Sunday, April 11, 2010
Music Review: Moses - Changes
Moses were a heavy-duty power trio from Denmark, who released their lone LP, Changes, in 1971. It is another incredibly obscure period piece unearthed by the great German reissue label Shadoks, who will release the CD version of it later this week. The recently written liner notes describe Moses’ music as “Best appreciated in a hall filled with the smell of fun-tobacco.” No argument here, their blend of influences is a stoner’s delight: Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, and Grand Funk Railroad are just the most obvious ones.
The opening title cut, “Changes,” begins as an almost direct lift from Black Sabbath’s “The Wizard.” It quickly falls into a deep blues groove, however, with a tale of woe about the singer killing his wife and spending ten years in jail. Guitarist Soren Hojbjerg channels Clapton’s “Crossroads” solo to great effect midway through.
The blooze continues with “I’m Coming Home.” Bassist Jorgen Villadsen keeps things steady with a bassline recalling Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times.” Evidently the “fun tobacco” in Denmark was not all that fun, as this is a lament about a returning Vietnam vet. Hojbjerg’s psychedelic guitar solos are the highlights of this seven-minute tune.
No matter how many times the band cite legends such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix as primary inspirations, it was really Blue Cheer. “Everything Is Changed” is Moses’ version of the Cheer doing Eddie Cochrane’s “Summertime Blues.” The fuzzed-out guitar solos are perfect, as is the vocalist’s exhortation to “Dig it!” at the end of the track.
Side two of the original LP began with the instrumental “Beginning.” This tune is based on a riff similar to that of the Spencer Davis Group's “I’m A Man” (written by Steve Winwood), and gives the full band ample room to stretch out. There is even an abbreviated drum solo from Henrik Laurvig.
The lyrics of “Skaev” are all in Danish, so I have no idea what Moses are talking about. But it really doesn’t matter; the powerhouse blues overwhelms everything anyway. Again, the heavy psychedelic guitar solos are outstanding.
Finally, we come to “Warning,” a cautionary tale that was obviously very personal to lyricist Henrik Laurvig. In 1967, the band Steppeulvene released the very first rock album with Danish lyrics, titled Hip. Its effect was profoundly inspirational to the musical community of Denmark, including the soon-to-be members of Moses. But the life of a (relatively) successful hippie rock star was not all that it seemed to be. After being busted for pot, Steppeulvene’s singer Eik Skaloe set out on the so-called “hippie trail,“ with the ultimate destination of Nepal. He was found outside of the Indian border town Ferozepore in October 1968, dead of an intentional overdose.
“Warning” recalls the sledgehammer version of “Inside Looking Out” by Grand Funk Railroad more than anything else. It is a basic blues, with some serious guitar interludes. But the focus is squarely on the lyrics, and the sad story of a life wasted.
Original copies of Changes trade hands in collector’s circles for big bucks these days. Fortunately, those of us who are just merely curious about such an obscure album now have a chance to check it out at a reasonable price. Fans of late-sixties and early-seventies garage/psyche/hard rock should look into this one. It definitely rocks.