Abacus


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970-72)

- Christoph Barutsky -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Felix Hans -- drums percussion

- Klaus Kohlhase -- bass

- Hans-Rolf Schade -- guitar, moog, backing vocals

- Chris Williams (RIP 2008) -- vocals, acoustic guitar

 

  line up 2 (1972-73)

- Christoph Barutsky -- keyboards, synthesizers

NEW - Konstantin Bommarius -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Felix Hans)

- Klaus Kohlhase -- bass

- Hans-Rolf Schade -- guitar, moog, backing vocals

- Chris Williams (RIP 2008) -- vocals, acoustic guitar

 

  line up 3 (1973-)

- Christoph Barutsky -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Klaus Kohlhase -- bass

- Hans-Rolf Schade -- guitar, moog, backing vocals

NEW - Allan Warren -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Konstantin Bommarius)

- Chris Williams) -- vocals, acoustic guitar

 

 

 

- 2066 and Then (Konstantin Bommarius)

- Electric Mud (Manfred Heilmann) 

- The Fashions

- Grail (Chris Williams)

- Karthago

- Live

- Time of Commotion (Jurgen Wimpelber)

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Everything You Need

Company: Zebra

Catalog: 2949 002
Year:
 1972

Country/State: Germany / UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: German pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6216

Price: $80.00

 

Produced by Gerd Muller, 1972's "Everything You Need" marked Abacus' third album in a two year period.  The album also reflected the band's first personnel change with former 2066 & Then drummer Konstantin Bommarius replacing Felix Hans.  Against that backdrop it shouldn't have come as a surprise to discover the Abacus creative well starting to run dry.  Those circumstance might also help explain the band's abrupt change in musical direction with tracks like 'Anyway We Can (Song For H.)' and 'Thing We Do' seeing their earlier progressive roots shed in favor of a somewhat unexpected set of pop and country-rock tinged moves.  Mind you, it wasn't like these guys were trying to copy The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Poco, but there was a definite country twang herein.  As on the earlier albums lead singer Chris Williams remained an acquired taste.  For an English guy he sure didn't sound very English to me.  In fact, his vocals frequently sounded pale and weak compared to the rest of the band's energetic performances.  Side two featured a five part, side-long title track suite.  Anyone expecting a return to the band's progressive roots was in for a major disappointment since the suite sounded more like a series of five song fragments haphazardly stitched together.  Of the five segments, only one even came close to have a progressive tinge - 'Paranoia Agency'.  The rest ranged from adult contemporary pop to straight ahead commercial pop.

 

True, the album probably didn't have a great of appeal for the band's hardcore progressive camp, but to my ears it wasn't half bad.


"Everything You Need" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Anyway We Can (Song For H.)  (Chris Williams - Christoph Barutsky - Hans-Rolf Schade) - 4:24    rating: *** stars

 Complete with catchy hook, 'Anyway We Can (Song For H.)' was a rollicking pop-rock number that would have sounded pretty good on early-1970s FM radio.  Nice telecaster solo from Hans-Rolf Schade.

2.) Slide Away  (Chris Williams - Christoph Barutsky) - 4:47  rating: *** stars

Complete with a top-40 melody, one of Williams better vocals, sweet multi-part vocal harmonies, and a lyric that included the phrase 'got to keep on moving, all that happy screwing ...') 'Slide Away' showcased the band at their most commercial.  Easy to see progressive fans falling into a coma when listening to this one.  Personally I kind of liked it.   

3.) Ivan Hood the White Knight  (Chris Williams - Christoph Barutsky) - 3:41  rating: ** stars

'Ivan Hood the White Knight' (their spelling, not mine), sounded a bit like a sub par concept piece crossing  early Rush, Jethro Tull (with a Germanic edge), and Rick Wakeman.  Any idea what language the weird refrain "bi a niya, bi a niya ..." was in ?  It sounded like they'd borrowed a page out of the Magma's Kobaïan dictionary ....  

4.) Thing We Do  (Chris Williams) - 6:10  rating: *** stars

Continuing to play-spot-the-influences, 'Thing We Do' seemed to borrow heavily from Donovan's patented blend of hippy philosophy and catchy, top-40 pop melodies.  Again, progressive fans were probably appalled to find themselves singing the insidiously catchy closing refrain "la la li li la li  ..."   

 

(side 2)

1. ) Everything You Need - 20:06

     a.) What a Day  (Chris Williams - Hans-Rolf Schade) -  rating: **** stars

As mentioned, 'Everything You Need' was a twenty minute, side long suite spread across five section (which actually sounded like five entirely different songs that had been haphazardly stitched together.)

- Even though it took awhile to get going, powered by some powerhouse drumming from Konstantin Bommarius and a beautiful Hans-Rolf Schade jangle guitar lick, 'What a Day' evolved into the album's prettiest number.  It was also another track that served to showcase Williams voice in a positive light.   

     b.) Paranoia Agency  (Chris Williams - Christoph Barutsky - Hans-Rolf Schade) -  rating: ** stars

'Paranoia Agency' saw the album abruptly verve from prettiest song to weirdest number ...  With Williams talk-singing his way through the first part of the song, this one actually sounded like a Monty Python outtake.  Literally a horrible vocal (imagine a German Kermit the Frog backed by a crew of Muppets), the second part of the song at least sported a nice heavy metal guitar riff.   rating: ** stars

     c.) Hold Up the Flag  (Chris Williams - Hans-Rolf Schade) -  rating: *** stars

'Hold Up the Flag' found the band rediscovering the concept of a catchy melody - this time adding a vague  Caribbean flavor to the mix.  Elsewhere its doubtful this one would have attract much attention, but on this set it actually didn't sound half bad.      

    d.) Don't Worry  (Chris Williams - Hans-Rolf Schade) -  rating: *** stars

 If anything, sporting the album's most memorable melody, the acoustic 'Don't Worry' was even more radio friendly.  The song also featured one of the prettiest sax solos I've ever heard.  Very adult contemporary.   

     e.) Everything You Need  (Chris Williams - Christoph Barutsky) -  rating: ** stars

'With Williams employing his archest vocal, 'Everything You Need' had the makings of a decent song (at least up until it hit the Vaudevillian ending), but simply could never come into focus.  Plodding ...   

