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Twenty Sixty Six And Then

DPRP's writers dives into their collections of forgotten albums and bands that deserve a little more attention.

These are not full-blown band histories and often just short album reviews, but we bet some of these artists here will end up having an article in our Forgotten Sons series one day.

Jerry van Kooten

For this instalment of the Collectors Corner we have only one album instead of the regular 4. That is because I'm going to dive a bit deeper into the details of the recordings, re-issues, and bonus tracks.

This article is about the German band with the weird name Twenty Sixty Six And Then (adding a 1000 to the year of the Battle of Hastings), who released their only album in late 1971. To me, the band belongs the list of bands that released only a single but yet impressive and therefore important album that has stood the test of time.

Lack of commercial success led to the disbanding of Twenty Sixty Six just 18 months after the band started.

The original album was released on United Artists Records, not a small label. After the band broke up, United Artists were no longer interested, naturally. Several versions we re-issued by other labels, most notably Second Battle, offering a different combination of bonus tracks from a few unreleased sessions, which I'll talk about after the review.

Twenty Sixty Six And Then — Reflections On The Future

Germany
1971
40:58
Twenty Sixty Six And Then - Reflections On The Future
At My Home (5:07), Autumn (9:14), Butterking (7:22), Reflections On The Future (15:53), How Would You Feel (3:22)
9
Jerry van Kooten

The band consists of Geff Harrison on lead vocals / lyrics (a Brit who moved to Germany), Gagey Mrozcek - guitar, Dieter Bauer - bass, Konstantin Bommarius - drums, and Veit Marvos and Steve Robinson (real name Rainer Geyer) sharing duties on piano, keyboards, Mellotron, vibraphone, and Hammond organ. Guest on the album are Wolfgang Schönbrot on flute.

The original album was recorded in the Autumn of 1971 at the now famous Dieter Dierks Studio and released later that same year.

The musical style has a bluesy hard-rock foundation found in bands like Canned Heat, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. But several elements made this band unique. First, they were slightly more progressive, bringing memories of Badger (the One Live Badger album) especially on the opening track.

Although Schönbrot is only a guest, the flute has a prominent role in a few places, making me think of early Jethro Tull and even Golden Earring. By the way, Schönbrot is not credited on the album. He is credited to be part of a session that happened shortly before the album recordings, and since any other documentation is missing, I can only assume it was him on the album as well, but nothing is certain.

Then there is a jazz element that pops up here and there, making for very unexpected turns, and yes, a freaky solo section in the title track as well that does not really work for me. The two keyboard players bring a great variety to the sound. Although you might think that having two Hammond organs play there it will be hard to hear the different, but I mean that mostly for the composition and cleverly mixed double soloing.

And finally the rough, bluesy and soulful voice of Geff Harrison stands out.

The songs feel complex but not forced, the band play tight, and there is lots of space for soloing. The combination of styles turned this into something unique.

The mix is something not uncommon at the time: in several places there is an almost complete separation of guitar and keyboards in the channels. That works perfectly when playing melodies together, but during a long guitar solo, a slightly more centre mix would probably be preferred by most people today. When both keyboard players play a leading role, the separation is of course an excellent feature.

Except for a few freaky minutes (too much jazz to my taste) in the title tracks, this is an excellent album that deserves way more attention than it did.


Recordings

Subsequent re-issues of the album through the years had various bonus tracks, and have made the history chequered, to say the least.

Reflections On The Future LP, Artists Records UAS 29 314

The original album was released in late 1971 or early 1972 by United Artists Records (UAS 29 314). It was reissued for the first time in 1989 by Second Battle, on LP only (SB 001). Although this label did music lovers a great service with this release, further steps were both adding excitement and starting the confusion.

Excitement in 1991, when Second Battle released a three-sided 2LP in 1991 under the title Reflections On The Past (SBT 001), with eight previously unreleased recordings. (Some were different versions of songs that were on the album.) This one contains 3 tracks from a May 1971 session, here called "studio session" (tracks 6, 7, and 8), 3 tracks from a 1971-06-24 session in Frankfurt (the first three tracks), and 2 tracks from a March 1972 session in Munich (tracks 4 and 5: two shorter tracks, possibly for an intended single release).

