Carol Of Harvest, like Emtidi, Gurnemanz, Ougenweide and Hoelderlin, showed that a psychedelic prog folk scene did exist in Germany in the 70s, but their sole effort came along when the other bands had shifted or disappeared, and therefore the genre was of less interest by then. In fact, one might even ask what the point was. Most of the ideas presented here were long past their expiry date both in their native land and elsewhere, often sounding more like early than late 70s. The instrumentation is sparse and samey, featuring mostly heavily strummed electric or amplified acoustic guitars, with the keys secondary.
Where Carole of Harvest departs from all of the above in a favourable sense is the superb vocals of Beate Krause, who is reminiscent of the singers in the aforementioned groups but also of Jacquie MacShee and Annie Haslam. It is expressive and is in perfect sync with the accompaniment, no more so than in the finale of the original LP, “Try a LIttle Bit”, 10 minutes of prog folk bliss with more bite than Pentangle or Renaissance could ever hope to muster. Ms Krause’s wordless acompaniment that follows the main part of the song is masterfully expressive and harmonious, and the synthesizers, and perhaps mellotron at the finale, provide just the right augmentation to the basic sound. While drums are present on this track, they are kept low and are not needed, so potent is the basic groove. That is the general trend in the album.
The other major highlight is the longest song, the 16 minute anti war reflection called “Put on Your Nightcap” that opens the album with tentative guitar reflections, unrushed and pregnant with promise, accompanied by the sounds of the wind. The structure and manner of buildup is very progressive, with time given to express the lyrical themes and some impressive synthesizer and lead guitar work, mostly played at a slow pace reflecting the ponderous nature of the theme. A second part is slightly more upbeat with more emphasis on the rhythm, and some prominent bass work.
The other three original songs from the LP are all shorter and decent but not quite to 5 star level, being like more concise but less interesting versions of the two monsters. The bonus material is live, shows a more straightforward rocking side of the band, and sounds quite out of place given the strength and style of the other material.
While the harvest reaped is superficially similar to the usual autumn fare, the album manages to carve a feast for the prog fan with an interest in electric folk, as well as an indelible niche among the many German one-offs in existence. Highly recommended.(by kenethlevine)
Robert Högn (drums)
Beate Krause (vocals)
Jürgen Kolb (keyboards)
Axel Schmierer (guitar)
Heinz Reinschlüssel (bass)
01. Put On Your Nightcap (Schmierer) 16.02
02. You And Me (Schmierer) 2.31
03. Somewhere At The End Of The Rainbow (Schmierer) 6.26
04. Treary Eyes (Schmierer) 4.17
05. Try A Little Bit (Schmierer) 9.59
06. River (Schmierer) 2.36
07. Sweet Heroin (Schmierer) 7.04
08. Brickstone (Schmierer) 1.14