any other run of the mill "pop" composition. Every Fold, with Pembroke playing the piano is one of the most moving tracks in the Wigwam repertoire.
As mentioned before, the final track on the album is a seventeen minute plus jam that was recorded live just for the sake of filling up the final side on the record. Called Rave Up For The Roadies, the track also features Jukka Tolonen on guitar, who by then was almost a regular member for Wigwam live performances. The track also allows an insight into what a Wigwam concert must have been like. Unlike their carefully calculated and structured studio material, the Wigwam live performances were very free and improvisational. One could consider them as the Grateful Dead of progressive rock as they would merge tracks and play on for lengthy periods of time. Suffice to say that this particular track was an improvised jam session. Another interesting note is the fact that Pembroke is not listed on the credits, a sign that he had not yet started to play the organ/electric piano onstage, which also meant that he spent a large part of the Wigwam concerts waiting in the wings!
Musicians: Ronnie Österberg (drums), Jukka Gustavson (vocals, piano, organ), Jim Pembroke (vocals, harmonica, piano), Pekka Pohjola (bass, violins), Mats Huldén (bass Tracks 5-7), Jukka Tolonen (guitar), Nikke Nikamo (guitar Tracks 5-7)
All tracks were composed by Jim Pembroke except Track 4 (Jukka Gustavson), Track 10 (Pohjola, Gustavson-Pembroke)
Compiled by Ronnie Österberg
Produced by Wigwam, Kim Fowley (Tracks 1, 2, 9)
Recorded at Finnvox Studios, Helsinki and Music Network, Vaxholm, Sweden
Engineered by Erkki Hyvönen, Thomas Larsson and Roger Wallis
Photography by Olli Perttula
The first Wigwam compilation to be released by Love Records, and only available on vinyl. It culls tracks from the band's first three albums with the focus being placed on the more commercial tracks on the albums. In fact eight of the ten tracks on the compilation are Pembroke compositions, another detail in Wigwam history which proves the pint that the main "commercial" factor within the band was indeed Pembroke with Gustavson, and to a lesser extent Pohjola, composing material that was deemed too complex for mass commercial appeal.
Musicians: Pekka Pohjola (bass, violin, piano (Pride Of The Biosphere), mini-moog
(Planetist)), Jukka Gustavson (vocals, piano, organ, mini-moog and VCS3 synthesizers), Ronnie Österberg
(drums, percussion, backing vocals (Sunny Disaster), Jim Pembroke (vocals, sermon, piano (Sunny
Disaster and Friend From The Fields)
Additional Musicians: Pekka Pöyry (sop. sax, flute), Pentti Lsanen (clarinet, flute), Paavo Honkanen (clarinet), Imari Varila and Aale Lindgren (oboes), Juhani Tapaninen (bassoon), Unto Haapa-aho (bass clarinet), Juhani Aaaltonen (solo flute), Seppo Paakkunainen, Erik Dannholm, Pentti Lahti, Kai Vesterä (flutes), Taisto Weslin (acoustic guitar), Erkki Kurenniemi, Jukka Ruohämaki (VCS 3 assistance)
Tracks 1, 2, 5, 6 and 9 composed by Jukka Gustavson. Tracks 3, 8 and 10 by Jim Pembroke. Track 7 by Pekka Pohjola. Track 4 by Pohjola/Gustavson.
Recorded at Finnvox and Finnlevy studios, Helsinki, Finland through November 1973.
Produced by Måns Grondstroem and Paul Jyrälä
Engineers: Erkki Hyvönen, Harry Gergman, Måns Grondstroem and Paul Jyrälä
Cover Art: Jukka Gustavson (directions), Jorma Auersalo (design)
Being is the last studio album of the first phase of Wigwam history. It is also the last studio album that featured Jukka Gustavson as a permanent member within the line-up. Moreover the album is considered as the most creative album that emerged from this line-up with the album developed as a concept and most of the creative work being the fruit of Jukka Gustavson's labours. One of the main reasons for this is that both Jim Pembroke and Pekka Pohjola were more interested in their solo album releases than in the more collective band release. The concept of the album features both a religious and a political theme, a concept that Gustavsn was also developing and had used in his contributions to Fairyport. The album went on to win the "Album of the year" award both in the reader's and in the critic's poll of the Finnish rock magazine "Soundi" and gathered rave reviews in the English music press as well. The interest that ensued would result in the band being given a recording deal with Virgin Records in the U.K.
From the opening track Proletarian, one can sense that this album would be remarkably different from most of what the band had already produced till now. The organ and piano sound was augmented by the sound of synthesizers, something which Gustavson had been experimenting with in the interim period between albums. The opening track shows a complete lack of the commercial streak that most Wigwam material seems to possess and instead verges on the RIO in style. This merges with the playful clownesque rhythm of Inspired Machine whose message has a deep political slant.
Petty-Bourgeois is one of the more complex Wigwam tunes though its catchy pop hook immediately give away Pembroke as being the composer of the track. However, this once again showcases the remarkable nature of this band who with something so zany, which in most bands would sound banal, is instead turned into a great track. The coupling of tracks is maintained with Petty-Bourgeois moving into Pride Of The Biosphere. The track has an almost pulpit-like touch with Pembroke's narration alongside some booming organ playing. The return of Gustavson in penning the lyrics also sees a return to the pessimistic tones.
