SBB – Live in America ’94 (1994)

FrontCover1SBB is one of the most important Polish bands of the seventies. This band, rightfully listed in the eclectic progressive genre, mainly plays a hybrid of symphonic prog, space/atmospheric prog and fusion.

The band originated from the early seventies, with their initial name being SILESIAN BLUES BAND. The band was formed by composer, keyboardist, bass-player and extravert vocalist Józef SKRZEK. Young, but skill-full guitar-player Antymos APOSTOLIS added his great solo’s and drummer extraordinaire Jerzy PIOTROWSKi freely experimented with his recognizable fast fills and break-up rhythms.

In the end of ’71, after a year full of gigs, the band started a fruitful cooperation with one of Polish most important musicians and song-writers: Czes³aw NIEMEN. For a year and a half the band NIEMEN toured in Poland, as well as in Europe. During this period SBB & NIEMEN recorded three critically acclaimed progressive records; “Marionetki” (1972), “Strange is This World” (1972) and “Ode to Venus” (1973).

After this period SBB regrouped itself and changed its name in SZUKAJ – BURZ – BUDUJ (Search – Break – Build up). In 1974 their first album ‘SBB’ was recorded live. Though the album lacked cohesiveness (both piano ballads and very dirty experimental rock improvisation), it was a big hit in Poland and soon it ran out of stock. The record was sold on the black market for twice the price.

SBB1In 1975 SBB recorded its first studio album in the radio studios of Polish Radio 3. ‘Nowy Horyzont’ was a full-blown innovative and progressive recording that would set the course for the rest of their career. The political involvement in the lyrics of their studio-debut makes it a historical achievement, though it’s recording doesn’t stand the test of time very well. The band had some clear fusion influences (MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA is said to been a big influence), some spacey influences from bands like PINK FLOYD and some symphonic influences. The atmosphere of SBB’s albums would however be a bit more abstract then those of their English colleagues. The drums of SBB stand out as very energetic and important for the band’s intelligent atmospheres.

Late in 1975 SBB returned to the studio, resulting in their first swan-song ‘ Pamieç’. Three long songs, with full-blown and mature symphonic arrangements, vocal theatrics and long spacey/atmospheric passages. In 1977 SBB continued their eclectic prog style with ‘Ze S³owem Biegnê Do Ciebie’, with only two long epics on it. Both albums are considered to be great eclectic prog albums.

In 1977 and early 1978 SBB experimented with material with a leaning towards pop and funk-jazz. ‘Jerzyk’ and ‘Amiga album’ aren’t considered to be classics of the band. But, 1978 showed yet another new course for SBB with the recording of ‘Follow My Dream’, a record with the goal to hit the Western European market. On this album SBB reinvented itself with a new, modern symphonic/progressive sound (reminding me a bit of the mid-seventies PINK FLOYD sound). Also, some of the lyrics were sung in English. The new arsenal of top-notch synthesizers and other equipment gave the band the sound it needed to make recordings that would stand the test of time. This move gave the band the opportunity to tour in many new countries and they were even allowed to tour behind the Iron Curtain, which was a big thing at the time.

The band would fully benefit from their new sound during the recording of ‘Wo³anie O Brzêk Szk³a aka Slovenian Girls’ in late 1978. Again, an album with only two long compositions, but this time with an emphasis on electronic equipment. To this day this album is mentioned as an SBB favorite by fans because of its well-balanced, great sounding progression. In 1979 SBB went to the studio to record ‘Welcome’, an album that was plagued by some mediocre compositions. Nevertheless, the opening-track ‘Walking On A Stormy Bay’ became a stage-favourite.

In 1979 a new band-member Slawomir PIWOWAR was added to release some pressure from the band that had some of most intensive touring schemes possible. He would play bass, second guitar and some key-instruments as well. A final come-back to the studio resulted in their last album ‘Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem’ in 1980. This album is their most symphonic record and perhaps their most conventional progressive record. Therefore it is accessible for fans of the English brand of symphonic prog. This album is also often mentioned as a fans favourite. After the following tour the band called it a day.

SBB2After some short comebacks in 1991, 1993 and 1998 the band had its final resurrection in the new millennium with a steady line-up consisting of Józef SKRZEK, Antymos APOSTOLIS and new drummer Paul WERTICO (of PAT MATHENY GROUP fame). Now SBB found itself ready to go back in the studio and since then five new studio albums were recorded in the vein of their seventies formula; ‘Nastroje’ (2002), ‘New Century’ (2005), ‘The Rock’ (2007), ‘Iron Curtain'(2009) and finally ‘Blue Trance'(2010). From 2004 on SBB also was able to record DVD’s of live shows and several live albums have been released since their comebacks in nineties. (by friso/progarchives)

This is one of their recordings during their reunion 1993/1994 and it was recorded live (in the studio and on stage).

In 1994 SBB were asked to perform live for a charity concert in Katowice. A decision was made to once again enlarge the personnel; subsequently, SBB turned into a quintet with Janusz Hryniewicz (voc, acc g) and Andrzej Rusek (gb) appearing as guests. The new line-up went on tour in 1993 and 1994 to eventually set off for a series of concerts in Polish-American clubs in the US. The tour ended up with a new MC release “Live In America `94” and a final collapse of the band merged with Piotrowski’s decision to stay in America.

SBBLive

Personnel:
Apostolis Antymos (guitar)
Jerzy Piotrowski (drums, percussion)
Józef Skrzek (keyboards, vocals,  harmonica)
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Janusz Hryniewicz (guitar, vocals)
Kim (vocals)
Andrzej Rusek (bass)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Follow My Dream (Skrzek/Brodowski) 6.00
02. Hung-Under (Skrzek/Drasch) 6.09
03. Wish (Skrzek/Drasch) 6.05
04. Singer Oh Singer (Skrzek/Winter) 4.47
05. Drzewko oliwne (Antymos) 6.16
06. Freedom With Us (Skrzek/Milik) 6.47
07. Basie (Antymos) 6.32
08. Oak Theatre (Skrzek) 4.04
09. Swinging Blues SBB (Skrzek) 6.03
10. Erotyk (Skrzek/Matej/Drasch) 4.49
11. Figo-Fago (Skrzek) 9.16

 

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