Saturday, February 17, 2007

Finnish Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from a Remote Northern Country


The Renegades: 'Cadillac'


The Renegades: '13 Women'

[NOTE: THIS COMPILATION HAS NOT BEEN OFFICIALLY RELEASED YET. PLEASE, DON'T SEND ME ANY ENQUIRIES ABOUT WHERE TO GET IT. Whenever I will receive information about the official release and label, I am going to add the info to this blog; before that, ALL ENQUIRIES WILL BE IGNORED.]

Some time ago I received from Euphonic, a Finnish record collector, this 2-CDR compilation which is now seeking for an official release. Suffice it to say I was very happily surprised and also truly flabbergasted by the contents here. You see, as old fans of this type of music, for some years me and some friends have been toying with the idea of a Finnish counterpart to the legendary compilation records Nuggets and Pebbles, consisting of garage rock, freakbeat and psychedelic pop of the 1960s.

The quest for similar Finnish bands and songs from the same era has been mind-boggling but not a little bit frustrating, especially with us not being heavy-duty vinyl-hunting record collectors ourselves but rather lazy dabblers usually happy with CD re-releases; it also often having felt there are scarcely a handful of local examples which would have even remotely fitted to this template. In that period between the early 60s Finnish rautalanka craze (instrumental guitar bands styled after The Ventures, The Shadows, et al.) and the progressive rock bands such as Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti emerging in the end of that same decade, as Euphonic expertly points out with his track choices, there was apparently quite a lot of "Nuggetish" music from local bands; many of them unfortunately lost in the mists of time. At least before their re-emergence here.

On the other hand, the question of what is exactly kosher and what is not for this type of compilation is of some dispute. It's good to remember even the variety of selections on countless Nuggets compilations and CD boxes can be quite heterogenous; varying from raunchier "proto-punk" of the bands like The Sonics to some more light and soft pop or ballads, even though of slightly psychedelic (or pseudo-psychedelic) flavour. Euphonic commented in the related thread at GaragePunk.com another similarly-themed (and also unofficial) compilation Pebbles from the Shores of Thousand Lakes, that the "comp was well meant and all that, but it really stretches the whole Nuggets concept into unrecognizability by including a lot of material that simply does not belong there". Likewise, following these same strict criteria, pHinnWeb's own tentative efforts to find a repertoire of representative songs here might be considered more or less misled, too... Personal tastes and preferences aside, I really think Euphonic (and his contributing record-collecting compadres) has done an amazing work here in digging up some of these little musical, erm, nuggets (or, perhaps in this case, frosty ice-covered pebbles).

The collection features a booklet of extensive liner notes by Euphonic; featuring a chockful of background information on Finnish rock scene of the day, detailed band biographies with information on respective line-ups and naturally of the original releases' record labels and catalogue numbers.

About the bands themselves, most of them hail from Helsinki, though represented too are such towns as Espoo, Tampere, Turku, Hämeenlinna, Jyväskylä, Porvoo, Kuusankoski, Somero (the pre-fame Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki on Chuck Berry), Tornio and Mariehamn; indicating that a vibrant beat scene was found all over the country, not only in its most obvious urban spots. The double-album also prominently features some bands who were not Finnish but instead recorded or enjoyed their biggest popularity here. The most notable of these is of course Birmingham's Renegades, who busted Finnish charts with their 'Cadillac'. Also Brummies were The Andicaps featured here. From Liverpool hailed The Kirkbys, and from Blackpool Reverend Black & The Rocking Vickers; the latter band featuring in its line-up one Ian Willis, later better known as Lemmy of Motörhead and Hawkwind! Such British expats as Jim Pembroke (The Pems, Blues Section) and Frank Robson (Mosaic) also have their important role here. The most curious foreign guest on the compilation must be, though, Petr Novák, appearing with George & The Beatovens, hailing from Communist Czechoslovakia, but enjoying a brief Finnish stint.

I don't know if it's too purposeful to give any detailed reviews of every featured band here, but some personal highlights include, for example, The Beat Stones' 'V.I.P.', perhaps following somewhere in the footsteps of The Yardbirds; the legendary 'Kevät' ("Spring") by New Joys with its ultra-sharp, fuzzy band sound and somewhat gloomy lyrics (during long winter nights a guy dreams of spring so he could be with his girl -- so, spring finally comes but the girl won't be anywhere to be seen); 'Meditation' by Mariehamn's Hitch Hikers (a bluesy excursion featuring some protopsychedelic-sounding guitar modulations reminiscing of Indian music); Blues Section's hard-driving, sound FX-laden 'Hey Hey Hey' and The Islanders' wah-wah guitar and violin-flavoured arrangement of 'Beat The Clock' by The McCoys (UK), featuring as its vocalist Kirill "Kirka" Babitzin, who recently died (eerily, I received these records the very same day the news were widely spread in Finnish media of Kirka's passing). As an overview, all 66 tracks featured here give even a somewhat surprising image of the 60s Finnish band scene as extremely vivid and well aware of international trends of its day. (Even though the English language in some lyrics leaves something to be desired, to say the least.) Kudos to Mr. Euphonic for putting together this massive work.