The cover is in the style of the album cover, and even has the guy with the big nose as part of it, but it's not the same class. It's rather ugly if you ask me. It is credited to Günter Karl, who was also credited for the artwork of the original album. Did he really do this second artwork as well or is it just a credit because he did the original album and parts of it were used?

Reflections On The Past LP, Second Battle SBT 001

Then they released a compilation album called Reflections! (SB 025) that has three tracks from the original album and five tracks from the other one. But they forgot to tell which version was which, which with several tracks being available in different versions was just confusing. Also using the same cover as the original album was not a good idea, especially since the title Reflections! is not on the front cover.

I found a CD that has the words "second edition" printed on the back, but no information is given on whether there are any changes compared to the first edition. (I can only assume it's just the second pressing, as it seems to be housed in the same type of three-pane digipak, but I cannot be sure.)

Here, the credits are plain sloppy. For the first 6 tracks, the credits read "Studio Bauer, Frankfurt or elsewhere". Now that is just laziness. For the last two tracks it's nothing more than "München". The third line "Digitally remastered 1989" is confusing as well: does that apply to the last two tracks only or to the whole CD? The credits were fine on the Reflections On The Past album so why not here?

Finally, Second Battle released a 2LP version in 2008 (SB 068), with the first record comprising the original album, and the second record containing three live tracks recorded in 2002 during a reunion (more previously unreleased material!), and two tracks from the May 1971 session (now called "outtake 1971").

Reflections! CD, Second Battle SB 025

But it was not just Second Battle. In 2017, a 2CD version was released by German label MIG. This format was picked up by several other record labels and is therefore the easiest to get. You get the original album, the Frankfurt session (suddenly these tracks have the addition "Studio Live Version"), the Munich session, and two tracks from the May 1971 outtakes, although these are now credited as "demo 1970", adding more confusion (which is correct?!). This album also includes a track by Steve Robinson recorded after the band folded, presumably 1973. So the 2LP has three live tracks that are not on the 2CD, and the 2CD has the Frankfurt and Munich sessions and the Steve Robinson track that are not on the 2LP.

Reflections On The Future 2CD, MIG 01842

I got a little confused.

Now the following section might be interesting only for collectors and completists, but I wanted to do this for myself so why not share it as well. I tried to list all recordings that are out there chronologically, and where to find them. Track durations may vary a couple of seconds based on timing (from vinyl) or CD mastering.

There are several releases out there of the same material, but that does not mean they sound the same. I was able to track down a number of versions to compare. The United Artists and Second Battle versions sound very good, but my advice is to ignore the Missing Vinyl 2LP and MIG 2CD.

The Missing Vinyl release has some unnecessary (at least to my ears) compression. Additionally, it also runs too fast. The MIG release has a lot of compression on some of the tracks, making it just loud and losing contrast. I have not been able to find a copy of the Belle Antique release (2CD, 2017) but my experience with Belle Antique and other Japanese re-issues is that they tend to add compression to the sound as well, so I have a feeling I am not missing out on this one.

Then there are some unofficial releases — mostly the CD versions with varying bonus tracks on the Purple Pyramid (USA), Eclipse Records (Germany), EAV Records pretending to be United Artists Records (Russia) or a pirate of the MIG label (also Russia). There is even an LP bootleg, on the Ear Ass label. I have not even tried to find a copy or even a rip of these.

1971-05-05, studio outtakes

  1. At My Home #1 (9:47)
  2. Winter (7:18)
  3. I Saw The World (4:37)

This session has a much longer version of At My Home, which appeared on the album in a 5-minute version. The quality is not very good. Pretty listenable, especially if you already know you like the music. The volume and mix are fluctuating. It's understandable these tracks were at the end of the Past album (side C), but absolutely required for completeness's sake if you like this band.

