Haboob’s eponymous album (from the Arabic word for desert storm, sandstorm), which was released on the HörZu (German mass-market TV-magazine) Black Label in 1971, turned out to be the kick-off for organist James (Jimmy) Jacksons’s independent career. Both Jackson and his two co-musicians, drummer George Green and guitarist William Powell, were American citizens, who – owing to the US army (Jackson was a sergeant) – had wound up in Germany and eventually- thanks to the music – ended up in Munich. Jackson had already earned some fame playing with Tangerine Dream (Electronic Meditation), Amon Düül II (Tanz der Lemminge), Doldinger’s Motherhood and Embryo (Embryo’s Rache). Amon Düül II’s producer and saxophonist Olaf Kübler took Jackson under his wings, planning to promote him as an independent artist. Before his guest appearances, Jackson had done the usual “get on up and dance” performances in Munich’s hip Tabarin club, where George Green and William Powell used to perform together with Lothar Meid (bassist, Amon Düül II). This is how, in the end of the 1970ies, three Americans got together in Munich as Haboob. Producer Kübler booked the Bavaria studio in Munich, and Peter Kramper, who operated the controls in some of Amon Düül II’s albums, was the sound engineer. The album was recorded in just 5 days in late March/ early April 1971.
The titles recorded were the result of downright improvisation, the musicians were giving their very best, turning their inside out, so to speak, aided by substances whose effect did not show until taken.
Haboob’s music is a unique trip consisting of psychedelic rock, avant-garde, Hendrix inspired blues, blues rock and psychedelic funk rock. Or, as David Wayne (new Gibraltar encyclopaedia of progressive rock) has it: a mixture of Amon Düül II and early Funkadelic, or the Chambers Brothers ( maybe even Sly Stone), but without their extensive excursions on the guitar.
One reason for the album’s popularity among experts is that Jackson not only played the usual organ, but was one of very few musicians at the time who were able to play the so called choir-organ. He was even one of the first musicians at all to tackle this instrument, which had been invented by a Munich sound engineer. The choir-organ was similar to the mellotron. Pre-recorded audio tape pieces with sounds and choirs were started via a keyboard. Jackson had already played this instrument on the Amon Düül II album “Tanz der Lemminge”, and later on also on “Wolf City”. Florian Fricke (Popol Vuh), too, had become familiar with this unique instrument via contacts to Amon Düül II , whom he had provided with his Moog for “Wolf City”. Later on he would use it in several soundtracks for films of director Werner Herzog (e.g. Aguirre I, Aguirre II).
So what happened to Jimmy Jackson and Haboob?
Plans to establish Jackson as an independent artist had failed. In spite of being promoted by the HörZu Label (quite unthinkable today – imagine a mass-market TV-magazine promoting such a particular music style) Haboob’s music proved unfit for a mass-market and turned out a financial flop. It was a soap bubble that quickly burst once exposed to the harsh reality of the music business, in spite of the goodwill displayed by all parties involved. Jackson, who was undoubtedly an extremely accomplished organist in many music areas, kept performing as a guest musician for Amon Düül II (“Wolf City”, “Lemmingmania”), Embryo (“Embryo’s Rache”, “Steig aus”, “Rock Session”), Utopia, Doldinger’s Passport etc. In 1971 he recorded the album “The Call”, together with Mal Waldron (elec. Piano), Eberhard Weber (bass, cello), Fred Braceful (drums), on the renowned jazz label ECM.
In the 1980ies he played for Marius Müller Westernhagen on his album “Stinker”, released in 1981, and toured with him on the tour of the same name. Afterwards, Westernhagen commented that English musicians were cheaper to work with, and this was the end of Jackson’s engagement. In spite of thorough research we have not been able to come across further musical activities worth mentioning.
Equally little is known about the further careers of guitarist William Powell and drummer George Green. Powell played on the album “Stormy Monday” by saxophonist Eddie Taylor (also featuring Lothar Meid, among others). He has passed away since. Green stayed true to the Munich music scene (Utopia) and played together with jazz guitarist Titus Waldenfels (who toured with Embryo from September ’94-September ’95).
What remains is an impressive album reflecting the Zeitgeist of the early 70ies and its eagerness to make new experiments- not only with regard to music.
We particularly would like to thank Olaf Kübler, who has contributed significantly to the re-release of the
Translation: Dr. Martina Häusler
Manfred Steinheuer, February 2009
BLUES FOR WILLI PEE
KEEP ON PUSHING
TIME TO BE