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Epitaph - 1979 Return To Reality



ARTIST: Epitaph
ALBUM: Return To Reality
LABEL: Brain
SERIAL: 0060.185
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2008, SPV, 42382 (with bonus track)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Cliff Jackson - lead guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals * Heinz Glass - guitar, vocals * Michael Karch - keyboards, vocals * Fritz Randow - drums * Harvey Janssen - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Set Your Spirit Free * 02 Strangers * 03 We Can Get Together * 04 Summer Sky * 05 On The Road * 06 Return To Reality * 07 Spread Your Wings * 08 Return To Reality (Live)

WEBLINKS: www.epitaph-band.de


Background
A 1974 American visit put an end to krautrocker's Epitaph when their label- Billingsgate went belly-up midway through the ill fated tour leaving the band with nothing other than their return tickets. Bad break considering how many German bands failed to make a dent commercially in the lower 48 (Amon Duul anyone?) and Epitaph's jammy progressive blues rock actually had some potential but it was not to be. Dead in the water, group leader Cliff Jackson went on a Far East sabbatical with the remaining members falling away one by one. Eventual returning to Germany, Jackson pulled together a new version of Epitaph for gigs and a national television appearance. Fresh to the band and ready to rock were former Eloy members Fritz Randow and Harvey Janssen which was enough for Epitaph to be offered a support slot with Hungarian heavies Omega on a bill that also included up and coming Swiss rockers Krokus. The tour and new material impressed Brain Records enough to offer the band a deal with 'Return To Reality' the first of three releases on the label.


The Songs
When all was said and done, a funky dragon-winged bat and pert boobies on the cover art set the stage for some fairly typical Teutonic hard rock. Gone are the dirge-like blues rock influences in favor of straight ahead arena rocking Rainbow and Uriah Heep heavy prog. The classically based keyboards of Michael Karch give the band a dramatic sweep not heard on previous albums and the first two cuts 'Set Your Spirit Free' and 'Strangers' are more than acceptable although the schmaltzy chicka-chicka back-beat of 'We Can Get Together' finds me reaching for the 'skip' button with no time to spare. The band comes back to their proggy senses with the mind-expanding 'Summer Sky' and the organ grinding Rainbow influenced 'On The Road' and along with the riffy sleaze of 'Spread Your Wings' these two are the cream of the crop. The problem, if there is one, nothing here sounds that exciting with an annoying sameness to much of the material, some of which goes on just a little too long. With that said, in the end I'll take this over many of the much-lauded Krautrock 'classics' anytime day or night.


In Summary
Concerts with Electric Sun and Accept and a follow-up album, the likable 'See You In Alaska' kept Epitaph busy well into 1980 with 'Live' hitting store shelves a year later. A change of label - Rockport (Octopus, Second Movement, Sioux) and 'Danger Man' took Epitaph to a new level with a heavier sound. Much preferable to the group's early '70s albums, these four releases are worth hearing, although only 'Return To Reality' is currently available on disc and includes a live version of the title track.


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