Starting off with the rarest of all versions, at the time of writing, this May 1971 version of At My Home is only found on the Reflections On The Past LP (SBT-001: track C1).

The other two tracks are on SBT-001 as well (tracks C2/C3), and can also be found on the 2LP (SB LP 068: tracks D2/D3) and any of the the 2CD versions (MIG: B5/B6). On some releases these are marked as "Demo 1970". I guess we'll never know for sure what the exact recording date was.

From these three songs, At My Home has the biggest problem with the sound quality. It sounds a little more distant than the other two tracks and the tape is fluttering at the start, which is probably the reason it was left off any further re-issues. The song itself is just a very good version of the song with more good soloing than the released album version.

The jazz swing is strong on Winter, there is a minute-long flute solo in the middle, but then the guitar solo takes over taking the track into rock territory, and with the supporting organ sounds it makes it that typical Twenty Sixty Six sound.

I Saw The World is a swinging soulful rock track, quite unlike the rest of the band's material but still sounding like them. Curiously, it fades out during a guitar solo.

The whole session sounds it was recorded in mono. Many labels would not include these recordings on an official release but I am glad that these tracks got an official outing.

1971-06-23, Studio Bauer, Frankfurt, Germany

  1. At My Home #2 (7:54)
  2. The Way That I Feel Today (11:14)
  3. Spring (Duet For Two Hammonds) (13:00)

All of these were released on the Reflections On The Past LP (SBT-001: tracks A1/A2/B1), on the Reflections! compilation CD (SB-025: tracks 1/5/6), and on the 2CD reissue of the album (MIG: tracks A6/B1/B2). MIG marked these "studio live versions" which I guess could be correct but have no way to check and to be honest, I doubt MIG knows it either. (They also marked the May 1971 recordings as "Demo 1970".) The mastering on the CD versions are exactly the same, the LP (harder to compare of course) sounds very much alike, so the problems the 2CD MIG release has with the original album tracks are not present on these bonus tracks.

This is probably the best session the band did, or at least the best recorded. I like these tracks even better than what appeared on the album, which would be recorded not long after. The mix is better, focusing more on the total sound than on a separation of the main melodic instruments. The playing is very inspired, and the instrumental Spring is an excellent composition, much more like a duet (as the subtitle suggests) than a duel (as you might expect from this band) between two Hammond organs. Wonderful swinging playing balancing between soulful rock and jazzy influences.

Autumn 1971: Reflections On The Future Album Recordings

  1. At My Home #3 (5:04)
  2. Autumn (9:04)
  3. Butterking #1 (7:18)
  4. Reflections On The Future (15:47)
  5. How Would You Feel #1 (3:26)

The original album was released on United Artists (UAS 29 314 I), reissued in 1989 on Second Battle (SB-001), and in 2008 as a 2LP (SB LP 068) with the second record containing bonus material. Then later on several CD and 2CD (MIG), with inferior sound. Tracks 2, 3, and 4 were also released on the Reflections! compilation (SB-025: tracks 2/3/4).

Here is where MIG went terribly wrong. The mastering is too loud, with lots of clipping, and way too much compression has been added. To make things worse, it runs too fast. Autumn is 9:04 on the Second Battle LP and CD, and 8:38 on the MIG 2CD. Since Belle Antique released their 2CD in the same year I expect they have the same problems.

The bonus tracks on MIG are roughly the same as on other releases, but for the original album tracks I would recommend you skip the MIG and Belle Antique releases.

All tracks were recorded Autumn 1971, released later that same year or very early 1972.

1972-03, München, Germany

  1. I Wanna Stay (3:56)
  2. Time Can't Take It Away (4:39)

These are easiest to get from the Reflections! compilation CD (SB 025: tracks 7/8) but were also released on the Reflections On The Past LP (SBT-001: tracks B2/B3) and the 2CD version (MIG: tracks B3/B4).

On one of the releases, these tracks are marked as being recording for a possible single release. Considering the duration this makes sense, and being recorded shortly after the album's release also gives that idea some credibility. A single was never released, though.

