Straight to the Krankenhaus was the fourth and final release from Danish progressive fusion band Secret Oyster. Originally released in 1976 on CBS Records, this fine album is finally seeing the light of day on CD thanks for the folks at Lasers Edge, who have done an excellent job here on this reissue package. The music sounds great, there's a nice essay from sax player Karsten Vogel, who looks back on the band and the time that this album was recorded, band photographs, and artwork that is faithful to the original LP release.
The music here is vintage 70's fusion, but with a healthy dose of symphonic prog rock added in for an extra dollop of flavor. Chances are if you like Return to Forever, Brand X, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Lifetime, or Weather Report, you'll find this CD to your liking quite a bit. The line-up here was Vogel on sax, Claus Bohling on guitar, Kenneth Knudsen on keyboards, Jess Stahr on bass, and drummer Ole Streenberg. While Stahr and Streenberg were quite adept at laying down some tight funky/jazz/rock rhythms, the real stars here are Vogel, Bohling, and Knudsen, who offer up plenty of mind-blowing solos and complex unison lines & melodies. Check out the searing title track, which sees Knusden's electric piano and organ doing battle with Bohling's scorching guitar licks, and Vogel soars like a man on a mission during the melodic "My Second Hand Rose", which also has some fantastic, muscular bass grooves from Stahr. When Bohling enters the fray, look out, as his bluesy rock licks just scream with passion and fire. After the silky & smooth "High Luminant Silver Patters" comes the atmospheric space fusion piece "Delveaux", a real vehicle for Knudsen's synth flights and Vogel's squonking sax explorations. The band lurches back into more rock based arrangements on the groove laden "Stalled Angel", complete with Bohling's wah-wah licks, fluttering sax, and tons of thick bass lines. "Rubber Star" falls somewhat into Weather Report-ish territory, with jazzy electric piano washes laying the groundwork for soul-searching sax, nimble drum fills, and melodic bass, while "Traffic & Elephants" is frantic jazz-fusion, led by Vogel's insistent sax bursts and some tasty electric piano from Knudsen. The last album track is the proggy "Leda & The Dog", which sees Bohling, somewhat dormant from the previous few songs, returning with a vengeance to do battle with Knudsen for some searing interplay.
The bonus tracks here are quite good. "Alfred" is a rousing, funk laden number, showing what a talent bass player Stahl is, and also features plenty of hot guitar licks and tasty electric piano. Then you have lastly the melodic jazz number "Glassprinsen", a real winner for drummer Streenberg, who keeps a very busy pace throughout and allows Bohling and Knudsen to fire off some steamy solo duels over his frantic fills. In some ways, these two bonus tracks are more testosterone filled than anything on the official album, and more in line with what the band had recorded on their debut a few years earlier. It all makes for an essential fusion listening experience, but sadly, this was the final recording for the band. Hopefully, with their recent reunion concert at NEARfest this year, we might see something new from the band in the future.
2. Straight to the Krankenhaus
3. My Second Hand Rose
4. High Luminant Silver Patters
6. Stalled Angel
7. Rubber Star
8. Traffic & Elephants
9. Leda & The Dog
10. Alfred-bonus track
11. Glassprinsen [Glass Prince] -bonus track