Art Boys Collection
Band members Related acts
line up 1:1969-72
- Johann Aigner -- bass
- Gerhard Bauer-- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Gerhard Egger --
vocals, rhythm guitar
- Walter Holz --
- Johann Aigner -- bass
- Gerhard Bauer--
- Walter Holz --
- Gerhard Egger & die Mostrocker
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Stoned Wall
Company: Garden of Delight
Country/State: Andorf, Austria
Grade (cover/record): NM/NM
Comments: reissue; sealed copy
Catalog ID: 126
Hum, this may be the only Austrian band I have in my collection ...
There's quite a bit of material about the band on the web, but much of it is in German so here's what I've been able to piece together about the band. Singer/guitarist Gerhard Egger and drummer Hans Joachim Holz met at a college jam session in Linz, Austria. The two discovered a common affinity for rock and roll, deciding to form a band. Recruiting Holtz's brother Walter on keyboards, along with bassist Johann Aigner, and guitarist Gerhard Bauer, they started playing dances and clubs as The Boys, followed by a change in name to The Art Boys Collection (I can only guess that something got lost in the translation).
Signed by the small German Interpop label, the band made their debut with a now-rare 1969 45:
- 1969's 'Life Is a Dream' b/w 'United Blues Generation' (Interpop catalog number ITP 10 069)
Switching to the Austrian/Swiss Lesborne label, the band released a couple of follow-up 45s::
- 1970's 'Lemon Tree' b/w 'A Walk In the Rain' (Lesborne catalog number 9611 017)
- 1971's 'Jesus Said' b/w 'Station Nowhere' (Lesborne catalog number L 1905)
With the third single providing the band with a massive Austrian hit, Lesborne rushed the band into the recording studio to record a supporting album. In spite of flaws, 1972's "Stoned Wall" is a collection that I've long found fascinating. With Egger responsible for ten of the twelve songs (Hans Joachim Holz penning the other two), the album wasn't particularly original, but served as a showcase demonstrating the influence American and English rock had throughout the rest of Europe, and in particular on these guys. With all of the material performed in English (accents were seldom a problem on this set), the album found The Art Boys working their way through an extensive catalog of past and then popular rock styles. That included their beat band roots ('In a Foreign Country'), blue-eyed soul ('Freedom, Voice of My Soul'), blues-rock ('Happy Woman'), pop ('All My Life'), and even occasional psych moves ('Roll Engine Roll'). It was far from original, but hearing these guys trot out their musical influences was a blast; particularly since they were quite accomplished musicians (guitarist Gerhard Bauer and keyboardist Walter Holz were particularly good) and delivered most of the material with energy and enthusiasm that should have made their better known counterparts blush with shame. Curiously, I've always found their more commercial material to be on the lame side (the Austrian hit 'Jesus Said' was simply irritating), while heavier numbers like 'I'm Riding On An Arrow' and 'Happy Woman') were great. A fun album from start to finish. Shame the material they recorded for a planned follow-up never saw the light of day.
Unfortunately for the band, personality conflicts and disagreements over musical direction imposed themselves with front man Egger leaving shortly after the album was completed. He was replaced by Hubert Perfahl who stayed with the group until they finally called it quits in 1975.
Wall" track listing:
1.) Freedom, Voice of My Soul (Gerhard Egger) - 3:10 rating: *** stars
Other than the irritating phasing effect slapped on the song and Gerhard Egger heavy German accent 'Freedom, Voice of My Soul' was a decent enough slice of pop-soul - well, at least the Austrian interpretation of the genre. If you've ever heard The Les Humphries Singers MOR interpretations of then-popular hits, you'd have a feel for what this one sounded like. The song was tapped as the album's second single.
- 1971's 'Freedom-Voice Of My Soul' b/w 'All my Life' (Lesborne catalog number l 1916)
2.) Stoned Wall (Gerhard Egger) - 4:38 rating: **** stars
Opening up with some atmospheric guitar, the mid-tempo ballad 'Stoned Wall' actually had a slightly lysergic feel (or maybe it was the sound of two much beer). Nah, this one was actually quite impressive with a nice stoned vocal from Egger. One of the album highlights.
