Friday, April 9, 2010
Music Review: Finjarn & Jensen
Finjarn & Jensen is one of those records that turns up every now and then that was previously thought to be lost to the ages. The lone LP from Svein Finjarn and Leif Jensen was only released in Norway, back in 1970. Leave it to German psychedelic reissue specialists Shadoks to unearth this treasure and make it available on CD for the very first time.
For most of the 1960s, the two had been kicking around separately in various Norwegian combos prior to joining a group called Jumbo. After recording two singles with the band, Finjarn and Jensen decided to split-off and record their eponymous album. The seven songs they laid down in a Scandinavian studio are prime latter day flower-power, with a few hints of psychedelia thrown in for good measure.
The first song, “One More Day” would have been described at the time as “heavy rock.” The tune has something in common with contemporaries such as Ten Years After and Steppenwolf. The guitar solo by Finjarn is a smoker, and recalls the great Leigh Stephens of Blue Cheer.
The hippie vibe takes over in a big way with “Blue And Peaceful,” a thoroughly groovy bit of whimsy. It is a vintage bit of Swinging London, circa 1967. A staple of all respectable late-sixties psych records was the drum solo. Leif Jensen obliges by mercilessly beating the skins on “What Else Can We Do?”
If there were any doubt as to the influences the two shared, it is answered definitively on “Lady Windsor.” Their tribute to British underground music is perfectly conceived. It is done so well in fact, as to come off as almost a parody of something like Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake (1968) from the Small Faces. It is a great cut.
The guys had pretty hip taste back then as well. The one cover song they chose was by “New Day,” by Jackie Lomax. It was the first single released from his lone (excellent) Apple Records recording, Is This What You Want?
As the sixties turned into the seventies, the idea of the extended jam became much more prevalent in music, and the final two cuts on Finjarn & Jensen reflect the trend. “Grey Skies” contains a much longer drum solo than “What Else Can We Do?” had. But it is in the seven and a half minute finale, titled “Sorry Girl, But Now I Know Things Will Be Much Better Now That You’ve Gone.” With this track, it is safe to assume that the haze of hashish smoke blanketing Northern Europe had broached the studio walls. Still, the song is nowhere near as self-indulgent as it could have been. It seems pretty clear that both Finjarn and Jensen had learned a great deal from their previous music business experiences. The track contains a number of solos, but none overstay their welcome. In fact, Finjarn’s guitar playing here is his best on the album.
I will admit that part of the appeal of Finjarn & Jensen is its total obscurity, that is something that just adds to the myth but it is certainly not everything. This is a really good record for fans of that late sixties psychedelic flower-power trip. Although nobody really heard it at the time, Finjarn & Jensen stands up with much of what was released in 1970 and it still sounds good today