With Pedagogue, Wigwam created what is possibly their most complex track to date. Awkward chords, abrupt time changes and strange vocal applications abound as does Gustavson's ability to create that ensemble effect by using wind and brass instruments instead of string instruments. A special mention should be made to the flute and clarinet solos that are simply stunning on this piece of music. Crisader retains that marked jazz influence, but much more of an easy listen relying on Gustavson's organ solo and doing away with the complexity of the brass and wind instruments. However, the vocals still sound in complete contrast to the structuring that Pembroke usually adopts on his tracks.
When a track only has Pekka Pohjola credited, one expects an instrumental track and that particular track on this album is Planetist. Furthermore one expects a strong influx of jazz ideas in Pohjola's music, yet even this time when placed alongside Gustavson's compositions, they pale in comparison in terms of complexity. Instead Planetist sounds almost commercial though it should not be underestimated as an individual track especially with the incorporation into the framework, once again, of wind and brass instruments, which bolster the already tight and string rhythm of Wigwam. Thus alongside a Pohjola composition, a balance could only be achieved by the introduction of a Pembroke number, Maestro Mercy, which with its laid back sound allows the listener to come to his senses following the pounding and complexity of all of the previous tracks.
The final couplet of tracks, Prophet and Marvelry Skimmer, bring this marvellous album to a close. Prophet is as quirky as the album goes, being a Gustavson penned track while Marvelry Skimmer allows the album to closed off of a rather more optimistic note. The track itself, being a Pembroke composition, allows the listener to sit back and literally enjoy the harmonies unweave without the complexity of the music being too much of a concern!
This would be the last studio album from the first phase of Wigwam's history and is indeed a fitting album with which the Gustavson/Pohjola chapter could be closed. Definitely the most complex and demanding album that the band have in their repertoire, it also gives an insight into the complicated mind of Jukka Gustavson whose music also reflects the pessimistic political and religious themes that seem to dominate his music.
Musicians: Ronnie Österberg (drums), Jukka Gustavson (vocals, organ), Jim Pembroke (vocals, electric piano), Pekka Pohjola (bass), Pekka Rechardt (guitar)
Track 1 composed by Jamie Robbie Robertson. Track 2 by Lennon/McCartney, Tracks 3 and 4 by Pekka Rechardt, Track 5 by Pekka Pohjola, Tracks 6 by John lennon, Track 7 by Sonny Boy Williamson and Willie Dickson, Track 8 by Jim Pembroke
Recorded at N-Club, Aluibi and Tavastia Club, June 1974
Engineers: Tommi Liuhala and Mäns Groundstroem
Production: Tommi Liuhala and Wigwam
Album Design: Jukka Gustavson and Mats Hulden; Photography: Reijo Porkka
One could easily state that this double live album was conceived due to contractual obligations. Its also marks the end of the first Wigwam era and the album highlights most of the musical problems that had beset this band resulting in its implosion when it was at its seemingly creative peak. The recordings where undertaken on the last dates that Wigwam were understood to have played, at least for then! The decision by Gustavson and subsequently Pohjola to leave the band had been taken months before the concerts and the band felt that they owed it to their faithful audience to undertake one last tour whioch could also be recorded and released as a live album.
Even by just looking at the album track list one easily notices that there is absolutely no Wigwam material present in the set list as well as no Gustavson material present. The reasons for a lack of Gustavson material are twofold. First of all the material was often deemed too complex by the band members to attempt on stage and secondly Gustavson was too self critical and would not allow any of his material be played live unless it was a faithful rendition of how it was originally conceived in the studio, something which was practically impossible to achieve. Furthermore, Wigwam material is also missing on the final product, though some Wigwam tracks were actually performed during the tour. >The first side of the album is dominated by The Moon Struck One, a cover of the track that appeared on The Band's Cahoots 1971 album. Of particular note is the fact that the original track runs at only 4 minutes twenty seconds and the fact that it runs in at over seventeen minutes is in itself an explanation as to what most of Wigwam in concert were like. The majority of this track is taken up by lengthy solos including guitar solos, almost unheard of on studio albums, courtesy of new recruit Pekka Rechardt. Many a time, Wigwam have been considered as The Grateful Dead of progressive rock as they were able to jam on for an endless amount of time, irrespective of the original duration of the track.
Apart from The Band, another perennial favourite amongst Wigwam live tracks would be cover versions of The Beatles. Let It Be would be played alongside Gustavson's organ playing allowing him to develop the track into a creative solo and for this concert, the band decided to resurrect this track which had become a permanent fixture in the band's repertoire. Following two cover versions, the band then play two new songs, both of which are Pekka Rechardt compositions. The two tracks are almost opposites in both style and tempo though both are instrumentals, possibly due to the fact that Rechardt had only been in the band for six months and had not yet developed the lyrical aspect of his songwriting skills. Groundswell is much more of a slow number while Pig Storm is a heavier rocking number making full use of the now permanently acquired guitar sound within the group. One notes the importance given to the bass guitar on Groundswell, a theme that possibly Rechardt actually composed envisaging the violoncello, an instrument he was accomplished on yet which he never got to utilise within Wigwam.
Pekka Phojola's songwriting abilities are demonstrated on Nipistys, a track culled from his solo album Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva. As always there is a strong jazz-rock factor that permeates throughout Pohjola's works which are almost always instrumental in nature though this version is augmented into a larger arrangement than it was originally recorded. Another musician to be of great influence and whose music would often appear in Wigwam concerts was John Lennon and the band play a very faithful rendition of his Imagine with the piano substituted by the sound of the organ with Jukka Gustavson sounding very much like Stevie Wonder!
