Tuesday 16 December 2014

Kurt Memo's Captain Thunder from 1977, lossless upgrade

Remember this gorgeous little gem of pop-prog?  Way back in 2010 I posted an mp3 of it, and Memo himself said hi in the comments section, thanking us for the kind words.

I think we all have the softest spot in our hearts for the music of our childhood. Well this album takes me right back to those bell bottom long collared days of the seventies before environmental disaster, resource depletion, overshoot and collapse, when the future was so bright with hope, utopia was sure to come in our lifetimes, and permanently, and we were soon going to colonize the nearest stars and galaxies... Boy did we ever blow it! Look at us now! But like the great gatsby, the dream was never really possible at all, it was all just an illusion.

This album is one-man-band production by german Memo Kurt, about whom I can't find much information at all. If he ever reads this, I would tell him I love him, I'd bow before him and kiss his hand for this one. Overall sound and production remind me of Hudson Bros, for those who know them, who did 'So you are a star'. Actually, several tracks are reminiscent of Rhino's Have a nice day Comp, but the songs are as enjoyable as those number one hits, I dare anyone not to sing along after a couple of listens. The hooks are ingenious! 'Gone to another' (which once again reminds me of 10cc's I'm not in love, it seems a lot of songs do) starts with a 'got to get you into my life' octave-reaching melody, then moves into an interesting whole tone down chord progression (i.e. A - G - F). Check out the synthesized voices in the background... This takes me right back to the lost world of my childhood, when in my backyard I could collect a dozen toads in an afternoon, then go to the pond a block away and catch a bucketful of huge bullfrogs, fish for catfish, bring them all home, and forget about them overnight, thereby horrifying my mom in the morning when she found them all dead... At our school on weekends we would catch monarchs and cicadas, or collect their caterpillars and feed them milkweed all summer, some died, but most of them survived to go on to their continental migration... My children will never experience this, and it makes me sad. This music also fills me with the sadness of loss. For a lot of reasons. For one thing, the craftsmanship is something that is not going to be heard anytime soon on radio. Moreover appreciation for it is lost, few people can enjoy this kind of music. It's not like literature, where a consensus is established for what great writers have emerged and have stood the test of time. In music, the test of time is so easy, it's something a three-year-old can pass. Adults fail it. It's like a stalinist regime, where any sign of intelligence or creativity will doom a person to an early disappearance. What is doubly sad about the paradise lost is that, as Jane Jacobs once said (regarding cities), we have lost not just the old world, but the memory of what it was like. So that we don't realize we are actually living in a diminished, deteriorated world. In descriptions of the new world when it was 'discovered' by Europeans in the 15-16th centuries they describe rivers so full of sturgeons or salmon you could reach in and grab them, a caribbean so full of manatees and sea turtles it was difficult for ships to pass through sometimes, something like 50 million bison populated the great plains, which humans reduced down to 200. Passenger Pigeons were thought to be the most numerous animal on the planet at possibly 100 billion, they're all gone now. So the full, entrancing world I remembered from childhood was already a diminished world.

A couple of songs have that diatonic major seventh sound so typical of the era (think 'songbird' (streisand not fleetwood mac)), 'Blind man' starts in C major then moves up to D flat major through ingenious use of A flat suspended, then amazingly the song returns back down in the bridge. 'Happy song' is like that eskimo or whatever pop song played so much on AM radio. Captain Thunder the title track is just pure lush pop bliss.
I hear,
"I'm gonna be tokin', I'm gonna be laughin' like columbus when he found the world was round....
"I'm gonna be flyin' with the people who put magic in the air...
"I'm gonna be sittin with Gagarin as he orbits round the world...
I'm captain thunder, from the seventh sun, and I get around...
Ah!! oh! those seventies lyrics again! They should be included in the next time capsule, for when the future was so full of hope (and petroleum). Or as my wife always puts it, regarding my 70s utopia, "they were all high. That's all."
Even if you don't have a taste for this style, pay attention to the last song. It's well worth the price of admission, as they say, an incredibly orchestral synth block plays a dramatic riff like greek Axis' second album's first song. Then some nifty synth solos are executed over energetic funkishness. It closes with a sung passage with mello-flute.

The cover again is an amazing painting. (Artwork By - Ulf Krüger)

In the comments section we see Memo address the review:

Hallo Stefan,
it's me, Memo Kurt :) Thank you very much for your comment on Captain Thunder that I just found, it is very much appreciated.
If you want to, you can contact me anytime.

Another fan implores him for info:

 Anonymous said... 
Memo, we have been looking for you for quite some time. We have only heard "Piano Bar". What ELSE are we missing? We consider you a musical genius. 

But Memo is silent...
Let the music speak for itself!!


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