Imagination

I'm Always Right - The WDR Tapes 1977

The Artless Cuckoo
22.95 €
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We are proud to present "I'm Always Right" by Imagination, an unreleased jazz rock LP from 1977. Comprised of five tracks with a playtime of roughly 30 minutes, you will hear one of the finest German late-70s rock-tinged electric jazz albums of the era. The recording is a delightful stand-out with unique compositions, aspiring solo work, and a soulful spirit throughout. Additionally, the album veritably glows with exceptional sound quality, as it has been remastered from original tapes that were cut more than four decades ago at the WDR Funkhaus, Cologne. Here is the story of how label founder John Raincoatman became aware of these lost tapes: "I first got in touch with members of Imagination from Düsseldorf (not to be confused with the UK disco band under the same name) in 2017 for licensing the track "Strawberry Wine" from their collectible "Shake It" album from 1980. A couple of months later, when I was speaking with Willi Hövelmann, the guitarist for Imagination, he told me about some recordings the band had made a couple of years before, when they had been invited to to the studio of the WDR, a major German broadcaster. A couple of weeks later, when Hövelmann finally sent me the files that he had requested from the WDR, I could not believe what I heard - not only that the songs were totally different from what I expected, but that they were also very very good! The music wasn't comparable to any other kind of fusion release that I knew of. These five songs were straight forward, tight and soulful electric jazz rock, a combination rarely heard from Germany from that time period." How come Imagination - at that time a young newcomer band consisting of musicians between 19 and 22 years of age - was able to record at the well-equipped Funkhaus studio of German radio and television? Hövelmann explains: "The WDR got to know us from a newcomer band competition called "Pop am Rhein" (Pop at the Rhine) which was set up to support local bands and was promoted by several bigger newspapers. Imagination was one of the 5 contestants which were picked from 59 bands by a jury of music journalists and our band was invited to play a concert at the Philipshalle in front of about 3500 guests. Although a band called "Accept" won the contest (yes, the heavy metal band that gained international success in the following years!) and Imagination only made 3rd place, we were invited by music host and journalist Wolfgang Neumann to record in a professional studio." Neumann's broadcasting show at the WDR was called "Rock Studio", and one of his special goals was to help push newcomer bands by giving them airplay. As a side note, Neumann actually compiled a series of three LPs on the Harvest label from 1979-1982, each of them featuring four bands. However, the earlier recordings of Imagination had only been used for broadcasting reasons, they were aired a couple of times but never made it to a vinyl or CD release. So, on October 10th, 1977, it was time for the band to show up and prove themselves in the studio. The tracks were all recorded in one afternoon, mainly as one takes. In some cases flute, saxophone were overdubbed, as well as the vocals on "Love is Genesis", as Hövelmann remembers. The first song, "Jazzgang" can probably be seen as Imagination's most characteristic composition out of their early period: heavy bass, saxophone leads and speedy solos by the band members. A genuine, rough, yet funky uptempo jazz rock tune. But it's "I'm Always Right", the second track on the album, that raises the bar as the key track of the release with its 10-minute length. The song starts with a great piano solo by Mario F. Demonte. In fact, "Demonte" was a pseudonym of Ratko Delorko, a classically trained piano virtuoso who is still active today as conductor, composer and performer. At that time, it was simply impossible for him to officially be part in a band like Imagination and hence the alias was invented. Anyway, the speedy intro leads to a very soulful mid-tempo jazz funk groove that offers space and time for the band members to perform a solo. First off is Uwe Ziss with sax and flute combined. The second solo belongs to Willi "Sultan" Hövelmann on electric guitar. For the furious ending the pace is set back to high speed. Delorko serves us with one of the most brilliant uptempo piano solos you may have heard in a while on a jazz record. The next song stylistically stands out from the rest. "Biting My Time" incorporates a rhythm and blues feel with a 60s soul jazz attitude. The track was composed by Uwe Ziss who leads through the track with aspiring flute solos which feel like an easy summer breeze after the first two rock tinged tunes. "Himalaya" sees Imagination move away from jazz quite a bit, rather approaching the psychedelic rock genre with a vibe reminiscent of the sound of the early 70s. Again starting with a piano solo by Ratko Delorko the pace is quickly at 150 bpm with the full band laying down an energetic jazz rock sound. Just after a little over one-and-a-half minutes there is a breakdown to a slower tempo with overdubbed mysterious vocals and psyche-y screams which may remind more of the legendary krautrock band Can than what is typically known as "jazz". The mood continues with tense saxophone and guitar solos, just to speed up again towards the end with furious drumming by Andreas Oelschläger. "Love Is Genesis" concludes the release. It was composed and sung by former bassist Robert Schlickmann. Though most of the band members didn't really like the song at that time it still is a one-of-a-kind soft rock pop ballad which partly reminds of some of the vocal song tracks later to be found on the "Shake It" LP from 1980. The track manifested that Imagination were never really supposed to be solely an instrumental band. We are now happy to have cleared the exclusive rights for this recording from the WDR and are proud to re-present this amazing collection of songs. It should appeal to fusion, jazz rock and jazz funk aficionados but also to late krautrock collectors. We are also certain that it will also please fans of the "Shake It" album, simply in terms of being such a bright and soulful debut with great music overall.

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Details

Release Date

28.04.2020

Cat No

TAC 008

Tracklist

Track 1
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Track 2
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Track 3
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Track 4
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Track 5
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I'm Always Right - The WDR Tapes 1977The Artless Cuckoo
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