The recording of Help Me/Checkin' Up On My Baby is actually the last encore that the band played on their final gig and was possibly played as a token of appreciation to the original musical influences that the band had. One must not forget that the origins of Wigwam in fact lay within a Rhythm & Blues band, Blues Section. However, the final number on the album is a Jim Pembroke solo number, Grass for Blades, that had appeared on his Wicked Ivory album yet was instantly adopted by Wigwam and played regularly as an encore track. The track in itself allowed all the positive points that Wigwam possessed to come to the fore. On this track Pembroke could demonstrate his vocal capabilities within a more commercial ambience whilst at the same time the track allowed the other band members space in which they could; demonstrate their individual capabilities as accomplished musicians. One of the saddest aspects of Wigwam is that they were never able to translate their studio magic onto the stage. So late into their career they still relied on playing cover versions and material from solo albums rather than material from their excellent studio albums. This is a pity and in fact their is little or no recorded documentation of their material played live except from excerpts appearing on the Fresh Garbage - Rarities 1969-1977 album.
Bonus Tracks: Do Or Die (5:40), Simple Human Kindness (4:08), Freddie Are You Ready (5:47), Bless your Lucky Stars (6:11)
Bonus tracks recorded live by YLE/Radio 2 at Töölönrannan kesäteatterei, Helsinki 18th June 1975
Musicians: Jim Pembroke (vocals, electric and grand piano), Pekka Rechardt (guitar), Mäns Groundstroem (bass), Paavo Maijanen (backing vocals) Ronnie Österberg (drums, marimba), Esa Kotilainen (keyboards tracks 1-8), Pedro Hietanen (keyboards (tracks 9-12),
Tracks 1, 4, 6 and 10 composed by Jim Pembroke, Track 8 by Pekka Rechardt, Tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 12 by Rechardt/Pembroke.
Recorded at Marcus Music, Stockholm 1975.
Produced by Paavo Maijanen
The second era of Wigwam history saw the band receiving some of the recognition that they deserved from major labels and this was the first album that they released with Virgin records. The loss of Jukka Gustavson and Pekka Pohjola allowed Jim Pembroke to grab a firm hold over the band reins with the music on this album being considerably different from much of their previous work, most notably their previous studio album, Being.
The title track, Nuclear Nightclub immediately laid the foundations for the "new" Wigwam sound which would be rather more direct and accessible to the first time listener. However one can also pick out various influences to Jim Pembroke ranging from blues to psychedelia, an effect evoked by Rechardt's airy Gilmour-like guitar work. Freddie Are You Ready, the first single released from the album features some lush harmonies accompanying an extremely upbeat and ear-friendly piece of music. Never before had Wigwam sounded so commercial!
However, with Bless Your Lucky Stars the band showed that they still could manage to create with a degree of excellence tracks that featured an amount of creativity. This particular track features distorted vocals alongside some nifty electronic work, proving that the face of rock music was indeed changing by now with synthesizers taking prominent role. At times there are touches of Alan Parsons Project whilst at others one can sense hints of early Genesis. Nevertheless, for progressive rock lovers, this track is surely one of the highlights of the album. Kite on the other hand is a more traditional Pembroke tune with less experimentalisation involved in it. One of the striking features of this track, apart form the dreamy guitar solo, is the full utilisation of the keyboards merely as an atmospheric backdrop, something that would have been unheard of with Gustavson in the band.
Do Or Die has the band returning to their progressive rock style, though Pembroke manages to show his uncanny ability in making a complex piece of music still sound commercial, something which it definitely is not! Once again one must note Rechardt's guitar playing which really added a new dimension to the Wigwam sound in the studio playing out some fantastic duets with Kotilainen's keyboard work. Seeing that Simple Human Kindness is a sole Pembroke composition, one can immediately deduce that it falls within the commercial aspect of Wigwam, though it is one of his more entertaining tracks with some swift changes in structure and time signature.
Save My Money & Name is slightly uncharacteristic sounding for Wigwam with a strong bluesy feeling to it though on the instrumental Pigstorm the band seem to really get things going once again albeit in more of a rockier vein. This track had also appeared in a live version on the band's previous outing, Live In The Twilight Zone.
The remastered version of this album comes with four bonus live tracks which appeared in studio version on this particular album. Thankfully, unlike on many remastered CD bonus tracks, the sound quality is excellent and Wigwam show that they could really deliver the goods when playing live.
As an album, Nuclear Nightclub is a worthy introduction to the band for those listeners who like a band to grow on them. On the other hand, the material is rather more diluted and lacks the technical qualities that the Wigwam Mark I lineup offered on its studio albums.
Musicians: Jim Pembroke (vocals, piano), Pekka Rechardt (guitar), Ronnie Österberg (drums,
percussion), Hessu Hietanen (keyboards), Masse Groundstroem (bass)
Background vocals on tracks 2, 7 and 8 by Paavo Maijanen
Tracks 1, 2 and 7 composed by Jim Pembroke, Tracks 4-6 and 9 by Pekka Rechardt, Track 3 by
Groundstroem/Hietanen/Österberg/Pembroke/Rechardt, Track 8 by Rechardt/Pembroke
All lyrics by Pembroke except Track 8, by Rechardt/Pembroke
Recorded at the Manor, January 1976
Producer: Ronnie Leahy; Engineer: John Eden
Cover by Mats Huldén
Many people expected the follow up to the more commercial Nuclear Nightclub to be the album that would catapult Wigwam onto the international scene. Unfortunately, though still an excellent album, Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose failed to meet the desired targets, being dismissed by many of the musical critics. Having said that, the album has withstood the test of time well and still sounds as fresh as it did twenty five years ago.
