SECRET OYSTER became somewhat of a super group when members of BURNIN’RED IVANHOE, CORONARIAS DANS and HURDY GURDY formed this unit. By the end of BURNIN’ RED IVANHOE’s career (that spawned seven years), Karsten Vogel started forming a new band taking along with him BRI’s drummer Thrige and often jazz-partner bassist Vinding with him. Knowing from the Danish circuit guitarist Claus Bohling, he enticed him into the band that took its name from a track from BRI’s second album Secret Oysters Service. The last to join was keyboardist Knudsen, who had never played an electric instrument prior to entering this outfit, but was playing in a piano avant-garde trio. Knudsen would prove particularly helpful as the second songwriter of the group and allowing Vogel to leave the keyboards at will to play wind instruments.
Their sound recalled MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, NUCLEUS, Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi and Sextant albums as well as Miles DAVIS’s Bitches Brew. Quite a success and this prompted their record company to release that album internationally but under the title “Furtive Pearl”. After a line-up changze that saw the rhythm section get a complete overhaul (Staer for Vinding and Streenberg for Thrige) their second album, Sea Son, is even better but failed to get international public recognition, even if all connoisseur will mostly agree on this album being the band’s apex. At one point the line-up of this group was also exactly the same as BURNIN’ RED IVANHOE (after it got revived because they also developed rockier material) as well as a third outfit, “Day Of The Phoenix”. This did not stop them from writing the music to a ballet “Vidunderlinge Kaelling” released as an album under the name of “Astarte”, with very mixed results just a few months before their final album, the much better “Straight From The Krankenhaus” also known as “Orlander”.
Aside from their confusion of their album names and general discography, SECRET OYSTER is a great jazz-rock/fusion outfit that deserved a lot more attention for they were almost as good as the groups named above.
All four original albums have received a thorough and outstanding remastering with added bonus tracks on the great label Laser’s Edge. Secret Oyster got back together (Bohling, Vogel and Knudsen plus a new bassist and drummer) during the re-issues of their albums, touring the states and Denmark. Also maybe in the works, an un-released studio album (roots in the Astarte ballet deal) and a live album from these years could see the light of day in the following years. (progarchives.com)
The first album from Secret Oyster is much in the vein of where the Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe left off. Though now the band, also incorporating members from at least one other Danish prog/psyche act Hurdy Gurdy, were mainly composing instrumentals with a wild free form attitude and developing their looping hypnotic tunes around Karsten Vogel’s swirling and loud saxophone’s. Though the band do lay down a steady rhythmic pattern the guitar and aforementioned saxophone improvise and express hints of psyche with a tendency to develop progressive like patterns and tasting the realms of jazz/rock fusion, the genre which was making heady waves during the early seventies. “Dampexpressen” is certainly expressive but never damp, there is a humourous element here in the music and it is very much like Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe on this track, while “Fire And Water” presents a sound that would be more inclined to be regarded as typical Secret Oyster, if it would be fair to label them that. “Public Oyster” is a cool breeze trip of avant garde with some textured wah wah guitar from Claus Bøling and a clever play on words before we get stoned and zoned out of our minds with “OVA-X”.
While stepping into the waters of fusion the Secret Oyster retain a quality and style in their music that is very familiar when compared with the bands later albums, here they sound rough and ready. They would progress and get better, become more cohesive and acquire a Secret Oyster sound rather than simply be a band that derived from the Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe. But they frustratingly moved along producing solid albums without the commercial success that many lesser acts were adorned with. Not only were they just one of Denmark’s finest groups but one of the better fusion acts from that period. (by Philo)
Recorded at the Quali-Sound Studio, Nibe, Denmark. June 25th – 27th, 1973
Bo Thrige Andersen (drums)
Claus Bøhling (guitar)
Kenneth Knudsen (piano)
Mads Vinding (bass)
Karsten Vogel (saxophone, organ)
US front + backcover
01. Dampexpressen (Vogel) 4.27
02. Fire & Water (Vogel) 5.37
03. Vive La Quelle ? (Vogel) 8.52
04. Blazing Laze (Bøhling) 4.59
05. Public Oyster (Knudsen) 10.51
06. Mis(s) Fortune (Knudsen) 1.32
07. Ova-X (Vogel) 5.03
08. Dampexpressen (live) (Vogel) 7.25
09. Orlavaer (Andersen/Bøhling/Knudsen/Vinding/Vogel) 2.16
08: Radiohusets Koncertsal, Copenhagen – Recorded November 26, 1973
09: Rosenberg Studio, Copenhagen – Recorded Jan./Feb. 1973