Monday, February 12, 2007

Secret Oyster - Sea Son,LP,1974,Denmark,(NWW list!)

Secret Oyster was really a continuation of Burnin' Red Ivanhoe, who split (for the first time) in 1972 following several disputes over the future direction of the band between Karsten Vogel and the other members. With Secret Oyster's excellent musicians (including Bøhling from Hurdy Gurdy and Knudsen from Coronarias Dans), Vogel had a perfect vehicle to explore new directions in instrumental fusion, partly inspired by Weather Report, but also adding Bøhling's magnificent lead guitar!
Secret Oyster's first album became an artistic and commercial success in Denmark. It also sold well in the rest of Scandinavia and gained some recognition in Germany, Great Britain and the USA. In spite of this, Vinding and Andersen left the group. The appearance of Stæhr caused Burnin' Red Ivanhoe to rise again, now with the same line-up as Secret Oyster (but with a different musical style).“Sea Son” consolidated their popularity, but couldn't match the first album in terms of quality (it was still quite good jazz-rock, though). In 1975, Secret Oyster went on a European tour as support act to Captain Beefheart, but later the same year CBS International opted not to continue to invest in Secret Oyster.
"Vidunderlige Kælling" (1975) was the music to a ballet by Flemming Flint. The compositions (in contrast to those on the previous albums) were more concise and almost free of any improvisation. Secret Oyster handled this task quite well. However, their last album was an ill-fated attempt to make more easily accessible music.
Secret Oyster was one of the few Danish groups mentioned here that gained healthy record sales. Their first album remains an important album in the general history of Danish rock.
Taken from Scented Gardens of the Mind - A guide to the Golden Era of Progressive Rock (1968-1980) in more than 20 European Countries, by Dag Erik Asbjørnsen, Borderline Productions, ISBN 1-899855-12-2
Claus Bøhling - Guitar
Kenneth Knudsen - Keyboards
Karsten Vogel - Sax, Keyboards
Mads Vinding - Bass
Bo Thrige Andersen - Drums
Jess Stæhr - Bass
Ole Streenberg - Drums
Secret Oyster 1973 CBS 65769
Sea Son 1974 CBS 80489 (released in the USA as "Furtive Pearl")
Vidunderlige Kælling 1975 CBS 81044
Straight To The Krankenhaus 1976 CBS 81434

This is a lost classic from these relatively unheard of Danish jazz fusion/psychsters. A very tight unit that at times sound like the Mahavishnu Orchestra albeit more laid back, especially the violin on track two "Mind Movie", and the build up on "Pajamamafia" is very Birds of Fire era 'vishnu. The Secret Oyster could also put together some great pieces of music some times very hypnotic as is the case with said mentioned "Mind Movie" with a looping riff over some nice guitar work from Claus Bøling. Soft Machine also come to mind occasionally but the songs the Oyster produce really stand up on their own though the sound would be the same time zone as during 1973-'74 the Soft Machine added a guitarist to their line up, and as much as I like the Soft Machine, I find Sea Son a much more listenable and working experimental album as opposed to Softs or Bundles as these two records were more akin to Jazz/rock fusion more than the earlier Soft Machine work but lacked the bite, raw energy or innocence of the earlier work. Sea Son is certainly a fresh and engrossing album with plenty of raw action. All round The Secret Oyster put together a fine collection of tracks on their second album which then is all the more surprizing that they have remained almost an obscure unit (though signed to the mighty CBS who virtually looked after the majority of jazz and jazz related acts) when at that time during the early to mid seventies the fusion genre took flight and many acts used it very successfully, some arguably with a lesser talent and craft than the Secret Oyster, but such is life. I had come across their name in conversation a few times over the years and the albums kept alluding me and I began to wonder was it just a myth or something. I don't know if these are available on CD but they should be searched out, they are quite collectible on vinyl. Certainly a must and especially for those who are fans of the fusion era. Very rewarding music that deserves attention.
get it here


musicgnome said...

Another interesting album (Secret Oyster).

For me, one of the more interesting tracks is "Vive La Quelle", a fantastic blend of hard rock and jazz/progressive styles bookending a dizzying drum solo and sporting some FANTASTIC guitar and Keyboard elements.

"Public Oyster" (which I imagine would be the antithesis of a Secret Oyster?) begins where most progressive rock bands wind up when attempting to improv/jam. This song almost sounds like the orphaned child from Miles Davis' Jack Johnson sessions.

Mis(s) Fortune sounds a little "lite" for these ears, despite the complexity of the bass/keyboard interplay. And, "Ova-X" comes off a little disjointed and unrealized, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, much thanks goes out to Mutant Sounds for another great share!

Steve said...

Thanks for the download and the info, I just bought this record.. it was a little funkier than I expected.. in my case thats a good thing..

btw, I have Vidunderlige Kælling up for grabs at my blog for anyone who's interested.

72custom said...

Thank you so much!