As always, the more commercial tracks on the album are those penned by Jim Pembroke and the album starts off with two of his tracks, Sane Again and International Disaster. Furthermore the music is less complex than much of what the band had previously released with a strong soul current flowing beneath these tracks, especially on the opener Sane Again. International Disaster, on the other hand is a relatively more upbeat track with a strong feel good factor. The short Timedance is the only group collaboration on the album and somehow seems to be an excerpt of what was originally a longer track. As can be expected, the fact that it is a group collaboration probably means that it is a sort of jam session that had been recorded and part of which was utilised for the album. On the other hand Colossus , a Rechardt track, combines a series of features that seem to sum up the music of Wigwam during this period. The track starts off at a relatively languid pace to then progress into an organ rich piece of music. One could mention bands such as Greenslade and Colosseum as a comparison, however one must also admit that such a style was prevalent throughout those progressive rock bands who preserved a deep admiration for the rhythm and blues.
Eddie And The Boys could be considered the album highlight, if one had to look at the album from a commercial angle. This track is one of the brighter moments on what is a rather disappointing album and possibly what is more surprising is that this time round, the more pop aspect of the album did not come from the pen of Pembroke but rather from Rechardt. However, with Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose, Rechardt showed that his compositions apart from possessing a rockier edge also had their fair share of complex arrangements especially during the short abstract guitar solo.
June May Be Too Late is a typical Pembroke track that features a strong dose of soul influences, though after repeated listens there is a sense of certain rhythms and backbeats that resemble in no small way any of the riffs one would find on compositions by disco artists such as the Bee Gees. Admittedly this musical genre was garnering popularity during the years when this album was composed.
As in Nuclear Nightclub, it seems that the best tracks are the fruit of collaboration between Pembroke and Rechardt, something which unfortunately only happens on Never Turn You In on this particular album. However both this track and In A Nutshell seem to lack that killer punch that was so necessary on this album to enable the band to break it beyond the shores of Finland. Describing Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose as a mediocre album, could be a tad bit too harsh. On the other hand one cannot but feel that the band just did not live up to expectations when they really had to deliver.
Bonus Tracks: Grass For Blades (9:13), Daemon Duncetan's Request (aka Turn Stone To Bread)(5:01)
Musicians: Jim Pembroke (vocals, piano), Pekka Rechardt (guitar), Mäns Groundstroem (bass), Ronnie Österberg
Additional Musicians: Hessu Hietanen (keyboards Tracks 2, 5, 6, 7), Jukka Gustavson (organs Tracks 1, 4), Paavo Maijanen (backing vocals Tracks 1, 2, 4, 8), Timo Kojo (backing vocals Track 1)
All tracks were composed by Jim Pembroke except for Tracks 2, 6, 7 by Rechardt/Pembroke, Track 3 by Rechardt/Huldén and Track 4 by Pembroke/Gerard Manley Hopkins
Recorded at Finnlevy and Love Studios Winter-Summer 1977
Produced by Wigwam
Engineered at Finnlevy by Mick Glossop and at Love Studios by Wigwam
Remixed at Love Studio
Cover by Timo Kelaranta/SAFTRA
The final album that Wigwam recorded at the end of their long association with Love Records was to be the Dark Album, an album that was involved in a series of upheavals for the band ending in their ultimate demise. The original title for the album as meant to be Daemon Duncans' Request, yet executives at Virgin Records on hearing the finished product refused to release it on the grounds that it was too "low-key and non-commercial". One must realise that the period of 1977 was when punk music was at its zenith and most major labels, including Virgin, were more willing to back a punk band rather than a classic/progressive rock band. Thus Wigwam were sent back to the studio and the album, re-titled as Dark Album, was released in late 1977. By this time the band had already split up for a second time. Surprisingly, considering the circumstances, the album is a strong one and definitely more cohesive than their previous outing, Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose.
From the opening track, Oh Marlene!, one can immediately sense that the album would feature less of the complex arrangements that the band would normally have included in their repertoire and instead what one does get on the album is more of a watered down Wigwam. The pressure of Virgin Records on the band to come up with more commercial material seems to have had an effect on the band's creative output, something which is also visible when one looks at the songwriting credits where Jim Pembroke, the band's more commercial songwriter has a hand in all bar one of the album tracks.
Notwithstanding the pressure, the band still managed to come up with a piece of work that in my opinion surpasses Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose in terms of quality. Cheap Evening Return has an incredibly moving chorus and is considered as one of the album's masterpieces though the most popular number was The Silver Jubilee which saw the return of Jukka Gustavson, albeit as a guest musician, to the Wigwam fold.
Once again the guitar work of Pekka Rechardt stands out on various tracks. The almost hard rock riff of The Item Is The Totem is a sure sign that the times in the musical world were changing, a factor that also appears on The Vegetable Rumble that features a riff comparable to Thin Lizzy. While tracks such as Horace's Aborted Rip-Off Scheme showed that Pembroke had lost none of his English humour that he translated so ably into music, somehow though, the band must have felt that the end was nigh for Wigwam. On no other album is there such a large number of slow heavy paced tracks. The Big Farewell, sounds as if the band were singing their own demise while the album closer Helsinki Nights, another uncharacteristic Wigwam track, has the band bidding a definite farewell to their faithful. On the whole the Wigwam on Dark Album are a very different band that appeared on any of their previous albums. Something had changed within the members, especially Pembroke and Rechardt, that affected their musical approach. The end of progressive rock as a popular format seems to have hit the band hard without allowing them chance to recover. That coupled with the rejection by Virgin Records and the bankruptcy of Love Records laid the ground for the band splitting up. The CD version of the album also includes two bonus tracks one of which, Grass For Blades originally was on Jim Pembroke's Wicked Ivory album,and the original title track Daemon Duncetan's Request.
