Sweden. Despite of being known worldwide by its pop mass bands such as ABBA, Roxette and Ace of Base, this scandinavian rich country saw the usual rock development throughout its 60’s and 70’s in a very special ways.
The so-called Progg scene, a left wing and anti-commercial heterogeneous movement that paved the path for bands who didn’t wanted to sign with major labels, intended their own distribution methods and organized numerous music festivals and forums along the country’s decade. This unique attitude, unthinkable in many countries that would still suffer with military coups or persecution, featured a broad spectrum of musical styles, such as pop, folk, psych and prog.
Artists like Bo Hansson, Mikael Ramel, Kebnekajse, Hoola Bandoola Band, Nationalteatern and Samla Mammas Manna vied for attention of anarchists, communists and socialists audiences in the very early of the 70’s. (!)
The movement was closely connected to similar fronts in arts, theatre, design, and to alternative life styles; most lyrics were in Swedish and had a strong criticism against the governing Social Democratic Party. There were also a movement in support of the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, for instance.
And the famous protests to stop tennis matches against tennis players from the Pinochet-ruled Chile in Båstad 1975. At the end of the decade, however, the movement started to decline, as many of the bands disintegrated and the music forums were closed. The left wing ideals became less dominating among youngsters, and rock/folk were being being replaced by hard rock and electronic music.
On the other hand, since the end of the 90’s and the saturation from the vanguards of yore, many Progg bands have experienced some renaissance, reuniting for concerts, and new records/dvds. The film Together (2000), directed by Lukas Moodysson goes through that era, with a satirical view of socialist values, tied with a bittersweet comedy, it also offers some brilliant soundtrack, check it!
Let’s go to their history:
Mikael Ramel is the son of the legendary Povel Ramel, whose witty tunes from the 40’s and onwards have made him one of the Swedish national treasures, probably the greatest one! With influences from Beatles, Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Dr. John, they recorded a single together in 1965 before Mikael formed Steampacket the same year.
He played all the instruments himself on his first solo Ep, released in January 1967, special note to the track ‘Bara Ett Par Dar’. Ramel started working on his first solo album in 1969, painstakingly putting it together in his home studio, he wasn’t done until three years later. At the time of the release of Till Dej, Ramel was a also a member of Flasket Brinner, sweden’s prolific progg / jazz band!
Till Dej (1972) is a great effort of inventive and gracious Swedish-language folk-psychedelia. Extravagansa (1974) features more experimentation and was made by the same core musicians. 3:Dje Skivan (1977) is more polished but the experimenting is kept at bay. The album features the rhythm section of Kaj Söderström (bass, keyboards) and Hempo Hillden (drums). Both were members of Splash, the band plays on half of the tracks on Ramel’s last 70’s album, Rycker Dej i Svansen.
Mikael Ramel continues making music, although he’s a music therapist.
Let’s go to our record:
A bit aside from the whole scène, Mikael stands out as one of the most famous and talented artists from Sweden, imagine yourself being a son from the greatest artist of its country, it shouldn’t be easy, but Mikael were not complexed with that, aside from early comparisons, he traced its own path and sound. His first two records got a straight folk-rock direction that was completely dissolved on this one, again this is a marvelous point outside the curve of someone’s career!
Mikael: ‘This Lp was made with two different bands. I came in contact with the group Splash from Söderhamn. I had heard them and liked very much for their experimental and crazy folkloric music. After a period of contact, we agreed on an exchange, I promised to record an Lp with them on my existing mobile studio, for letting me use them as musicians in the whole production. They were nine people in the band, it was one of life’s absolute peaks! Earnings eventually became the Splash (1978) Lp.’
With a beautiful voice, tight band, arrangements and a fabulous mix of genres, the ‘IM’ highlights are: Förpackningar, a megaton reggae that could be perfectly played by The Wailers!. And Jag Rycker Dig I Svansen, a crazy disco-funk with some prog tinges that flourishes into guitar solos and latin percussion. Aside from these two, the album offers moments that will surely surprise you, this is also an exclusive rip!
Ha En Trevlig Resa!
A1 Mr. Stand-In
A2 Utflykt – A) Samling B) Karusellsväng C) På Väg
B1 Jag Rycker Dej I Svansen
B2 Hon Och Han
B3 Jönsson Med Lien
B4 En Ton För Ett Don
B5 Mr. Byråkrat
B6 Djupt Till Roten
All songs and lyrics: Mikael Ramel
Mikael Ramel Band
1~5 recorded in May 1975 by Mikael Ramel Musikband and guest musicians.
Mikael Ramel & Splash
5~10 recorded in Villa Splash, Söderhamn, April 1978 with Splash.
Tomas Jutterström: keyboards / Kenny Håkansson: guitar
Bruno Råberg: bass / Bosse Skoglund: drums
Bengt Dalén: guitar / Tony Ellis: organ, guitar / Bill Ohrstrom: congas
Leif Halldén: trumpet, flugelhorn / Lennart Löfgren: bass trombone
Torbjörn Carlsson: tenor sax, flute, oboe
Christer Holm: baritone saxophone, clarinet, bassoon
Christer Jansson: guitar / Kay Söderström: bass / Hempo Hillden: drums
Sonet SLP – 2650