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Kalevala - *Anthology CD (album) cover

*ANTHOLOGY

Kalevala

 

Prog Related

2.42 | 5 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Hmm, two anonymous persons have rated this with five stars... If only they had verbalized their opinion! Now I'm the first one to write about this 2-CD Anthology by a Finnish prog group from the seventies. Category could also be Heavy-Prog. In some respects Kalevala were a more straight-forward and harder rocking cousin to TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI - and naturally less jazzier too, though many tracks here are actually gritty and ballsy jazz-rock.

Liner notes (mainly by Lido Salonen, bassist/guitarist and the only all-time member) give a picture of the group's history, but for this set of music there are no information. I first listed the tracks of the three studio albums (1972, 1975, 1977) in order to see how this set relates to the output. My first surprise was that there seemed to be nothing at all from the debut People No Names. Then I found out that the whole CD 1 consists of live recordings. I hate this kind of lack of information.

Earliest recordings (1970) feature Remu Aaltonen on drums, who chose to form the legendary rock'n'roll band Hurriganes. 'Made in Sweden' (something to do with the future group of that name?) and 'Shaking All Over' as openers raised questions of what the hell is this anthology all about? OK, live, why no-one told that in advance? Third track 'Antti' is a short and nicely structured song in which Harri Saksala's (formerly of APOLLO) vocals work excellently. First I thought it was some separate studio recording, until the applause and speech in the end revealed the live nature. The next few tracks are energetic, instrumentally oriented jazz-rock featuring saxophone of Sakari Kukko, known from PIIRPAUKE. The rest of the first disc are some 1977 live takes of material from the albums Jungle Boogie and Abraham's Blue Refrain. The sonic level is not very bad, and probably Kalevala were at the time primarily a live band.

The CD 2 then seems to consist of the whole Abraham's... album plus five new tracks recorded in 1995. Again, it would be nice to be told. Prog is not very present in the band's style, this is slightly bluesy rock, but still several songs have that something to make them all right even for my ears. The vocals of Zape Leppänen remind me of FAMILY's Roger Chapman without the eccentric vibrato. As I mentioned above, five final tracks date from 1995. Kalevala never officially made a comeback. Salonen tells how the question became harder and harder as many members passed away. The reunion studio line-up features a wider group of players than ever before (e.g. Pekka Pohjola on bass) and the production is pretty good. As this review already has so many references to the Finnish (prog)rock scene, let's add that WIGWAM's Jim Pembroke wrote many of the lyrics! Especially I enjoyed 'The Song' of the five new tracks; 'Turkish Pepper' had some hilarious mock-orientalism, and 'Icebear Walk' has a strong and delicious bass line.

Although this set is terribly edited (with the lack of proper information being the biggest fault), there are at least some interesting stuff outside of the albums. The title Anthology is perhaps a bit misleading: this does not serve as a good introduction to Kalevala's output. Collectors/fans' stuff mostly. 2½ stars.

Matti | 2/5 |

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