Tracklist: Freddie Are You Ready, International Disaster, Nuclear Nightclub, Eddie And The Boys, June May Be Too Late, Wardance, Tramdriver, Colossus, Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose, Never Turn You In, Bertha Come Back, Cheap Evening Return, A Better Hold (And A Little View), The Big Farewell, Goddammaddog (The Horse), Helsinki Nights, Horace's Aborted Rip-Off Scheme, All Over Too Soon, Masquerade At The White Palace, The Item Is The Totem, Daemon Duncetan's Request
Musicians: Jim Pembroke (vocals, piano), Pekka Rechardt (guitars), Måns Groundstroem (bass except Tracks 11, 13, 15, 18, 19), Ronnie Österberg (drums, marimba)
Additional Musicians: Hessu Hietanen (keyboards Tracks 2, 4-10, 12, 14, 17, 21, accordion Tracks 15, 21), Esa Kotilainen (keyboards Tracks 1, 3), Paavo Maijanen (bass Tracks 11, 13, 15, 18, 19, backing vocals), Costa Apetrea (guitars Tracks 11, 13, 15, 18, 19) Eero Koivistoinen (sax & horn arrangements Track 19)
Re-mastering and re-cutting by Chris Blake (at The Townhouse and Utopia Studios, June 1979)
Cover illustration by Mats Huldén
Compilation & agony by Angus MacKinnon
Co-ordination & ecstasy by Al Clark
Though Virgin Records deemed it fit to terminate Wigwam's contract following the issue of Dark Album, they still felt that the band was worth the production of a compilation album. This double album was released with tracks included from the three albums recorded with Virgin, Nuclear Nightclub, Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose and Dark Album as well as singles such as Tramdriver and unreleased B-sides such as Wardance. Furthermore there are three tracks included that are actually from Jim Pembroke's solo album Corporal Cauliflowers Mental Function.
Tracklist: 633 Jesu Fåglar (0:07), Pidän Sinusta (5:38), En Aio Paeta (3:01), Neron Muistolle; Hyvää Yötä (3:08), No Pens, Ei Karsinoita (4:51), Henry's Highway Code (2:53), Freddie Are You Ready (5:34), Kite (4:14), Wardance (3:42), Helsinki Nights (4:02), Tombstone Valentine (3:03), Frederick & Bill (4:24), 1936 Lost In The Snow (2:08), Let It Be (7:49), Help Me/Checkin' Up On My Baby (7:58), The Moonstruck One (17:20), Imagine (3:32), Luulosairas (4:07)
Castle Records are a record company known for their release of "unofficial" and strangely gathered compilations which usually present a set of tracks from a band that are not exactly the most popular of tracks that the band has within its repertoire. In this case the majority of tracks are taken from three albums, namely Hard N' Horny, Tombstone Valentine and Live Music From The Twilight Zone, hardly albums indicative of a great Wigwam compilation! Also included was the B-side Wardance as well as their single Luulosairas.
All tracks composed by Rechardt/Pembroke except for Tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12 13 by Pembroke and Track 2 by Huldén/Pembroke)
Musicians: Måns Groundstroem (bass), Jan Noponen (drums), Mikko Rintanen (organ, keyboards), Pekka
Rechardt (electric guitar), Jim Pembroke (vocals, piano)
Additional musicians: Heikki Keskinen, saxophone - Mikko-Ville Luolajan-Mikkola, violin - Maarit Hurmerinta, backing vocals - Heikki "Pedro" Hietanen, accordion - Stiina Tarvonen, backing vocals - T T Oksala, F#
Produced by Wigwam and T.T. Oksala
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Finnvox Studios, Helsinki (FIN)
Album design and collages by Space Riipinen Fortunately this particular Wigwam album is very hard to come by because the original label it was issued on (Polarvox) seems to have discontinued its production. I had the pleasure to hear it once and though a pleasant sounding album, it is a very different style of music to the original Wigwam. The music is very much in AOR style with very little to write home about. The sound of the recording is low on bass with a trebly quirky feeling to the music which makes the band, and resultant album sound quite amateurish. Admittedly it has been some time since I heard the album and thus cannot be absolutely certain on how this album would sound today!
Tracklist: Eddie And The Boys (4:01), Tramdriver (3:44), Freddie Are You Ready (3:59), Kite (4:13), Nuclear Nightclub (2:41), Autograph (2:36), Just My Situation (5:40), Cheap Evening Return (5:30), Frederick & Bill (4:23), Tombstone Valentine (3:04), Do or Die (5:03), June May Be Too late (3:38), Losing Hold (7:05), Lost Without A Trace (2:29), Henry's Highway Code (2:52), Silver Jubilee (3:07), Grass For Blades (3:54), Prophet (6:10), Marvelry Skimmer (Friend From The Fields ) (2:28)
Credits: All tracks written by Jim Pembroke except for Track 1 (Rekku Rechardt), Track 3, 8, 11 (Rechardt/Pembroke), Track 6 (Fowley/Pembroke), Track 9 (Pohjola/Pembroke), Track 13 (Pohjola/Gustavson/Pembroke), Track 16 (Pembroke/Hopkins), Track 18 (Gustavson)
Possibly the best introduction to Wigwam is this compilation album that features highlights from their albums on the Love Records label. Moreover this album also features a number of gems that are not available on any of the Wigwam albums, yet are considered an integral part of their repertoire.
