Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-1972)

- Tommy McGuigan (RIP) -- vocals, sax, keyboards, mellotron

- Allan Murdoch --- guitar

- Horst Stachelhaus (RIP 1999) -- bass

- Gerhard Schaber -- drums, percussion

- Billy Tabbert -- vocals, guitar


  supporting musicians

- Taff Freeman -- vocals, mellotron


  line up 2 (1972-73)

NEW - Gunther Klingel  (replaced Gerhard Schaber) -- drums, percussion

- Tommy McGuigan (RIP) -- vocals, sax, keyboards, mellotron

- Allan Murdoch --- guitar

- Horst Stachelhaus (RIP 1999) -- bass


  line up 3 (1973-76)

- Tommy McGuigan (RIP) -- vocals, sax, keyboards, mellotron

- Allan Murdoch --- guitar

- Horst Stachelhaus (RIP 1999) -- bass

NEW - Manfred von Bohr -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Gunther Klingel)


  line up 4 (1976)

NEW - David Hasselmann -- vocals (replaced Tommy McGuigan)

-  Allan Murdoch --- guitar

- Horst Stachelhaus (RIP 1999) -- bass

- Manfred von Bohr -- drums, percussion 


  supporting musicians:

- Tony Greaves -- sax


  line up 5 (1977)

NEW - Helmut Fichtner -- keyboards

- David Hasselmann -- vocals (replaced Tommy McGuigan)

-  Allan Murdoch --- guitar

NEW - Tommy Wahl -- drums percussion (replaced 

  Manfred von Bohr)

NEW - Emil Wirth -- bass (replaced Horst Stachelhaus)


  line up 6 (1978-81)

NEW - Fritz Groger -- guitar

NEW - Sammy Kunig -- sax

-  Allan Murdoch --- guitar

NEW- Reiner Nagel -- vocals, bass, keyboards (replaced 

  Emil Wirth)

NEW- Peter Schmidt -- drums, percussion (replaced Tommy Wahl)





- Alex Oriental Experience (Horst Stachelhaus)

- Anyone's Dream (Gunther Klingel and Peter Schmidt)

- Birth Control (Horst Stachelhaus and Manfred von Bohr)

- Broselmaschine (Manfred von Bohr)

- Dies Irae (Manfred von Bohr)

- The Dudes (David Hasselmann)

- Chris Evans and David Hasselmann

- Fisherman's Walkband (Gunther Klingel)

- Hammerhead (Manfred von Bohr)

- Anne Haigis (solo efforts)

- David Hasselmann (solo efforts)

- Headband (Manfred von Bohr))

- Lazarus's Bra (Gunther Klingel)

- Manfred Kniel's Human Music Association (Horst Stachelhaus and

  Manfred von Bohr)

- Matter of Taste (Helmut Fichtner)

- Maximum Party Band (David Hasselmann)

- MI5 (Allan Murdoch)

- Allan Murdoch (solo efforts)

- Overdrive (David Hasselmann)

- Phil and the Noise (Anne Haigis)

- P.U.L.S.E. (Manfred von Bohr)

- Puma (Manfred von Bohr)

- Risk (David Hasselmann)

- Stuttgart (Anne Haigis)

- Triumvirate (David Hasselmann)

- Manfred von Bohr (solo efforts)

- Waahnsinn Allstars (Anne Haigis)

- The Waysiders (Tom McGuigan and Allan Murdoch)





Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  From Books and Dreams

Company: Bellaphon/Baccilus

Catalog: BLPS 19159

Country/State: Dusseldorf, Germany, Scotland, UK, USA

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 30979

Price: $180.00


Ah, the joys of 1960s internationalism ...  Bassist Horst Stachelhaus formed Messenger in 1968.  Initially an all-German entity, by the time the band was signed to Bellaphon and released their 1972 debut "The Dawn Anew Is Coming",  the line-up featured a mixture of German, English and Scottish members.  Along with Stachelhaus, representing the German contingent was drummer Gunther Klingel.  Guitarist Allan Murdoch was English.  Singer/multi-instrumentalist Tom McGuigan was Scottish.  From 1962 until 1965 the latter two had been members of The Waysiders.  When that band called it quits, Murdoch eventually ended up in MI5.  Unable to find steady work in the UK, MI5 followed a stream of English bands to Germany.  MI5 subsequently morphed into Nektar, but Murdoch elected to join Stachelhaus in Message.  He subsequently reached out to former band mate McGuigan.  McGuigan in turn brought in American guitarist Billy Tabbert.