For some unexplained reason, these tracks have the famous Curt Cress sitting on drums. Of note is that on guest backing vocals on Time Can't Take It Away (and possibly I Wanna Stay as well) is none other than Donna Summer (probably going by her own name Donna Sudano or even birth name LaDonna Adrian Gaines at the time). Mixing some other influences here: Latin groove give this a Santana feel.

Steve Robinson — You Are Under My Skin

  1. You Are Under My Skin (4:34)

This track was released on the all 2CD issue of the album. Apparently Robinson wrote this with the intention of recording it with Twenty Sixty Six, but the band broke up before they could record it. Robinson is singing himself, and has Thomas Klama on guitar. It does really sound like Twenty Sixty Six, but the soulful rock approach is there, and the mixing of jazz structures and psychedelic guitar playing also hints at the band. Robinson has a good voice for this though I am sure Geff Harrison would have made it sound even better. A nice bonus track.

But without any credits and the booklet only saying it was written for Twenty Sixty Six and recorded later, it feels a bit out of place here. It sounds like it was recorded way later than 1973.

Then I found the video below, which has the exact same recording, except that the video starts sooner in the song and fades out sooner as well. So the bonus track is missing a few seconds at the beginning but has a few seconds extra at the end. Interestingly, the credits say it was recorded in 1989, and besides Robinson on vocals, keyboards and bass plus Klama on guitars, it has Robinson's old bandmate Konstantin Bommarius doing the drum programming.

So the track was recorded not sooner than 1989 and released officially elsewhere. To me that makes no sense at all. They had better included the At My Home version from May 1971.

2002-07-06, Gärtnerei Huben, Ladenburg, Germany (live)

  1. Butterking #2 (9:29)
  2. At My Home #4 (13:00)
  3. How Would You Feel #2 (9:19)

To conclude the chronological list, here are three recordings that are also available on one release: the 2LP Second Battle SB LP 068 (tracks C1/C2/D1).

Label of the 2LP version (SB LP 068)

In 2002, Second Battle managed to bring the original musicians back together for a one-off reunion show. It was not recorded officially, but someone made an audience recording that was considered good enough for release. You can hear it was recorded from the audience but it is not distracting. I have no idea whether these 30 minutes was the complete performance. If they ever played more than just these three songs, I hope someone has the tapes and is trying to find a way to release them!

Conclusion

If you've read this far it probably means you're interested in a little more than just the original album. Read the descriptions to decide which versions would probably suit you most. Besides some vinyl, I managed to get high quality digital transfers (24 bits, 96 KHz) of the LPs, including the Past album which is the only release containing At My Home from the May 1971 session.

Twenty Sixty Six And Then, promo photo

Second Battle did great work with compiling the different recordings and basically released everything there is. They got sloppy on the credits after the first release, though. But the mastering was good. MIG on the other hand screwed up the mastering for the original album and were guessing for credits based on no information that can be found anywhere and possibly wrong. (Although the mastering could have been Belle Antique's fault — I cannot see who did the mastering first or how Belle Antique's version sounds.) Missing Vinyl screwed up less than MIG but still added unnecessary compression.

All musicians were active in other musical projects afterwards, or even still are. Just to name a few: Mrozcek and Harrison would form Kin Ping Meh (who are still touring today), Harrison released music under his own name as well. Mrozcek (later spelling his name as Mrozek) also played with Edo Zanki and Herbert Grönemeyer, and started a music shop in Mannheim. Marvos went on to Emergency and released several albums under his own name. Bommarius joined Abacus and was in Karthago for a while. Steve Robinson joined several projects through the years, like Nine Days Wonder but most notably Krautrock / jazz rock band Area, and released a solo album in 1978. Bauer was also in Area (1970s), Jim Kahr Group (late 1970s), and Margo (early 1980s). Bommarius tragically died in a car accident in 2014.


Links

Kin Ping Meh

Konstantin Bommarius remembrance page on Facebook:

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