The Wigwam tracks on the album are as follows
From Hard 'N' Horny (1969): Henry's Highway Code
From Tombstone Valentine (1970): Autograph, Frederick & Bill, Tombstone Valentine
From Fairyport (1971): Losing Hold, Lost Without A Trace
From Being (1973): Prophet, Marvelry Skimmer (Friend From The Fields)
From Nuclear Nightclub (1975): Freddie Are You Ready, Kite, Nuclear Nightclub, Do Or Die
From Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose (1976): Eddie And The Boys, June May Be Too Late
From Dark Album (1977): Cheap Evening Return, Silver Jubilee
Also included on this compilation are Tramdriver, a single only release from Wigwam in 1976 and two tracks from Jim Pembroke's solo repertoire: Grass For Blades from Wicked Ivory (1972) credited to Hot Thumbs O'Reilly and Just My Situation from Pigworm (1974)
However one must remark that the compilation is not entirely indicative of Wigwam's repertoire, especially the pieces related to the first phase of the band's history. If one had to look at the songwriting credits, one would immediately notice that they are mainly Pembroke compositions and thus only draw from the relatively commercial aspect of the band. Jukka Gustavson is only represented on 2 tracks (one of which is a collaboratio with Pohjola and Pembroke) and thus the more quirkier side of the band seems to be unfortunately omitted.
CD2: 1974-1977 Do The Pigworm (9:30), Just My Situation/Sweet Marie (9:17), A Better Hold (And A Little View) (3:52), Never Turn You In (6:46), No New Games (6:39), Tramdriver (3:48), Wardance (3:42), No New Games/Grass For Blades (18:15), In And Out (8:00), Looking For Eddie And The Boys (Jam session) (7:54)
Musicians: Mats Huldén (Bass CD1 Tracks 1-7),
Nikke Nikamo (Guitar CD1 Tracks 1-7)
Jim Pembroke (Vocals; Keyboards CD1 Tracks 1, 2, 5-15 CD2 Tracks 1-10)
Ronnie Österberg (Drums; CD1 Tracks 1-15, CD2 Tracks 1-10)
Jukka Gustavson (Keyboards; Vocals Tracks CD1 3-15 CD2 Tracks 1, 2, 8, 9)
Pekka Pohjola (Bass, Fiddle Cd1 Tracks 4, 8-15, Cd2 Tracks 1, 2)
Rekku Rehcardt (Guitar CD2 Tracks 1-7, 10)
Måsse Groundstroem (Bass CD2 3-10)
Hessu Hietanen (Keyboards CD2 Tracks 3-7)
Esa Kotilainen (CD2 Tracks 8-10)
Heikki Silvennoinen (Guitar CD2 Track 9)
All tracks composed by Pembroke except for: CD 1 Tracks 3, 15 (Gustavson), CD1 Track 5 (Huldén), CD1 Track 6, 8 (Robertson), CD1 Track 7 (Ferguson), CD1 Track 9 (Pohjola/Guustavson/Pembroke), CD1 Track 12 (Lennon), CD1 Track 13 (Pohjola), CD2 Track 4, 7 (Rechardt/Pembroke), CD 2 Track 9 (Ferguson), CD2 Track 10 (Rechardt)
CD1: Tracks 1-3 recorded at Finnvox studios, Helsinki March 1969
Tracks 4, 5 recorded at Finnvox studios, Helsinki March 1969
Tracks 6,7 recorded live by YLE at Kulttuuritalo, Helsinkin 27-2-1970
Tracks 8-11 recorded live by YLE at N-Club (Natsa), Helsinki for "Poppop" on 10-2-1971
Tracks 12-15 recorded live by YLE at the Liisankadun studio, Helsinki for "Pop-Studio" on 7-11-1973
CD2: Tracks 1,2 recorded live by YLE at N-Club (Natsa), Helsinki for "Poppop" on 3-6-1974 Tracks 3-5 recorded live by YLE at the Töölönrannan kesäteatteri, Helsinki 18-6-1975 Tracks 6,7 recorded November, 1975 Tracks 8-10 recorded live by Tapio Korjus at the Yippolistaio, Tampere 24-11-1977
Without any shadow of doubt this is the album that all serious musos of Wigwam have been waiting for in the barren years since their last outing. This double CD encompasses material recorded between 1969 and 1977 and includes a number of live tracks as well as single tracks that were previously unavailable on any album or CD.
In fact the first five tracks available on the album were only available as singles, issued in 1969/1970, and thus very difficult to trace. Must Be The Devil/Greasy Kid's Stuff was the very single that Wigwam released in 1969 with production by Hasse Walli, a member of Blues Section. One can also note that the inspiration for these tracks came about when Pembroke was still within the ranks of Blues section and the tracks themselves have a very bluesy feel though there is also that psychedelic air about them, so indicative of the times. Greasy kid's Stuff has a playful nature to it with many a reference to many of the garage bands that dominated the airwaves and of whom many were one hit wonders.
