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Articles Home » 1978 Articles » Stern-Combo Meissen - 1978 Weisse's Gold
Stern-Combo Meissen - 1978 Weisse's Gold

ARTIST: Stern Combo Meissen
ALBUM: Weisse's Gold
LABEL: Amiga
SERIAL: 855636
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 2002, Unioton (BMG Berlin)


LINEUP: Reinhart Fissler - lead vocals * Martin Schreier - lead guitar * Thomas Kurzhals - keyboards * Lothar Kramer - keyboards, vocals * Bernd Fiedler - bass * Werther Lohse - drums, lead vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Overture * 02 Der Traum * 03 Des Goldes Bann * 04 Der Goldmacher * 05 Die Flucht * 06 Zweifel * 07 Die Erkenntnis * 08 Weisses Gold

WEBLINKS: www.stern-combo-meissen.com

Think of East Germany during the Cold War and images of gray dilapidated cities, secret police in black leather trench coats and people shot while crawling through barb wire trying to reach the Berlin Wall often come to mind, but there was another side to life behind the 'Iron Curtain' that began to take shape during the 1970's. Painters, musicians and performance artists began to pull away from socialist propaganda and develop more modernist works of art while the DDR government turned a blind eye. A sign of things to come perhaps, but with this new freedom came a number of progressive rock bands signed to the state run 'Amiga' label, but influenced by Yes, Pink Floyd and ELP whose albums had often made their way into the black market. Few in the West knew of Electra, City, Berluc, Magdeburg, Lift or Karat, but for East German's - they were the real deal. Stern-Combo Meissen was one of the most popular bands of this movement. The group formed as a beat band in the early '60s and in 1971 became known for their adaptations of classical works from Mussorgski to Vivaldi played in a similar style to ELP. Selling a respectable amount of albums and earning the ability to headline the countries major theaters and concert halls; the band were a hot commodity and are still around today, although a mere shadow of their former greatness.

The Songs
'Weisses Gold' conceptually tells the tale of German alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottgert. Apparently Johann was the inventor of European Porcelain, but his real passion was seeking a way to turn common metals into Gold. Neat idea that of course never materialized, but I'll be damned if I can tell you how close 'Weisses Gold' sticks to historic fact since the vocals, often spoken, are in German. Normally, this is a major bugaboo for this reviewer, but here I can get over it since the album overall is moody and dark in a typically Germanic way with a stifling production commonly found on records from the DDR. Atmosphere over substance and clearly ELP was a major influence on this album. As expected West German bands Tangerine Dream, Eloy and Novalis also made their mark on the Stern-Combo Miessen sound which combines both the spacey on 'Der Traum' and classical on the title track and a whole lot of prog goodness in-between.

In Summary
Like their Western progressive counterparts, the '80s were not as kind to Stern-Combo Meissen and the band changed with the times, moving into AOR territory with 1987's 'Nachte' which was a good effort, but nothing as wondrous as the early albums. The group's entire catalog has been reissued on CD and worth looking into, especially 'Weisses Gold' which is easily one of the best albums to come out of the East German scene.

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This article has been tagged
#1 | swazi on June 05 2012 22:48:50
Interesting review! Although being German I have never heard of this band.
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