Get this crazy baby off my head!



Brainstorm - Second Smile - 1973 - Spiegelei

The second record by Brainstorm, from 1973, reveals even more variety to this German group's take on Canterbury jazz-rock. The album starts off with a spacy keyboard drone, dripping water noises, and gentle acoustic guitars, and just when you think you have the track, "Hirnwind," pegged as a mellow folk number, it becomes hyperactive progressive jazz-rock, with propulsive rhythms and lots of furious electric guitar, organ, flute, and sax, with some goofy wordless vocals thrown in. Other tracks also have that abrupt unpredictability, as Brainstorm's compositional prowess is even more developed, especially on the complex songs of "My Way" and "Marilyn Monroe," which feature a lot of changeups and different moods and tempos. They also do an ultra-funky arrangement of Leon Thomas' "There Was a Time," a standout on the disc. Though this record is energetic, it doesn't quite achieve the same manic overdrive of some of the material on their debut, Smile a While. Second Smile presents a more mature group, though one that is still a lot of fun, especially on the vampy "Marilyn Monroe" and wild "Hirnwind," the two songs that bookended the original album. The only weak cut is the bonus track, "You're the One." This single is a remake of "You Are What's Gonna Make It Last" from Smile a While, but tries to pump it up with a more conventional rock sound that is less interesting than the rest of the album. © Rolf Semprebon, All Music Guide

The great German progressive rock band, Brainstorm recorded some really good albums. "Second Smile" is firmly in the great Canterbury Rock tradition of bands like Soft Machine, Caravan, and Hatfield And The North. Though not as musically proficient, technically, as these bands, "Second Smile" is nonetheless a good example of 70's jazzy Krautrock. For music in a similar vein, listen to albums by Can, Egg, and Gong. Try and listen to Brainstorm's superb "Smile a While" release, from 1972. It's a brilliant example of early 70's progressive jazz rock. NB: The bonus CD track, "You're the One" is not included on this post.


A1 Hirnwind 5:43
A2 Herbst 3:40
A3 My Way 8:12

B1 Affenzahn 4:47
B2 There Was a Time... 7:09
B3 Marilyn Monroe 8:32


Rainer Bodensohn / flutes, bass (A3,B2)
Eddy Von Overheidt / organ, e-piano, clavinette, lead vocals (A3)
Enno Dernov / Fenderbass, guitar (B2)
Roland Schaeffer / soprano and tenor sax, clarinet, acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, double-bass (A2)
Jo Koinzer / drums, Transylvanian fold-up-conga


Influenced by both Frank Zappa and the Canterbury scene in England, the group Brainstorm emerged in the early '70s from Baden-Baden, in southwest Germany, with a fresh take on experimental progressive jazz-rock. Brainstorm's roots begin in 1968, when a trio of schoolmates with conservatory training, Roland Schaeffer (saxophones, vibraphone, guitar, bass, vocals), Eddy von Overheidt (organ, piano, vocals), and Jo Koinzer (drums and percussions), formed the band Fashion Pink with a couple other guys. They were originally a blues-rock group, with some Pink Floyd leanings, but were soon to branch out into the more complex styles of Frank Zappa, the Soft Machine, Caravan, and others. This group recorded tracks with the Sudwestfunk (SWF) radio station in several sessions from 1969 to 1971. By that time, Rainer Bodensohn (flute, bass) had joined the band. With growing audience interest and their proficient playing, by 1972 the group garnered a two-album contract with Spiegelei, a new label on Intercord to promote progressive Krautrock. At the record company's behest, the name was changed, first to Fashion Prick, and then when that too was even more emphatically rejected, Brainstorm. By the end of 1972, their first album, Smile a While came out, and though the cover, depicting the group in eye blush and women's underwear, was quite sensational for the times, the record languished in terms of sales. As with many bands, Brainstorm needed to find a regular bass guitarist, since up to this time Schaeffer and Bodensohn took turns on bass. This problem was remedied when Enno Dernov joined the group in time to record their second LP in the summer of 1973. Along with more original music, this album, Second Smile, also features the lyrics of the song "There Was a Time..." written by Pharoah Sanders, as Brainstorm had been soaking up influences from avant-garde jazz artists like Sanders and John Coltrane. Around this time, the band also recorded several pieces for a popular kids program on German television as well as other TV and radio shows. In April 1974, with drummer Koinzer replaced by Horst Mittmann, Brainstorm played live on SWF radio, and this was eventually released on CD as Last Smile. No more record deals were forthcoming, and, later that year, in succession Overheidt, Dernov, and Bodensohn all left the group. Without founding members Overheidt and Bodensohn, Brainstorm floundered, with other musicians coming and going for another year before disbanding. The only one who went on to more successful groups was Roland Schaeffer, who soon joined Guru Guru. © Rolf Semprebon, All Music Guide


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w aoofc

Anonymous said...

Many Thanks!! Had not heard this before, good stuff.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks for comment, Anonymous. the album's a good one. TTU soon