Luulosairas (Hypochondria) was the second A-side to be released by the band with Henry's Highway Code as a B-side. Since Henry's Highway Code was also included on the band's debut album, Hard N' Horny, it was not included on this compilation. The Gustavson touch becomes more apparent with the playful nature of the first two tracks shifting to a more serious style with the organ taking on a more prominent role within the musical setup. Much as the first tracks on the first single came from a pre-Wigwam era, so did this track as it formed part of the live repertoire of the band, Roosters, Gustavson's pre-Wigwam band. More importantly, this track is one of the first examples of Suomi-rock. The third single form Wigwam was Pedagogi/Häätö (Ejection) and was the last recording that the band would make with Finnish lyrics. Released in 1970, Pedagogi also features Pohjola playing the violin, before he had actually joined the band on a full-time basis.With this track one can see Gustavson's direction taking on an increasingly less commercial direction , moving more towards the Zappaesque. Few tracks within the Wigwam repertoire have a more unusual sound than Häätö. The track flits between Finnish and English lyrics fusing both the psychedelic and the acoustic with narration interspersed creating somewhat of an almost erotic touch! This track was the only Huldén contribution apart from 633 Jesu Fåglar from Hard N' Horny.
Yleisradio (YLE) is the name of the Finnish Broadcasting Company and is thanks to their recordings of Wigwam concerts that so much of Wigwam's live repertoire's still exist. The first set of live recordings come from 1970 and feature two cover versions. First up is Chest Fever, originally of The Band, one of the groups favourite all-time bands, followed by a Spirit cover, Fresh Garbage. Both tracks have Huldên and Kikamo in the line-up and so allow the listener to sample that band playing live with a guitar player, something they would lack for Nikamo's departure, The difference between the two tracks is also characterised by the disparity in styles between the original versions. The group much more at ease in their interpretation of Spirit who in themselves were music more inclined to the jazzier progressive style of rock, similar in many ways to what Wigwam were trying to promote.
The 1971 recordings see Pohjola joining the line-up and thus the sound of the band has been modified as they lose out on a guitarist to gain a bassist/fiddler. Once again we have a cover of a Band song, King Harvest (Has Surely Come), together with three originals. from the onset of King Harvest one can immediately note that the band have matured considerably and their sound has become tighter. With Losing Hold the band have firmly established their musical place amongst the great seventies bands who dominated rock music with their timeless keyboard solos such as ELP, Greenslade and Colosseum. The fact that they no longer had a fixed guitarist in their line-up only allowed the keyboards to come to the fore and create the sound that wigwam have always been associated with. Of particular interest on this set of recordings is the fact that the band are playing material from their own repertoire, something relatively rare for Wigwam. Amongst the recordings from this set are Nothing Shows, a track which has never cropped as a studio recording and Captain Supernatural. Nothing Shows has the trademark soul influence that appears on most Pembroke penned material while Captain Supernatural shows more of the early seventies influence drawn mainly from the David Bowie style of presenting music. The final tracks on CD1 are taken for a session recorded for a live broadcast show, "Pop-Studio", shortly before Rekku Rechardt joined the band and just prior to the official release of the Being album. First up is a cover version of Imagine by John Lennon, performed in a rather faithful manner when compared to the original and which was often played be the band during live performances. Next up are three compositions, each composed by the individual composers of the band. Nipistys is taken from Pekka Pohjola's solo album and is very indicative of what his music is about. This instrumental track starts off at a relatively placid pace but half way through the track the music picks up in rhythm as well as stylistically. Gustavson's playing really comes to the fore as does Österberg's playing which is often not given its due credit. Listening to his solid playing, one realises that he is a relatively undiscovered gem in progressive drummer territory being able to fill in complex rolls and rhythms and at the same time maintain a solid backbeat to the music that was very often overshadowed by the virtuosistic performances of the other musicians. Another mention regarding this track should be made about Pohjola's bass playing which flits between duetting with the keyboards in some delightful runs as well as various spots in which he solos.
Marvelry Skimmer (Friend From The Fields) was a track that would later appear on the Being album, and is one of the few Pembroke compositions to appear on that album. As can be expected from a Pembroke composition, the track is much more commercial than most of the tracks from this concert and is drenched in various Rhythm & Blues influences. Furthermore the instrumental sections are kept to a minimum with most of the track taken up by vocals, some of which feature great harmonies from Pembroke and Gustavson. The final track from this concert is the lengthy Fairyport. Whereas the original version had its share of brass and woodwind incorporated in it, this live version is a stripped down version of the track but nevertheless the group manage to overcome this hurdle and manage to play a blistering version. This is one of the rare events where the group played a Gustavson penned track during their concerts and hearing this track one can understand how difficult it was to play such complex tracks faithfully, especially when one considers the fact that Gustavson was a perfectionist who wanted faithful executions of his album tracks.
CD 2 starts with the end of the first phase in the history of Wigwam. The last album released with Gustavson in the line-up was the live album live From The Twilight Zone, which was recorded in June 1974. The first two tracks on the CD were also recorded during the same concert from which the recordings for the album were taken. These are two Pembroke tracks that originally appeared on his second solo album, Pigworm and which had become incorporated into the Wigwam repertoire. These are Do The Pigworm and Just My Situation/Sweet Marie. Do The Pigworm is a warm track that starts off with a delightful Hammond organ solo accompanied by a soulful backing. This lasts for the first half of the track that then has Pembroke joining in on vocals though this changes in a very small fashion the outcome of the music. On other hand Just My Situation/Sweet Marie is one of Pembroke's finer compositions and it is no wonder that it became a Wigwam live standard and was also included in it's studio format on the Highlights album. The track is presented as in the studio version with Just My Situation merging into Sweet Marie and once again has that late sixties soul, much like Joe Cocker loved to infuse into his music. Even the usually hyperactive organ of Jukka Gustavson is relegated to just a filler as Pembroke belts out his soulful vocals.
