Following the release of Blast Furnace (LHC 10) this is the 2nd CD in the Long Hair series with Danish progressive music: The eponymous album of highly recommended Rainbow Band.
The history of the band told by Bent Hesselmann (saxophone and flute):
"Rainbow Band was formed in the spring of 1970 by the cream of Danish musicians. Lars Bisgaard (vocal) and Bent Hesselmann (reeds) came from The Maxwells. Peer Frost Johansson (guitars) from The Young Flowers, Carsten Smedegaard (drums) from The Beefeaters and Niels Brønsted (Piano) and Bo Stief (basses) from the jazz scene around the Montmartre Jazzclub (Copenhagen). First concert took place on June 23rd 1970 together with It's a Beautiful Day and Santana. First LP recorded in July and August and released in December as Rainbow Band.
In January 1971 Bisgaard was replaced with Allan Mortensen and the vocal parts and to some extend the instrumental side of the music were re-recorded and once again released as Rainbow Band. The following changes were made: 1) "King Of The Sun", "Where Are You Going To Be" and "Living On The Hill" were re-recorded. 2) "Where Do You Live" acquired new lyrics by Allan Mortensen and was re-recorded as "Talking". Mortensen also wrote the only new track "Sippin' Wine". 3) Nobody and "B. M." were re-mixed and, for inexplicable reasons, split from each other. The old vocal tracks were also replaced. In the autumn of 1971 the band was forced to change it's name, due to an offer from Jack Holzman of Elektra Records, an offer we couldn't resist !! We then choosed to call us Midnight Sun as we now were released worldwide on MCA Records. In summer 1972 we recorded a single "Nickles and Dimes" / "King of the Sun". In February 1972 Mortensen left the band and was replaced by Frank Lauritsen, who jumped into the recording studio as we recorded the album "Walking Circles" as Midnight Sun.
In the summer 1972 Jens Elbøl replaced Bo Stief on bass. With this set-up we played for more than two years and recorded "Midnight Dream" (LP) October-December 1973. In February 1974 the last recording of the band took place: A single with "Before You Know"/ "Can You Hear the Music Play?" We played our last gig in November 1974.
At that time we had played about 450 concerts in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Holland. One might say, that we destroyed our band by playing so many concerts, but at that time the idea of planning recordings in relation to marketing and concerts had not really emerged in Scandinavia, and besides that fact... we all needed the money from the weekly jobs desperately!!!"
Nowadays Bent Hesselmann is still active as a musician and composer.
It's incredible that the band and their LP were not only positively received in the music press but also loved by the
Richard Williams, British fan and critic wrote in Melody Maker, 1971:
"Denmark has not, in the past, exactly been noted for the excellence of its contribution to rock and roll. Like most of the Western European countries, its young musicians have, more or less, been imitators and diluters, and never innovators.
Not so, now. About 18 months ago something began to stir in this ancient and beautiful land, centred around a few bands in Copenhagen. A handful of young musicians, many of whom had received their grounding in the new forms of jazz, began to look at rock with an inquisitive eye, perceiving that they could use certain of its properties - its energy, its electricity, its capacity to convey verbal messages - to their advantage. Burnin' Red Ivanhoe (about whom I hope you already know) and the underrated Pan were the first: Midnight Sun are led by a former avant-garde jazz musician: Niels Brønsted, a superb pianist whose name I first saw on the initial release of the late tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler, back in the mid-Sixties. Brønsted and bassist Bo Stief spent many years paying their dues by backing American musicians at Copenhagen's famous Café Montmartre, then the Continent's greatest haven for jazz.
Peer Frost has been voted Denmark's best guitarist for the past tree years, while Casten Smedegaard began his career as drummer with Denmark's first pop group, the Beathovens (ouch!).
Bent Hesselmann is a gifted saxophonist and flutist, whose playing is used intelligently for colouration and emphasis, and singer Allan Mortensen is the latest addition, joining at the end of last year to replace Lars Bisgaard. Since joining, Allan has composed "Sippin' Wine" for this album, and added new words to the line of Brønsted's "Talking".
The first time I heard this album, I was immediately seduced by its sense of freshness and space. The styles of playing are superficially little different from those of their brothers in Britain and America, but I find the atmosphere of this music wholly more relaxed and open. Listen, for instance, to the fantastic understated riff on which "Talking" is built, or to the rhythmic computations of the instruments on "Nobody", or to the beautiful use of Bo's string bass, thrumming and sliding on "B.M.". The long "Living On The Hill" is a veritable catalogue of beautiful musicianship: indeed, if I had to find a parallel, I'd say that Midnight Sun are probably closest to the British group Yes in terms of taste and technique, although the Danes' inventiveness is fresher. They're certainly the equals of anymore in this sphere, and Frost is one of the best rock guitarists I've ever heard, partly because he does not depend on stringing together ancient licks. All told, I'd have to say that this album is further evidence of a very welcome invasion: unlike the Picts and Celts of an earlier time, we should welcome them heartily, and ignore them at our peril."
Special thanks to Bent Hesselmann for his great support.
Manfred Steinheuer, Januar 2003
KING OF THE SUN
WHERE ARE YOU
GOING TO BE
LIVING ON THE
KING OF THE
YOU GOING TO BE