Epitaph - Stop, Look and Listen (1972)


"British progressive heavy rock bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Led Zeppelin inspired many young bands in Germany. The Germans usually preferred to use English lyrics, and several bands, like Blackwater Park, 2066 & Then and Epitaph, had British vocalists! Epitaph were founded in Dortmund in 1969, consisting of Cliff Jackson (vocals, guitar), Bernd Kolbe (bass, mellotron, vocals) and Jim McGillivray (drums). The first sessions for their debut album, released 1971 on Polydor, were recorded in an Essex studio in England. For unknown reasons, it was however finished in Windrose Studios, Hamburg, where a fourth member was added to the group: Klaus Walz (guitar, vocals). The five resulting tracks sounded similar to the groups mentioned above, and particularly the earliest incarnation of Uriah Heep. Epitaph's Cliff Jackson didn't attempt to copy Byron's operatic vocal style, though. There were both fast rock'n'roll numbers and slow ballads with mellotron textures, usually in the 'heavy progressive standard song length' - from 5 to 7 minutes.

In 1972, Epitaph recorded their second album, "Stop, Look And Listen" in Audio Tonstudio, Berlin. This album also contained five tracks, stylistically similar to their first offering. Both albums are recommended for fans of the heavy progressive genre. In early 1973, Epitaph released two non-LP singles on the Polydor subsidiary Zebra: "Autumn '71" coupled with "Are You Ready" (2047 003) and "We Love You Alice" coupled with "Paradise For Sale" (2047 005)."


"Epitaph were one of those early-'70s German hard rock acts who often get lumped in with the prog bands of the day (see: Birthcontrol, Jane), whilst not actually being anything of the sort. Like many of their European contemporaries (Norway's Titanic and Germans Message and Lucifer's Friend spring to mind), Epitaph recruited an English-speaking singer, Cliff Jackson in this case, giving them a far more acceptable sound to British/American ears. Well, in theory, anyway; the actuality was that while those bands did well in their native markets, none really broke out properly into the international arena. I can't imagine how galling it must have been to see the all-German Scorpions break worldwide by the end of the decade...

Anyway, Epitaph is a perfectly competent album, very much of its time, which translates as 'rather dated'. Opener Moving To The Country is a good, upbeat boogie sort of thing, but the rest of the album shifts into mid-paced territory, with a few too many country-rock influences for its own good (Little Maggie is a particular offender in this area). Lengthy closer Early Morning has a nice jamming feel to it, but ultimately fails to excite, to be honest. There's only one track here containing the mighty 'Tron; Visions, the album's ballad, is swamped with lush strings played by bassist Bernd Kolbe, and is a pretty nice example of the genre without being particularly outstanding. The CD reissue has several bonus tracks, including a single edit of the track used as a b-side, which doesn't really enhance the album overall, but it's nice that Repertoire saw fit to include all the band's output from the period.

They followed up with Stop, Look and Listen which, again, finishes with the album's best track, the lengthy, jamming Stop, Look And Listen itself (is there a pattern forming here?). I can find very little to say about the rest of the record; it's so very much of its time that it should probably be sealed in one of those time capsules that were so popular a decade or two back. Preferably every copy." (buy it)


Epitaph - Paradise For Sale


Anonymous said...

One more fantastic post. Great !
Many thanks.

proplox said...

Wow, I had almost forgotten about this great album, a real underrated German HR gem! Too bad some other discs from that country get most of the undeserved praise, this one smokes completely! Thanks for reminding me how good this is! I owe you a beer!

Anonymous said...

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Thanks alot
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Pagost said...

Could you re-upload Writing on the Wall,Pi Corp?
Many thanks.