Thus the remainder of the tracks on this CD deal with the post-Gstavson era in Wigwam and the first set of recordings from a gig recorded during the sessions for the recordings of Nuclear Nightclub. The three tracks on this compilation do not hail from Nuclear nightclub, but the same tracks from the album that were played on that night were included in the remastered edition of the album. Thus we have here A Better Hold (And A Little View) which would not be released in studio format as a Wigwam track but rather on Pembroke's solo album two years later. Admittedly the version present here sounds much fuller and somehow complete than the studio version. Never Turn You In would eventually end up on Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose while No New Games To Play was also a Pembroke solo track, this time taken from the album Pigworm. Both tracks are, in true Pembroke style, rather commercial especially when compared to the earlier Wigwam tracks and the polished sound that the band were creating while playing live was a very good indication of how their future material would be. Unfortunately, this excellent version of No New Games is not complete, due to some technical error on YLE's part and so has a fade out at the end. The next two tracks consist of the single only release Tramdriver with its B-side, Wardance. the single was recorded in the UK as part of Virgin's drive to promote the band internationally, but unfortunately the single failed to chart. Admittedly this is one of the cruelties of the musical world, as one has to admit that this single is by far one of the best tracks composed by Jim Pembroke and is by far superior than most of the singles that made it into the charts at the same time as its release. Its has all the ingredients of a top single with a catchy chorus, mellow backing music without any overdone solos. Wardance was the B-side to the single issued by Love Records, as the Virgin release had Nuclear Nightclub on the B-Side. Wardance has a very mid-seventies feel to it with the recurrent off-beat almost giving the track a dance/funk feel. Though the track would be later used by the band during their reformation period in the nineties, it is a very uncharacteristic Wigwam track devoid of the original sound the band possessed.
Unfortunately this compilation fails to chronicle any live material from the Nuclear Nightclub/Lucky Golden stripes And Starpose days, the reason given being that there are no technically satisfactory recordings from this period available. Thus the story comes to a conclusion with a set of recordings from 1977 when the band played a two day concert that had Gustavson back in the fold as a temporary replacement together with Esa Kotilainen on keyboards. First up is a medley of No New Games and the solo Pembroke track Grass For Blades which could be considered a Wigwam track, as it was a staple feature of the band's live concerts. In And Out, a Wes Montgomery classic was one particular track that the band used to play often during the early stages of their career while the lengthy closing number is actually a jam session, aptly named looking For Eddie And The Boys by Rekku Rechardt.
As I mentioned earlier, this album is a gem of a compilation offering previously hard to find tracks as well as some interesting live renditions of Wigwam classics and is a definite must for anyone who considers himself a Wigwam fan.
Tracklist: CD1: Friend From The Fields (2:38), Absalom (9:22), Kite (4:22), Tramdriver (4:50),
Save My Money & Name (4:27), Colossus (7:57), Simple Human Kindness (4:07), Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose
(8:48), Do Or Die (12:19)
CD2: Nuclear Nightclub (2:57), Bless Your Lucky Stars (8:30), Bertha Come Back (3:20), No New Games (8:01), Freddie Are You Ready (5:50), Eddie And The Boys (6:59), The Vegetable Rumble (5:59) Grass For Blades (12:34)
All tracks composed by Rechardt/Pembroke except for tracks CD1: 1, 3, 4, 7, CD2: 1, 3, 4, 8 composed by Pembroke
Musicians: Måns "Måsse" Groundstroem (bass, backing vocals), Jari Kettunen (drums), Esa Kotilainen (keyboards), Pekka "Rekku" Rechardt (guitar), Jim Pembroke (vocals, keyboards)
Recorded by Tommy Eriksson at Tavastia Club, Helsinki, 18th April & 7th July 2001
Co-produced by Rekku & Måsse
Mixed & mastered by Hannu Leiden at Seawolf Studios, Helsinki
Photos by Vesa Heino, layout by Neogeo
A new live album from Wigwam recorded while on tour earlier this year (2001). Interestingly the lineup consisted of the three stalwarts of the second incarnation of the band, namely Jim Pembroke and Pekka Rechardt together with Måns "Måsse" Groundstroem. Also present were Esa Kotilainen, who had recorded with the band on Nuclear Nightclub and "new" member Jari Kettunen.
Once again the same old problem seems to crop up during the Wigwam live concerts. The material from the first phase of their history is often deemed too complex and is omitted from their repertoire with the brunt of material played culled from two albums. Nuclear Nightclub is played out in its entirety, with just Pigstorm omitted whilst on the other hand only Friend From The Fields, from Being, appears from the band's early years. (Friend From The Fields is also known as Marvelry Skimmer). Later albums such as Dark Album and Light Ages are also represented on this double album. Furthermore, two tracks from Jim Pembroke's solo career, Bertha Come Back and Grass For Blades. Unfortunately I do not possess the album to be able to conduct a review
Related WebsitesThere are various websites dedicated to Wigwam, many of whom are written in Finnish. Hoever the most informative site that I came across is the Nuclear Nightclub website which features extensive information about Wigwam and its individual band members both in Finnish and in English.
Should you have any further information pertaining to Wigwam that you feel should be added to this page, do not hesitate to contact me.