CRACK IN THE COSMIC EGG:
Message are one of those enigmas of Krautrock, in that their origins are not only from Germany originally, but also from Britain. And, it's a strange and complex story! Scotsman Tommy McGuigan and Allan Murdoch (not a Scots, but from the Isle Of Wight) first got together in 1962 in the Scottish rock 'n' roll band The Waysiders. After they split, in 1965, Allan returned to England playing in many bands, eventually ending up in the band MI5 with Taff Freeman. Due to lack of media interest in England, MI5 moved base to Germany in 1967 and eventually became Nektar. Meanwhile German bassist Horst Stachelhaus had formed Message in September 1968 and the two bands became close friends. Allan Murdoch joined Message and invited his old friend Tommy to join too (who seemingly also brought along Billy Tabbert), and thus Message as a 60%-British 40%-German band was formed.
Akin to Nektar in many ways, but fronted by Tom's unique singing and fiery sax playing, Message combined the best of British heavy and progressive styles with Krautrock innovation. Firmly in the definitive Bacillus rock style (with that unique Dieter Dierks sound), their debut showed an innovative progressive band at work, not afraid to take chances. As such, their LP debut THE DAWN ANEW IS COMIN' is excellent, though, it took until the second album for Message to reveal their full potential. Even without a second guitarist and running-in a new drummer, part of the key to FROM BOOKS AND DREAMS success was Dieter Dierks' enthusiasm, phenomenal production and vivid recording. Yes, right through it's an album of astonishing creativity, menacing and intensely powerful, with bizarre surreal dream image lyrics and all sorts of surprising twists in the music. As often is the case with inventive bands, the Message roster was never stable. Again, a change of drummer saw a change of focus, Manfred von Bohr was a much travelled jazz-rocker, and both that factor and that they were now with a major record label saw the Message sound mellow considerably, with the accent on more conventional songs, and so I suppose the eponymous third album was a kind of new-start. With a little more confidence, another peak was reached with more jazzy invention on SYNAPSE. But, as the story goes, disaster struck, as next Message signed up to Brain, but scarcely after their appearance at the first Brain Festival, the group fell apart, and Tom McGuigan hasn't been heard of since!
So, now we have the story of Message #2! It was left to Allan Murdoch to get a new band together: the first try recorded the appalling USING THE HEAD, an incarnation that thankfully disbanded promptly; the second try was an even shorter-lived incarnation with Anne Haigis on vocals as documented on the second Brain Festival album; for the third try a whole new band were drafted in again and managed to make two albums. Marginally interesting, ASTRAL JOURNEYS captured a little of the old magic, but in a new more commercial mellow progressive style, but MILES OF SMILES amounted to little more than boring
Anglo-American styled rock.
Anglo-American styled rock.
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