Alcatraz: Vampire State Building – The uncompromising devotion to Prog/Kraut Rock goes Jazz.


I LOVe this album!

What do I tell you?  This is what happens when Krautrock meets Jazz in a little studio in Hamberg where Deep Purple and Queen are soaked into the walls. Apparently, that’s not half untrue, as originally this band were doing covers of Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep.  the moved toward a feel of Soft Machine like jazz avant-garde and then decided to compose their own music combining the jazz with the rock elements. On the album itself, they say  the band mixed music fragments of Cannonball Adderley with influences of Deep Purple. I think you can hear this in the way they combine the jazz with the raw guitar.

“Simple Headphone Mind” opens with drums which are joined by piano,bass and flute.This is classic jazz ,it sounds so good.Then after 2 minutes the guitar comes in changing the mood completely.This is just as good only different. These contrasts continue.The tasteful guitar 5 1/2 minutes in reminds me of Santana,sax follows.  Bongos come in late.

This is a band that didn’t want to compromise on the quality of the music by trading vision for potential success and pandering to what studios etc were asking them of.  This is detailed in the lyric of the second track. I love the use of electronic organ sounds at around 3.50.  The drums and guitar sound great early then sax joins in around a minute replacing the guitar. Incredible sound here. The guitar is back lighting it up 2 1/2 minutes in to the end.

“Where the wild things are”, is a return to the pure jazz sound we had in the first track…

… then the disc launches into “Vampire State Building”  which has a good beat as sax joins in. Nice bass and drum work before 1 1/2 minutes. Guitar arrives a minute later. Drum solo 3 minutes in. Piano after 4 minutes with a different soundscape. It turns psychedelic with flute 6 1/2 minutes in. Jazzy a minute later with guitar and flute as vocals also join in.The tempo picks up 12 minutes in, then sax joins in. take a listen below:

How good was that?  Am I good to you, or am I good to you?

“Piss Off” is a good title for the “in your face” guitar and drums early on.The sax and flute start to trade solos with the guitar,back and forth with some dissonance as well. This song is a bizarre, curious, fuzzy & druggy jam making a large part to atonal guitar / sax dialogues.

And there you have it!

Vampire State Building is a killer release from 70’s Germany underground.  This band delivers a freaked out-thrust of fuzzed-groove improvs that revolve around – if not the heart and soul – then definitely the spirit of jazz.  We have our screaming guitars with the jazz instrumentation.  These are hypnotic freak-rolls with lush riffs, mysterious atmosphere and funky jazz fusion devotion.  It’s a moment in time this brilliant disc, and one that needs to be a part of any fine experimental prog  and or jazz collection.

Totally Lush!

Released in 1971

1. Simple Headphone Mind (10:00)
2. Your Chance Of A Lifetime (5:06)
3. Where The Wild Things Are (3:03)
4. Vampire State Building (13:10)
5. Piss Off (3:18)
6. Change Will Come (6:08)

Rüdiger Berghan – piano, vocals
Klaus Holst – guitar
Klaus Nagurski – flute, tenor saxophone
Ronald Wilson – bass
Jan Rieck – drums, percussion