3.) Roll Engine Roll (Gerhard Egger) - 3:50 rating: **** stars
Maybe it was my own stereotyped expectations (gee, how cool could an Austrian be ?), but 'Roll Engine Roll ' was a surprisingly tasty slice of toytown-styled psych. Full of cool psych touches (including some nifty treated guitars and great support from keyboardist Walter Holz), the song was highly catchy and commercial. I suspect had they been an English outfit this would have been a major radio hit throughout Europe.
4.) Flying Machine (Gerhard Egger) - 4:10 rating: *** stars
'Flying Machine' was apparently meant to underscore the band's credentials as a conventional blues-rock outfit. Not bad in a we-wanna-be-Cream kind of way, though both Walter Holz's keyboard solo (with it's cute nod to 'Sunshine of Your Love'), and the raw fuzz guitar solo were top notch.
5.) Love (Gerhard Egger) - 3:45 rating: **** stars
Don't know about the rest of you, but I certainly wasn't expecting a ballad as pretty and impressive as 'Love'. Loved the sweet harmony vocals on this one.
6.) All My Life (Hans Joachim Holz) - 2:05 rating: *** stars
Opening up with some hokey barrelhouse piano, the top-40 pop-oriented 'All My Life' was also the album's first disappointment. While the song had a catchy enough melody and the kind of goofy lyrics that seemed ready made for early-'70s European radio, it just sounded too radio-centric for its own good. You could almost imagine songwriter Hans Joachim Holz putting the song together to insure radio play.
Powered by some nice hard rock guitar work (including the album's best guitar solo), 'I'm Riding On An Arrow' showed these guys could toughen up their sound. You weren't about to mistake them for Deep Purple, but the results were actually quite enjoyable. In fact, my only complaint on this one was the band's seeming affection for slapping phasing effects on everything.
2.) Wait for the Days (Gerhard Egger) - 3:30 rating: **** stars
I grew up listening to stuff like this on European radio so I have a natural disposition and affection for it ... Imagine a bunch of young suburban guys trying to be way cooler than they really were (just look at the band photo) and you'll get a feel for what 'Wait for the Days' sounded like - namely smooth, highly commercial top-40 pop that was intended to be cutting edge and anti-establishment. It wasn't, but had a great melody full of strumming acoustic guitars and sweet backing harmonies, coupled with an enthusiastic delivery, so high marks.
3.) Happy Woman (Gerhard Egger) - 3:18 rating: **** stars
Say what you will about these guys, but there was no denying they were flexible, capable of handling a wide array of musical genres. 'Happy Woman' found them taking on English blues-rock with more energy and spunk than a train load of their English counterparts. Plus the song had some of the album's best guitar moves and some of my favorite lyrics: "happy woman you are created for getting old ...". What wasn't there to love on this one ? I think Kim Simmonds would give it the nod.
4.) Station Nowhere (Gerhard Egger) - 4:27 rating: *** stars
Pretty, vaguely acid-tinged ballad that -gave the Holz brothers a chance to shine on drums, keyboards, and vocals. This one wasn't included in the original album, rather was a bonus track on the reissue packages.
5.) In a Foreign Country (Hans Joachim Holz) - 2:27 rating: *** stars
I'd guess 'In a Foreign Country' was a leftover from the group's beat band roots. Charming in it's simplicity (it had what almost sounded like '50s feel), nice melody, and surprisingly entertaining lyrics.
6.) Jesus Said (Gerhard Egger) - rating: ** stars
Another bonus track on the reissue set, 'Jesus Said' had previously been released as the band's third single and first hit. Musically this one sounded like a mixture of The Mamas and the Papas and The Les Humphries Singers. Personally, the mock Gospel edges irritated the crap out of me. Even worse was the hideous sound; the band literally drowning the tune in phasing. Yeah, it may have been an Austrian hit, but it sucked.
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