By the time the band went into the studio to record their sophomore album "From Books & Dreams", the line-up had morphed into a quartet featuring new drummer Gunther Klingel, McGuigan on vocals, sax, and keyboards, Murdoch on guitar and Stachelhaus on bass.  Produced by Peter Hauke with Dieter Dierks engineering, I've read compared to Krautrock bands like ELOY, Gomorrah, Kraan, and Nektar.  While I can hear such comparisons, I'd suggest adding a little Black Sabbath and Canterbury-styled jazz-rock into the mix.  Those last two characteristics (or shortcomings) can be traced back to McGuigan.  His dark, rough hewn voice wasn't the most melodic tool I've ever heard, but even with a Scottish burr in his voice, performances like the title track reminded me a bit of Ozzy Osbourne.  As exemplified by 'Sigh', McGuigan's occasional  sax outings tended to go off into discordant jazz-rock fusion directions.  I'm a Sabbath fan.  Not so much a jazz-rock fusion fan.   While the album was apparently envisioned as a concept piece, the plotline's never been particularly clear to me.  The closing performance 'Introducing the Myth' was inspired by Mary Stewart's book "The Crystal Cave".  While I'm not a big fantast novel fan, I'm guessing that the plot may have had something to do with Stewart's Arthurian legend and the main character's clairvoyant visions.  Even without understanding the plotline, the album's an interesting spin.


Technical factoid - the LP was released in stereo/quadraphonic format.


"From Books and Dreams" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sleep   (Message) - 2:51   rating: *** stars

If the album cover didn't give you the heebie geebies, then the opener 'Sleep' with it's basement-of-the-castle atmospherics and heavily treated, spoken word lyrics was bound to push you over the edge.  Okay, it may have been B-grade movie cheesy, but it was still disturbing.  I made the mistake of putting this on late one night and ended up unable to fall asleep afterwards.   Not exactly your top-40 power pop tune.

2.) Dreams and Nightmares (Dreams)   (Message) - 12:45   rating:**** stars

Opening up with a pounding Allan Murdoch guitar riff, the title track also served to introduce Tommy McGuigan's thick voice.  He's always reminded me of a more versatile Ozzy Osbourne, which may or no be a compliment depending on your musical tastes. Anyhow, clocking in at almost 13 minutes, the title track had a great riff with Murdoch's lead guitar given a bell tone that's always reminded me of bagpipes (suitable given the band's Scottish-German roots).  Admittedly the tune stretched on too long; but it held together through most of the track; ultimately going off the rails when McGuigan picked up his sax and started to run off in a more jazz oriented direction.

3. Turn Over   (Message) - 4:02   rating: *** stars

There was no clear transition from the title track and 'Turn Over'; McGuigan eventually showed up with a brief spoken word segment that found him repeating the title track time after time, after time ...  As some other folks have said, the band probably meant for this one to cycle over and over again until you physically lifted your stylus, but the Bellaphon engineers apparently did understand that.  On my copy of the album, the "turn over" riff repeats itself a number of times before ending (without the need for human intervention).  Regardless, in an otherwise bleak and barren landscape, this one made me smile. 


(side 2)
1.) Sigh   (Message) - 8:07
   rating:**** stars

'Sigh' opened the second side with the album's most atypical performance.  I won't go as far as tagging this one commercial, but it was easily the album's most conventional performance with a tasty melody and a nice performances from guitarist Murdoch (who got to stretch out a little) and bassist Stachelhaus.  

2.) Dream and Nightmare (Nightmares)   (Message) - 13:30   rating: *** stars

i.)  Introducing the Myth   (Message) - 

ii)  The Unpleasant Spell)   (Message) - 

The liner notes indicated the closing number was inspired by Mary Stewart's book "The Crystal Cave."  'Dream and Nightmare (Nightmares)'  flowed in a more progressive direction with some of the collection's darkest and most disturbing lyrics.  While it was hard to figure out exactly where the different song segments segued (I'm guessing around the 8:55 mark where McGuigan started a spoken word segment), musically this one bounced all over the road map, giving McGuigan's mellotron a moment in the spotlight.  Murdoch also got an opportunity to stretch out and showcase his chops.  Decent, but not as appealing as the first segment.