Asterix


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1968-70)

- Peter Hecht - keyboards

- Peter Hesslein -- lead guitar

- Dieter Horns -- bass

- George Monroe (aka Georg Mavros) -- lead vocals

- Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach (RIP) -- drums, percussion

 

  line up 1  (1970)

NEW - Toni Cavanna (RIP 2005) (aka Toni Cavanaugh, aka 

  Oriester Waston Cavanaugh) -- vocals

- Peter Hecht - keyboards

- Peter Hesslein -- lead guitar

- Dieter Horns -- bass

NEW - John Lawton -- vocals (replaced George Monroe)

- Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach (RIP)-- drums, percussion

 

- A.R. & Machines (Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach)

- The Air Mail (John Lawton)

- Arc Project (John Lawton)

- The Bats (Toni Cavanaugh)

- Bokaj Retsiem

- Brother T. and Family (Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach)

- The Denes (John Lawton)

- Electric Food (Peter Hecht, Peter Hesslein, Dieter Horns, 

  Georg Mavros, and Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach)

- The German Bonds (Peter Hecht, Peter Hesslein, Dieter Horns, 

  Georg Mavros, and Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach)

- The Giants (Peter Hesslein and Georg Mavros

- Gunhill (John Lawton)

- Hardy Hepp

- Hell Preachers Inc.

- The Hensley Project (John Lawton)

- The Hiltonaires (John Lawton)

- The Lawton Dunning Project (John Lawton)

- The Les Humphries Singers (John Lawton)

- Lucifer's Friend (John Lawton) (Peter Hecht, Peter Hesslein, 

  Dieter Horns, John Lawton, Georg Mayros, and 

  Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach)

- Lucifer's Friend II

- Moonstone Project (John Lawton)

- The New Freedom Singers

- Okko

- On the Rocks (John Lawton)

- Joe Peterson & Sklyliner (John Lawton)

- Pink Mice (Peter Hecht, Peter Hesslein, Dieter Horns, and

  Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach)

- The Lee Patterson Singers (Toni Cavanaugh)

- Rebel (John Lawton)

- Stonewall (John Lawton)

- Peter Sunday and the Birds of Fire (John Lawton)

- Sweet Mama (John Lawton)

- Tony and the Beat Brothers (Toni Cavanaugh)

- Tony and the Jets (Toni Cavanaugh)

- Uriah Heep (John Lawton)

- West One (John Lawton)

- ZAR (John Lawton)

 

 

 


 

Genre:  progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Asterix

Company: Decca/Heldon

Catalog:  SLK 16 695-P
Year:
 1971

Country/State: Hamburg, Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: Yugoslavian copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2719

Price: $180.00

For some reason I had in my head Asterix was a German progressive outfit.   Well, I got both their nationality and musical orientations wrong.   Formed in 1970, Asterix originally had an all German line-up featuring keyboard player Peter Hecht, lead guitarist Peter Hesslein, bassist Dieter Horns, singer Georg Mavros, and drummer Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach.  Together and apart they'd played in a host of '60s German bands including The German Bonds, The Giants, The Rattles, and a number of anonymous studio entities that released "budget" albums (The Air Mail, Electric Food, Hell Preachers Inc.).   By the time they recorded their debut album, the band had become an international entity with the addition of English and American lead singers.

 

As for the musical direction, well I was wrong there as well.

 

Signed by Decca, the band went into the studio with former Rattles member Herbert Hilderbrandt-Winhauer, making their debut with a "toughenen-up" cover of Tommy James' 'Everybody'.  The band-penned original flip side 'If I Could Fly' was actually better, sounding a bit like Gary Wright and Spooky Tooth. The single was released throughout Europe and even saw a US promo release:

   UK release:

- 1970's 'Everybody' b/w 'If I Could Fly' (Decca catalog number F13075)

   US release:

- 1970's 'Everybody' b/w 'If I Could Fly' (London catalog number 45-143)

 

As mentioned, by the time the group got around to recording their debut album, Georg Mavros was out, replaced by English singer John Lawton and American Toni Cavanna.

 

Continuing to work with producer Hilderbrandt-Winhauer, "Asterix" showcased a largely original set of guitar-powered hard rock. With the exception of the closing ballad 'This Is the Morning', they weren't big on melodies, but had their proto-metal moves down pretty well, so anyone into early Deep Purple, or Uriah Heep was liable to find this set enjoyable, if not particularly original.  They were clearly a talented ensemble with guitarist Hesslein repeatedly showcasing his tasteful chops (check out his work on 'Jump Into My Action').  Other than the absence of a truly killer track ('Jump Into My Action' came close), my biggest problem with the album came from Cavanna and Lawton sharing vocal duties. On their own, each was quite good, but on tracks like 'Broken Home' and 'Corner Street Girl' the arrangements found them sharing lead vocals. Their voices simply didn't blend particularly well and when they took alternative versus, the results degenerated into what sounded like a full-on competition to out-scream one another.

