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Wigwam - Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose - 1976 - Love Records

"The Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose" is an obscure and underrated album from the 70's progressive jazz rock (for want of a better term) band Wigwam, from Finland. Some reviewers on Amazon have compared the sound of Wigwam in parts to bands like Greenslade, Procol Harum, The Band, Hatfield & The North, Camel, Colosseum, The Strawbs and Gentle Giant. These bands covered a lot of ground, and between them made some classic albums. "The Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose" is certainly not a classic album. But many of the sounds and rhythms are reminiscent of some of these bands, especially the Canterbury Rock bands, Hatfield & The North, and Soft Machine. The band's earlier albums, like "Hard 'n' Horny" and "Fairyport" are arguably more progressive albums. Some of Jim Pembroke's earlier music like his work with the Finnish band, Blues section has been classified as blues-jazz-pop fusion, and some of "Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose" could easily fall into that "genre". Add some soul blues jazz, a bit of Steely Dan, and Mike Patto and you are some way towards describing the band's sound. Listen to Wigwam's "Being" album, which is a great jazz rock album, and Wigwam's strongest album


Sane Again (Pembroke)
International Disaster (Pembroke)
Timedance (Groundstroem - Hietanen - Pembroke - Rechardt - Österberg)
Colossus (Rechardt - Pembroke)
Eddie And The Boys (Rechardt - Pembroke)
Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose (Rechardt - Pembroke)
June May Be Too Late (Pembroke)
Never Turn You In (Rechardt - Pembroke)
In A Nutshell (Pembroke - Rechardt)

All lyrics by Pembroke except "Never Turn You In" by Rechardt/Pembroke

N.B: Some releases of this album omit "Timedance"


Pekka Rechardt - guitar
Masse Groundstroem - bass
Jim Pembroke, vocals, piano
Hessu Hietanen - keyboards
Ronnie Österberg - drums, percussion
Paavo Maijanen - background vocals on "International Disaster", "June May Be Too Late", & "Never Turn You In"


Where do you go, if you're Wigwam circa 1976? Nuclear Nightclub has certainly been an artistic success, but unfortunately not a commercial breakthrough. Times are definitely changing and perhaps record companies are not as accommodating to progressive rock as they were only two or three years ago. The band’s under-the-radar and tragically under-rated response was The Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose. Sadly it would be the last Wigwam album released through Virgin Records. Change had always been a constant for Wigwam anyway. The early lineup featuring Nikke Nikamo and Mats Huldén had quickly given way to the era of Pekka Pohjola, and lengthy meditations by keyboardist Jukka Gustavson. After their departure, vocalist Jim Pembroke joined forces with guitarist Pekka Rechardt and the band’s music headed in a different direction. Pembroke’s penchant for sweetly lyrical, Beatle-esque songwriting paired well with Rechardt’s knack for spacey rock chords and blues-inflected soloing. Bassist and producer-in-general Måns Groundstroem had worked with Blues Section and Tasavallan Presidentti and, while his bass work was not as “busy” as Pohjola’s, he had deep, unique feel for the lower frequencies. Ronnie Österberg’s drums as always completed the foundation for Pembroke and Rechardt’s creations, and Hessu Hietanen’s keyboards helped tastefully color the new Wigwam soundscape with little or none of the solo excursions common during Gustavson’s tenure. Jim Pembroke, perhaps one of rock’s most ridiculously undervalued singer-songwriter-lyricists, turned in some of his finest efforts in service to TLGSAS. "Sane Again" abruptly establishes a more brooding presence than was the norm on Nuclear Nightclub: “Maggot race wild goose chase Doggod who to blame/Tapdance in the gutter, going down the drain/Money greed chicken-feed lose and call it gain/Grand to feel sane again.” Musically it is a moderately slow-paced bit, with a nice but brief instrumental section followed by a spoken-word collage, in Latin, prior to the last verse and wrap-up. As a contrast, "International Disaster" throws the listener an immediate curve. A happy little rock tune by compositional design, Pembroke warns of calamity at the height of selfish prosperity: “And they'll be flyin' in the Concorde and rollin' in the gutter/Calcutta and Singapore/Price of silver dropping so do yer Christmas shopping/Before you lose the chance the score.” With the band grooving and filling space together, "Timedance" provides a brief instrumental interlude and mood-setter for the exquisite "Colossus," which was as good as anything on NN, and fairly begs for Pohjola's adventurous bass playing. As it was recorded, Groundstroem and Hietanen painted a wonderful sonic background for Rechardt’s rich chord constructs. Lyrically Pembroke uses a quasi-historical context, perhaps as a tool to protest a more modern war: “Crusaders were returning from their journeys to the east/left the bamboo temples burning in the name of hope and peace/and it's welcome home Colossus good to see you're doing swell/wave the banner proclamation Quasimodo ring the bell!” A lonely guitar fade-in introduces the infectious "Eddie And The Boys." This should and could have been an FM album-radio staple at the time, had it been given sufficient exposure. It almost has an early Steely Dan feel, and Rechardt showcases some of his best soloing. The second side kicks off with the album's title cut, and like "Colossus" it was a multi-part tune. Pembroke sings several verses (more cool lyrics: "Closing down the social termination/The season's at it's end final grades/No more rugby tips or sailing sing-songs/Membership to life for history fades.") before Rechardt takes over, soaring and searing his way through an instrumental section punctuated by Groundstroem's rumbling, punching bass. With its faster pace and rhythmic muted guitar riffing, “June May Be Too Late” was another Pembroke showcase, an infectious cut, but apparently unfit for radio. It precedes “Never Turn You In,” one of the great lost rock songs, and an excellent piece in every respect. With unique European soul, Pembroke is on again: “Saint Peter heard the cockerels crows/Denied he knew and the tears cut rows/Upon his cheeks and fell down to the ground/Mothers cried and children wailed/As Jesus hung on the cross impaled/And the Heavens split and filled the world with sound/Pontius Pilate gave a sigh Washed his hands and let 'em dry/He would never turn you in.” Akin to “International Disaster“ as a brief tragic comedy, “In A Nutshell” closes out the album with more happy misery: “Me, my shell and our tree will grow/To the heights of the Himalow/Now that certain light fills my life, you know/I will never give away my Shell/that keeps me apart from Hell.” Pembroke was never more quote-worthy. For established diehards it is essential, but I’d stop short of characterizing this album as a proper introduction to the world of Wigwam. It is the yin to Nuclear Nightclub’s yang, a more desolate, paranoid and quirky affair. The Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose is not a perfect album, but it might actually have a better shelf life than its predecessor. © Member: Reginod, Date: 3/23/2005 © Copyright for this content resides with its creator. Licensed to Progressive Ears All Rights Reserved http://www.progressiveears.com/asp/reviews.asp?albumID=3106&bhcp=1

