Brainstorm - Last Smile

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 051
Format: CD
Total Time: 40:12:00

As we have discovered via my review of Brainstorm's Second Smile, this band was a jazz-rock band. Last Smile is a live recording, captured in 1974 for a WDR radio show "Kleine Nachtmusik". Two of the CD's 5 tracks have been heretofore unreleased, "Signed" and "Stars On The Stage." The rest of the performance consists of an abbreviated version of "Marilyn Monroe" and an extended version of "There Was A Time" (both from the above mentioned second release), and "Das Schwein Trügt (You're The One)" from their first album Smile A While (the studio version included as a bonus on Second Smile).

As live release, the sound quality is terrific. In fact, but for the audience applause, you'd never guess it was a live recording. Since we've talked about the other tracks in our review of Second Smile, let's look at the two previously unreleased pieces. "Signed" is a muscular track with a rock edge - punchy drums and percussion, with a soft edge. Although there are vocals on this piece (probably Schaeffer, who provided vocals on Second Smile), throughout its nearly eight and half minute length, it is mostly instrumental. During these instrumental sections, Rainer Bodensohn's flute and Roland Schaeffer's clarinet and sax alternate taking the lead. It's terrific piece that would have been just as strong, perhaps stronger, as strictly instrumental. There are music references, whether intentional or not, to other pieces, but the moment you think you've pinned it down, the track goes into a different direction.

"Stars On The Stage" is a heavy sounding rocker -- Enno Dernov's bass is the most prominent instrument -- with Tull-like flute trills a close second. Schaeffer joins in for a taut guitar solo before everybody sits back, giving Bodensohn the spotlight. The track goes back and forth between vocal sections, flute led instrumental sections, and guitar led sections (one can't help but think of The Allman Bros. Band during these, as Schaeffer's picking style and the guitar's tone is quite similar). As nice as it is, though, it takes a little longer to go the places it want's to go ...which would be okay if it weren't 10 minutes long. It's hard really to make that kind of judgement on a live performance, as often the artists are caught up in the moment, playing off each other. I guess if there were just a little more movement in the solo sections...

Some words about one other track -- there's a hip, 50s-60s coolness to "There Was A Time." The image that came to mind was of the Rat Pack -- Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Frank Sinatra -- and something like the original Ocean's 11. I could almost picture Martin or Sinatra singing this, if they were doing so with a little less swing and little more rock. Eddy Von Overheidt solos on his keys, playing free, but still somewhat restrained. Subtle texturing versus flashy soloing. Even Schaeffer's clarinet solo seems stately, brassy, but not too much so -- full of trills, but not for trilling's sake. He solos again on guitar, which has a nice round, hollow tone that to me seems typical of the period. One can hear each note as he takes his time to make sure each bit of the phrase is given its due. He does duel a bit with the flute towards the end as the notes each plays wrestle with the other.

Last Smile is, on the whole, a terrific release. As usual, the folks at Garden Of Delights have packaged the CD very well. The liner notes continue the band's history from where they left off on Second Smile. Plus they include pics and an extended discography, giving you the divergent paths to follow for each member, including those who had left by the time Last Smile was recorded. For the curious, there is also their live itinerary for the years 1972-1974. All of which makes this the version to seek out.

Marilyn Monroe (4:12) / Das Schwein Trügt (4:59) / Signed (8:32) / There Was A Time (12:36) / Stars on The Stage (10:33)

Roland Schaeffer - sax, guitar, and clarinet (and probably vocals)
Eddy Von Overheidt - keyboards
Rainer Bodensohn - flute
Enno Dernov - bass
Horst Mittmann - drums, percussion

Smile A While (1972)
"You're The One/Das Schwein Trügt" (1973)
Second Smile (1973)
Last Smile (1974)
Bremen 1973 (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin DE

Added: April 21st 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 863
Language: english


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