 

One comment about the album cover - if you look closely you might notice a certain similarity to a female body part.  In the States Mom's Apple Pie released an album featuring a similarly themed album cover.  Their cover was banned and had to be replaced.  Guess European audiences were a little more understanding.   = )

 

"Asterix" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Look Out   (Hebert Hilderbrandt-Winhauer) - 3:07   rating: **** stars

Based on the lead vocals, I'm guessing 'Look Out' was a carryover from the band's initial line-up featuring Georg Mavros in the front man/lead singer role.  I have to admit I quite liked his accented delivery.  As mentioned, for an album that I thought was going to have a progressive edge, this was a surprisingly straightforward slice of hard rock with a top-40ish melody and a hot Peter Hesslein guitar solo.  Even though it wasn't very representative of the rest of the album, Decca chose to release this song as a German 45:

- 1971's 'Look Out' b/w 'Open Your Mind' (Decca catalog number D 29 -96)

2.) Gone From My Life (Peter Hesslein - John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) - 3:26  rating: *** stars

Always loved Hesslein opening guitar work.  While I liked the rocking 'Gone From My Life', the song would have been even better without the shared  Lawton and Cavanaugh lead vocals.  One of the two (I'm thinking it was Cavanna), came off as shrill and harsh.   

3.) Broken Home  (Peter Hesslein - John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) - 4:24  rating: *** stars

Lawton has legions of fans, but once again, combining him with Cavanna seemed counterproductive with the two stumbling all over one another.  Moreover, at least to my ears, their voices just didn't blend very well.  'Broken Home' was actually a decent blues-rocker with Hesslein showing some real power.

4.) Time Again  (Peter Hecht - John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) - 3:06   rating: ** stars

Geez, did I put on an ELP album by mistake ?  Unlike the rest of side one, 'Time Again' gave Peter Hecht a chance to showcase his keyboard prowess.   Unfortunately, this was also the side's blandest tune with Hecht using his spotlight time to turn in a pseudo classical piano solo.

 

(side 2) 

1.) Jump Into My Action   (Dieter Horns -  John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) - 3:30   rating: **** stars

Opening up with Hecht on Hammond B-3, 'Jump Into My Action' started out as a pretty ballad that would have been even better with either Lawton, or Cavanna taking lead vocals.  Damn, their voices really didn't mesh very well.  Around the two minute mark the tune went into a keyboard powered jam mode with Hesslein finally making an appearance with the album's nicest guitar solo.  Extra star for sporting the album's prettiest melody.

2.) Open Up Your Mind  (Peter Hesslein - John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) -3:14   rating: **** stars

The lead vocal certainly wasn't great, sounding a bit like Roger Daltry with a head cold, but 'Open Up You Mind' was probably the album's best overall track.   Nice bouncy melody that generated quite a bit of energy.  

3.) Corner Street Girl  (Peter Hesslein - John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) - 4:04   rating: *** stars

Interesting title - sounds like it was translated from German since in English it would have been written as 'Street Corner Girl'.   So this was a tune that underscored how irritating the Lawton-Cavanna vocal structure was.  Nice song, but what was the point of the pair simply trying to out-belt each other ?

4.) Change In You   (Dieter Horns -  John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) - 4:06  rating; **** stars

A conventional rocker with one of their catchier refrains, opening up with another nice Hesslein guitar riff, 'Change In You' was primarily Lawton on vocals.  That made it one of the better performances.

5.) Morning At My Dawn  (Peter Hesslein - John Lawton - Toni Cavanna) - 6:53   rating; **** stars

Somewhat unexpected, 'Morning At My Dawn' closed the album out with a pretty ballad.   Giving credit where due, set against a sweet melody which again showcased Hesslein's top--notch work, this was the one track where Cavanna and Lawton managed to blend their voices fairly well.   

 

 

Perhaps due to the connection with the famous rench cartoon character,  the band subsequently opted to drop the Asterix nameplate.   Hecht, Hesslein, Horns, Lawton, and Rietenbach reappeared with a slight heavier sound as Lucifier's Friend.

 

 

 

 

 

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