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. © Nigel Camilleri © 2003 DPRP http://www.dprp.net/forgotten/wigwam/index2.html#luckygoldenstripes

***** I must say I've never understood the lack of top ratings for this album. I also add that I believe I prefer this to Nuclear Night Club. From start to finish this is an excellent lp. The one thing I do find somewhat distressing is the mix of the new issue on Eclectic Compact Discs. Seems whoever did this one turned up the bass and drums in the mix and for me this spoils the effect. I tried several times and just can't get used to the thud this one has. I do like Jim Pembroke's liner notes and having met Jim in person (after all he lives in Kansas City) I do find talking to him really interesting to talk with. Wigwam is not my favorite band of all ( that honor would go to Free) but they are certainly close. © freeloverphil Posted 7:25:53 PM EST, 2/5/2010 © Prog Archives, All rights reserved http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=264439

INSURGENCY STARTS here. Wigwam are like a small guerrilla unit operating from their base some way outside a capital city in the grip of a totalitarian regime. Their attacks are devastatingly successful, directed exclusively at the machinery of propaganda. And this capital - it could be anywhere. The tanks, patrols, checkpoints and curfews are symbolic rather than actual. London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles... all the self-appointed centres of rock'n'roll, lifeless metres by which the medium is measured. All in the hands of an invisible dictatorship - the authoritarian rule of 'sophistication', style and fashion. Here today, gone tomorrow - the mind police of contemporary music making their dawn swoops, their nights of the long knives. Rock'n'roll is so nauseatingly centralised and bureaucratic it's no wonder it thrives on a contrived dynamic of inconsequentiality, of unwillingness to accept anything that doesn't in some way toe the party line. An expertly concealed domination - with oligarchies ruthlessly pacing rates of change (or no change at all). Any deviation is severely punished. Wigwam have had the good fortune and good sense to have escaped this takeover by reason of their being well away from any such 'centres of rock culture.' The band are Finnish, with the exception of Jim Pembroke, an English expatriate who's lived in Finland for 12 years or so. Thus situated they're able to review events along a clear horizon, at an unforced pace, cautiously selective about their enthusiasms. They could, if they chose, remain their own best inspiration and make their way without any outside interference. In fact Wigwam manage something of a best of both, but without compromise, neither succumbing to sycophantic imitation of archetypes nor becoming introverted in grand isolation. Although they haven't always been song-oriented as they are now. 'Lucky' is their eighth album, and the second from a lineup that only includes one original member, drummer Ronnie Osterberg. Time was that under the militant (Marxist) [sic] inspiration of Jukka Gustavson they recorded (rarely performed - the material was too complex) 'Fairyport' (1970) and 'Being' (1973), two sets of exemplary lateral thinking, achievements as advanced as anything the Softs or Zappa managed when at their best. (Albums that deserve British release at some date.) Nonetheless, despite the changes in personnel and emphasis, Wigwam - who almost changed their name to Wigloo - have as much claim now to be distinctively idiosyncratic as then, 'Nuclear Nightclub,' their first release, was marred by overproduction and a paucity of really good material. Both problems have been eradicated. 'Lucky' was recorded at The Manor and contains eight songs by Pembroke and a much more assured Pekka Rechardt. And if the album title is slightly reminiscent of Traffic's 'Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys'... Pembroke would probably list the Band, Traffic and Procol Harum among his loves. Three very musicianly groups, as are Wigwam, with everyone collaborating rather than outbidding - low profile virtuosity being the order of the day. In addition, instrumentation - with two keyboards, guitar, bass and drums - has obvious precedents in Procol and the Band: all weather capability. Pembroke sings and writes most of the lyrics. His voice combines the deadpan satire of a Randy Newman with a more desparate, almost manic, edge. He has a remarkable ability to twist and inflect phrases around the melody and accent of songs. His lyrics reflect a determination to keep head above water, above the encroaching flood of what in the title cut he calls 'social termination.' But 'Lucky' isn't a formal, explicitly conceived 'concept' record, rather