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SBB: Roskilde 1978

Poland has come to be a major player in the prog rock scene with the likes of Satellite, Riverside and Collage to name but a few, but it all began with the band SBB. SBB has been around forever, or so it seems, and have attained high status indeed, which in and of itself is no small accomplishment. This 2008 release goes back in time to 1978 and their famous concert at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. SBB have the distinction of being the first Polish band to perform there. There is an interesting story attached to this concert. SBB were scheduled to perform immediately after Bob Marley. As Marley's road crew were clearing out their gear they wanted to take SBB's polymoog because it was in an identical case as theirs. Apparently they were quite taken aback that a band from Europe used a polymoog, especially a band from Poland. It is clear, from listening to this release, the polymoog was used extensively by the band, and is one of the highlights of this cd.

Having not heard a lot from this band I was not sure what to expect. I would describe this mostly as traditional progressive rock with a strong jam band feel. There are also the bluesy and jazzy moments that have helped to define the band's sound over the years. The album is chalk full of symphonic moments (provided by Jozef Skrzek) from lush waves of melodic soundscapes to stabbing polymoog solos. Skrzek also provides vocals. While not having the world's strongest voice by any means, he gets the job done. Lyrics are in both English and Polish. The guitar work of Apostolis Antymos is also worth noting. Some of his play here is quite beautiful and very melodic, to go with his more experimental sounds. Also on display are his forays into blues and jazz rock territory showing his versatility.

All songs on this album are over seven minutes and there are two long epics, both over twenty minutes long giving the album a total length of over seventy minutes. The album begins with "Walkin' Around The Stormy Bay", the shortest song offered. Moog sounds and a nice drum fill get things started. The fast pace is then slowed down to allow for some dramatic keyboard work. The heavy riff combined with uplifting keyboard parts makes for a nice melodic opener. A shortened version of "Going Away" follows with a dramatic moog intro that reminded me of Wish You Were Here era Pink Floyd. Marching drums soon begin, building up to an emotional guitar part while the moog fills in the rest. The keyboards and guitar are the highlights here, with both getting equal billing. My favorite on the album is the final song "Follow My Dream". Delicate guitar and keyboard work start things off followed by some choppy rhythm guitar and another melodic solo courtesy of Antymos, this one venturing into jam band territory. There are plenty of musical breaks allowing for different patterns and rhythms where the instrumental prowess is clearly demonstrated. While there is no denying the ability of these musicians, the instrumental noodling never seems too much or out of place.

Listening to this album has peaked my interest. I look forward to hearing more SBB in the future. If you are already a fan of the band I see no reason not to have this in your collection. For those new to the band, and who like 70s progressive rock, give them a try, you just might like what you hear.

Track Listing:
1. Walkin' Around The Stormy Bay
2. Going Away: Going Away/(Zywiec) Mountain Melody/Loneliness Theme
3. Deszez kroplisty, deszez ulewny (including drum solo)
4. Ze stowem biegne do ciebie
5. Follow My Dream (including "Wiosenne chimery")

Added: February 5th 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 2058
Language: english

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