 

Though none of the original members are still with the band, Abacus still exists and have a website at:

http://www.abacus-studio.de/history.php

 

 

 

 


MIDWAY

1. Let's Face The Voice And Dance
2. Including Revelation
3. Me And You
4. 11 Garden
5. You Are Not The One I Love
6. For The Moment
7. Be Beholding
8. Hermann The German
9. Here We Go
10. Midway


Chris Williams / vocal
- Charlie Schade / guitar, sitar
- Chris Barutzky / keyboards
- Klaus Kohlhase / bass
- Allan Warren / drums, percussion
Originally a 60's pop group known as Fashion, Abacus started their career as 
support to many British progressive bands touring Germany. Influenced by such 
music, and with the addition of English vocalist Chris Williams, they became 
Abacus in 1971. We've never encountered their debut LP (which is reputedly very 
good), but later on they still had a borderline pop sound - hints of Bonzo's and 
The Move in a bluesy rock with a 60's beat feel, and some psychedelic touches - 
occasionally mad or eccentric. 


In 2008 Chris Williams, Birmingham located Abacus singer unfortunately died, 
when he just was about to write the words for "Destiny". At that time he also 
had decided to rejoin the band as the new lead singer, because the former singer 
and guitarist Manfred Heilmann had left the band. So it took another 2 years to 
write the words for" Destiny" and find the new lead singer Stefan Mageney and 
the guitarists Mario Schramme and Werner Schimaniak.

Stefan Mageney`s voice has a great recognition and feels comfortable with 
ballades as well as with uptempo Prog Rock songs.

For years the bands rhytm line up has stayed unchanged with Rainer Niklowitz on 
drums/ percussion and Reiner Schulte on 6 string bass.

Like the pre-Abacus band "Grail" from England the band goes back to the roots by 
inviting the Berlin located cellist Manfred Degener to join the band.

Keyboarder Jürgen Wimpelberg is an Abacus member for more than 30 years. He 
wrote all songs and words, mixed and produced "Destiny".

On "Destiny" Abacus again has proofed that the band has left behind the former 
Kraut Rock image of the 70's and 80's by claiming their big part in the Prog 
Rock world of the new millenium.

"Destiny" is distributed world wide by Musea/France.

If you like harmony vocals, driving guitars, classical and ethnic music , great 
keyboard and guitar solos, real Hammond organ, Moog synthesizers and Mellotrons, 
you love Prog Roc ! So you must love Abacus, too! 

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Info from the year 1982

  

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ABACUS is surely a big name for everyone interested in rock music. The band 
formed in 1971 made their breakthrough at the Germersheim rock festival, where 
ABACUS drew not less applause from the 300,000 visitors than PINK FLOYD, SANTANA 
or ELP which appeared on stage as well. In the following ABACUS published 4 LPs, 
of which the last 3 where recorded at Giorgio Moroder's "MUSICLAND". Because of 
the global record sales, numerous national and international tours, TV and radio 
shows ABACUS became a top act not only in Germany.

ABACUS delivered the same dense sound on stage as in the studio. Maybe that's 
why they became a crowd puller for countless shows.

Musical differences about future record productions were among other things 
responsible for the break up of the band in 1976. Klaus Kohlhase, bass guitarist 
and motor of ABACUS revived the band in 1979. After a long search he found the 
players who helped to refine the sound of ABACUS. 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
      
Jürgen Wimpelberg (28),
keyboards, vocals,
guitars

ex-member of "TIME OF
COMMOTION", Composer
of a Rock Opera

    Klaus Kohlhase (29),
basses

since 1971 bass player
and "motor" of ABACUS

  
  Norbert Leifert (28),
keyboards, vocals, flutes

ex-member of LIVE

    
Rainer Niklowitz (28),
drums

ex-member of
"ELECTRIC MUD"   Manfred Heilmann (26),
leadvocals, guitars

years of experience as
studio musician  


ABACUS is surely a big name for everyone interested in rock music. The band 
formed in 1971 made their breakthrough at the Germersheim rock festival, where 
ABACUS drew not less applause from the 300,000 visitors than PINK FLOYD, SANTANA 
or ELP which appeared on stage as well. Jürgen Wimpelberg takes on himself to 
play keyboards, guitars, drum programming as well as vocals. 



Releases information

For my money, this is Abacus' most underrated album. True, beyond the excellent,
lengthy, largely instrumental title track, there's not much prog, but it's
definitely much more alive than EVERYTHING YOU NEED was. And much more of that
Kinks-y charm that oozed through the better moments of said predecessor. Chris
Williams is in fine voice throughout.
"11 Garden" is this particular album's "quirky tune". "Let's Face The Voices and
Dance" and "Including Revelation" are virtually two parts of a whole, with the
same fine guitar rhythm throughout. Nice synth work on

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