Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969-72)
- David Alluno -- drums, percussion
- Fritz Scheyhing -- keyboards, synthesizers
- Wolf Conrad Veit -- vocals, lead guitar
- Walter Wiederkehr -- bass
line up 2 (1973-74)
NEW - Daniel Fichelscher -- drums, percussion
NEW - Florian Fricke -- keyboards, synthesizers
NEW - Sabine Merbach (RIP) -- vocals
- Wolf 'Conny' Veit -- lead guitar, flute, vibraphone, synthesizers
- Amon Dull II (Daniel Fichelscher)
- Coney Island (Conny Veit)
- Guru Guru (Conny Veit)
- Niagara (Daniel "Danny" Fichelscher)
- Popol Vuh (Daniel Fichelscher, Florian Fricke, and
Wolf Conny Veit)
- Sameti (David Alluno)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Bury Me Heart At Wounded Knee
Company: Warner Brothers
Country/State: Stuttgart, Germany
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: German pressing
Catalog ID: 5759
For some reason the Stuttgart-based Gila's been relegated to the status of also-rans in Krautrock histories, That's kind of a shame since these commune-living beatnicks were equally talented as better known competitors.
Living and working in a Stuttgart-based commune, French drummer David Alluno, German keyboardist Fritz Scheyhing, German guitarist Wolf Conrad Veit and Swiss bass player Walter Wiederkehr started their collaboration in 1969. Originally going by the name Gila Fuck (I'm not making that up), the group put together a multimedia act that included film, music, photography, and poetry, finding a steady stream of work at college parties and local clubs. Luckily common sense and good taste prevailed and by 1971 they'd shortened the name to Gila.
left to right: Conny Veit - David Alluno - Walter Wiederkehr - Fritz Scheryhing
Signed by BASF, 1971's "Free Electric Sound" teamed the band with producer Dieter Dierks
From a personnel point of view, 1973's "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" was fascinating in that it reflected a major personnel shake-up, guitarist Conny Veit being the only holdover from the first album. Joining Wolf in the rejuvenated band were fellow Popol Vuh alumni Daniel Fichelscher on drums and Florian Fricke on bass. Then known as Veit's girlfriend, the attractive Sabine Merbach was brought in to handle vocals. The album was equally interesting for the drastic shift in musical direction. Anyone expecting to hear another slab of Pink Floyd-influenced hard rock jams was in for a major surprise. I'm sure none of you saw it coming given the album title, or cover art, but with Vietnam rapidly spinning to its conclusion, if you were a young German living in a commune you had to turn your attention to some sort of American crime against humanity and given the popularity of Dee Alexander Brown's novel combined with the fact many Germans already had a fascination with the American west, crimes against Native American Indian probably seemed like a winning proposition. Given that background it may not have come as a major shock to find a German band releasing a concept piece built around the mistreatment of the American Indian. With Veit responsible for all seven tracks ('Sundance Chant', 'In a Sacred Manner', and 'Buffalo Chant' were based on native American lyrics that he first saw in Alexander Brown's book), the album was also notable for being one of the first releases to incorporate a distinctive new age flavor into the grooves.
My Heart At Wounded Knee" track listing:
1.) This Morning (Conny Veit) - 5:40 rating: **** stars
With Sabine Merbach handling lead vocals 'This Morning' sported a pretty acoustic guitar and piano propelled melody that at least to my ears bore more than a passing resemblance to something Fairport Convention might have recorded. By the same token Merbach's measured performance kind of reminded me of a German Sandy Denny.
2.) In A Sacred Manner (Conny Veit) - 4:42 rating: **** stars
Clearly inspired by Alexander Brown's book, 'In A Sacred Manner' was even more delicate and circumspect. Veit handled lead vocals this time out while showcasing a mesmerizing mixture of acoustic and electric slide guitar (check out the lead he plays at the tail end of the song). Easily one of the album highlights ...
3.) Sundance Chant (Conny Veit) - 4:09 rating: **** stars
This will probably sound kind of strange, but with it's acid-tinged atmosphere and group vocals 'Sundance Chant' started out sounding like a German version of The Jefferson Airplane before bouncing into a more upbeat segment, which in turned cued up some guitar that sounded like it had been lifted from a David Crosby solo album. Always loved the hand clapping percussion.
4.) Young Coyote (instrumental) (Conny Veit) - 3:18 rating: **** stars
The instrumental 'Young Coyote' showcased Veit on double tracked acoustic 12 string guitar. Wonderful performance that would knock someone like Leo Kotke, or John Prine off their feet.
With a distinctive classical feel, the instrumental 'Black Kettles Ballad' always reminded me of something Jan Akkerman might have recorded. Interestingly about half way through the song switched directions incorporating a distinctive Indian feel.
2.) Little Smoke (Conny Veit) - 5:06 rating: **** stars
With it's first person narrative 'Little Smoke' was clearly inspired by the massacre at Wounded Knee. Quite a somber and though provoking composition underscored by Veit's multi-tracked snaky lead guitar.
3) The Buffalo Are Coming (Conny Veit) - 7:20 rating: **** stars
Showcasing Fricke's melancholy piano and Veit's multi-tracked slide guitar, the stark instrumental 'The Buffalo Are Coming' brought the album to a haunting conclusion.
As a concept piece you to give Veit and company credit for avoiding the usual over-the-top political, social and economic accusations that accompanied so many mid-1970s albums. In this case they let the music speak for itself and the results were frequently quite stunning. Also in spite of what you may have read elsewhere, this one simply didn't fit into the Krautrock bag. Way too good for such a comparison. Look for a copy.
The second Gila iteration didn't have much of a lifespan either. Seemingly uninterested in touring, the band's focus splinted with Fichelscher and Fricke returning to Popol Vuh. For his part Veit began working with Amon Duul II, before briefly hooking up with Guru Guru. He later turned his attention to painting. Suffering from alcoholism, Merbach died from liver failure.
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