Finnish Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from a Remote Northern Country, Vol. 1 (Disc One)

1. The Renegades (UK): Cadillac
2. The Needles: A Dying Man
3. Eero & The Boys: Route 66
4. Eddy & The Lightnings: Shut Up
5. Topmost: The "In" Crowd
6. Jim & The Beatmakers: My Only One
7. The Beat Stones: V.I.P.
8. Antti "Andy" Einiö & The Islanders: Farmer John
9. The Holders: I Only Want to Look at You
10. Rev. Black & The Rocking Vickers (UK): Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart
11. Eddy & The Lightnings: Olet paha!
12. Cay & The Scaffolds: Girls
13. The Savages: Hip Hop
14. The Renegades (UK): Far From It
15. Jormas: New Orleans
16. The Firestones: Can Anyone Be True
17. Jim Pembroke (UK) & The Pems: I Don't Mind, I Got Mine
18. The Mods: Tommy Jones
19. Silvery: There's No Other (Like My Baby)
20. New Joys: Kevät
21. The Kirkbys (UK): 'Cos My Baby's Gone
22. The Roosters: Hold Me
23. Cay & The Scaffolds: You
24. Jormas: Dance to the Locomotion
25. Topmost: I'll Go Crazy
26. The Needles: Where Can She Be
27. Buddy & The Wiremen: Shanghai
28. The Downwalkers: I Don't Believe You
29. The Esquires: Tunnen sen
30. The Coyotes: Angela
31. Eero & Jussi, with The Boys: Hello Josephine
32. Jormas: California Dreamin'
33. The Gregory Allan: Shape of Surprise

Finnish Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from a Remote Northern Country, Vol. 2 (Disc Two)

1. Blues Section: Call Me On Your Telephone
2. The Scaffolds: I Wanna Be
3. Eddy & The Lightnings: Any More
4. Eero & Jussi, with The Boys: I Just Wanna Make Love to You
5.The Renegades (UK): Take A Heart
6. The Andicaps (UK): You Make Me Happy
7. The Hitch Hikers: Meditation
8. King Albert & His Strolling Bones: The Octopus
9. The Sounds: Roll Over Bach
10. Jim & The Beatmakers: You Can't Go Away
11. Eero & The Boys: Sinä vain
12. The Scaffolds: You're Running Out of Money
13. The Islanders: Beat the Clock
14. The Kirkbys (UK): Don't You Want Me No More
15. The Roosters: What Have I Got of My Own
16. The Five Comets: I'm Coming
17. Blues Section: Hey, Hey, Hey
18. Harry & The Hound Dogs: You Better Be All Right
19. The Five Yes: Bye Bye Johnny
20. Ernos: Harha
21. The Renegades (UK): Thirteen Women
22. Jormas: I Can't Break The Habit
23. Johnny & The Sounds: I Can't Break The Habit
24. The Roosters: See See Rider
25. Topmost: I Keep Forgettin'
26. The Careless: Desolate Time
27. The Victors: I'm In Love With You
28. The Rondo Four: Get On The Road
29. The First: Olet mielessäin
30. The Tonics: Hey Mister Flowerman
31. Petr Novák, with George & The Beatovens (Czechoslovakia): Why Do You Leave Me
32. Frank Robson & Mosaic: Happier Man
33. Silvery: Free

More:

  • Finland Rocks @ GaragePunk.com
  • Nuggets from Finland @ Cratedigger blog
  • More Musings on Finnish Nuggets @ Cratedigger blog

    Related links at pHinnWeb:

  • 60s Garage Rock & Psychedelia in Finland
  • Beyond the Calico Wall: Garage Psychedelia @ pHinnWeb

    Related videos:


    Topmost: 'Merisairaat kasvot/Nään mustaa vaan'

    Topmost, a band featured on this compilation, was probably best known in Finland for these translated cover versions, respectively, of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' by Procol Harum and 'Black Is Black' by Los Bravos.


    The Creatures in 1966

    The Creatures (not to be confused with Siouxsie Sioux's UK project of the same name!) was a Finnish band featuring the talents of young Kirka Babitzin (only 15 at the time of this excerpt) and Henry "Remu" Aaltonen, later best known as the drummer of The Hurriganes [sic]. Sadly the band never got to record, so one of few remaining testimonies of their fierce energy is found in Mikko Niskanen's 1966 film Käpy selän alla, where this excerpt is taken from.
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