an inspired collection and interrelation of themes. And The World is Pembroke's lyrical stage, his wit that of the gravediggers in 'Hamlet' - black, wry and acerbic. His subject matter covers ecological imbalance, political intrigue, insanity, saviours and prophets, much more. As we all blithely trip along the high wire to apocalyptic oblivion. Pembroke's ways of expressing such apprehension are at times very unsettling. Both he and Rechardt have a predilection for compulsive melodies, the very fibre of spontaneous bop. Osterberg and Mosse Groundstroem (bass) keeps things very strict and self-controlled whilst Rechardt sneaks in dense clusters of guitar chords. Thus you'll find 'International Disaster' innocently zapping along whilst Pembroke croons "there'll be waltzing in Vienna, fighting in Angola..." A simple trick of juxtaposition, but very effective. 'Sane Again' has, of course, little enough to do with regaining any form of equilibrium; it opens the album, the first of three bulletins from the asylum. The other components of this trilogy are 'Eddie And The Boys', another airy toon with echoed guitar skimming it by like a hydrofoil, and 'Nutshell,' the closing 'idiot' song. And in a nutshell is where, Pembroke argues, we're likely to end up, ostrich people, to ignore the outriders of disaster, happily and manically insulated to the last. Both 'Nutshell' and 'Eddie' are graced with crazy marimba - a neat addition. Elsewhere are 'Timedance,' an instrumental dervish spree, followed by 'Colossus,' weird scenes in some northern castle. This and 'Never Turn You In,' a ballad about Christ and his betrayal, allow Hessu Hietanen to enshroud developments in chill, shimmering string organ. The total effect, allied with Pembroke's melancholy voice, is overwhelmingly anguished. Rechardt, always a graceful soloist, offers his move to threaten checkmate in the title song's centrepiece, a low level jet strike of curling notes, and plays his most striking set of chords in 'June May Be Too Late.' Enough detail. Wigwam are brutally honest, often very poignant. Sober up, whilst there's still time. [ from "The Guerrillas Of The Wigloo" Angus MacKinnon, Street Life, April 3-16, 1976


Wigwam have the rare distinction of being the only '70s band from Finland to have made any impact outside the country, as well as being an incubator for the country's top prog musicians — the only catch was that the anticipated massive breakthrough never happened. The group came together in the late '60s, when drummer Ronnie Österberg, expat English singer/keyboard player Jim Pembroke, guitarist Nikke Nikamo, and bassist Mats Hulden, all of whom had been in Blues Section, decided to form a new band. They drafted in keyboardist Jukka Gustavson, and Wigwam was born. Their first album, 1969's Hard'n'Horny, had Gustavson's work on one side, Pembroke's on the other. For their second album, Tombstone Valentine, both Hulden and Nikamo had vanished, having experienced disputes with the producer, American scenester Kim Fowley. But the record did see the debut of virtuoso bass player Pekka Pohjola. While well received, it still didn't sell many copies, which was also true of their next disc, Fairyport. Following that, both Pembroke and Pohjola made solo albums, leaving Gustavson to put together the next band effort, the dark and prog-ish Being, which won Album of the Year in Finland. But even awards couldn't keep Pohjola and Gustavson in the band, although before they left, they took part in the shows that made up 1975's Live Music From the Twilight Zone, a concert mix of solo material and covers of the Beatles and the Band. Following that, the band split briefly. The reformation brought plenty of new personnel and Pemboke as the central figure, Wigwam went on to enjoy their most successful period, releasing Nuclear Nightclub, which was licensed for international distribution by Virgin, who brought the band to England to tour — at which point they also recorded their next disc, Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose. Wigwam seemed on the verge of real success, but couldn't quite cross over, and when the follow-up, tentatively titled Daemon Duncetan's Request, was turned down by Virgin, the bottom seemed to fall out. The record was revamped and released in Finland in 1977 as Dark Album. But by the time it hit the shelves, Wigwam had played an unofficial farewell show and split for the second time. Pembroke moved to Kansas, and continued to record solo albums, and in 1993 the band regrouped to record Light Ages. Occasional shows have been played since, but while best-of and rarities CDs have been released, the group definitely isn't officially together. © Chris Nickson © 2009 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dpfwxql5ld0e~T1