Snopek - First Band On The Moon

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4417.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:42:00

Other than the name and a review of Virginia Woolf (1972), I am unfamiliar with Snopek or its namesake Sigmund Snopek III, so I must give credit to both the GEPR and Axiom Of Choice for providing a couple of details used in this review.

Released in 1980, First Band On The Moon is contemporaneous with the first releases by Saga and Oingo Boingo, each of whom come to mind while listening to this CD. It is quirky, as was most of Oingo Boingo's material, but in the use of keyboards, vocals, and the arrangements there is a kinship to Saga. "Living Out Loud," for example, could easily be cousin to "Wind Him Up" or "Mouse In Maze." Given these two band examples, you may well wonder whether Snopek are progressive rock at all, and I'd say they are perhaps only tangentially related to the genre. It's more retro than progressive - and not retro-progressive as that might lead to thoughts of The Flower Kings, for example. No, no, I mean more that the music is rooted in the pop of the 60s, with a decidedly 80s vibe. If you didn't know otherwise, you might guess the vintage by the album cover, given the flight-jumpsuit worn by guitarist Byron Wiemann III -- so, um, 80s (as fashion).

There is the sense that the band know that for all the slight kitsch in the music -- "Controller's Reply" and "Armpit Shuffle" (for example) -- there was some intelligence behind it, a smirk, something sly, some reference that meant something at the time. "Highway Ghosts" is different in being a little more "serious," the chorus is a beefy refrain of "Ride on highway ride on." Complete with guitar solo and a hint of Southern Rock, it's not quite .38 Special or BTO, though, but perhaps as close as quirky rock band get. Of course, the lyrics are delivered with a bit of Elvis like sneer. "Crazy, Crazy Angel" is also a track with a more seriousness about it. Though I wouldn't call it entirely serious. There were times when I thought of Billy Joel, though Sigmund as a vocalist doesn't sound like Joel. No, I thought of Don Henley singing "Johnny Can't Read," actually... but mostly he and everyone else who sings on this CD sounds like Saga's Mike Sadler. This piece has that "stage musical" feel to it; certainly the story-song style of it is something out of a musical. "Avenue Motion," like "Highway Ghosts," has a countrified sound, making me think a bit of Dylan (though with less nasally vocals) and of The Byrd's. "Let's Take A Trip" is Latin-esque.

The instrumental "Ride In The Dark (Robotiko)" is a bright and upbeat piece with perky keyboards (Snopek), steadily humming bass (Jim Gorton) and percussion (Mike Lucas), some searing guitar leads (Wiemann) and might be the closest "prog" piece on the CD. Something you might say about the shimmering, jazzy "Solalex" which made me think of Camel, a song seemingly about some French paradise getaway. While everything else seems rooted in the 80s reflecting the 60s, this piece seems rooted in the 70s ... dreamy and floaty and something that The Flower Kings might do. Apparently, from the liner notes, "Robotiko" is taken from the "rock ballet Ride In The Dark" (which is not something I think Snopek finished), though it also appeared in longer form on Roy Rogers Meets Albert Einstein (1982) album. "Controller's Reply" is from Trinity Seaseizesees.

First Band On The Moon an interesting release, or as Fred Trafton calls in his review at the GEPR, "Novelty Rock." I know exactly what he means - it's that same kind of askew material that would find it's way on Doctor Demento's show. Certainly "The Armpit Shuffle" would qualify. It's not an unlikable CD, that is, it is entertaining. But it is perhaps a little too kitschy to have the same kind replay that Oingo Boingo does (at least with me) and not serious enough to compete with Saga (not that it is). It is, well, more a novelty CD you bring out for amusement and entertainment once in a while. Done rather well though with good performances.

Originally released in 1980 by Mountain Railroad (#52795)

First Band On The Moon (3:40) / Dr. Alles (3:42) / Living Out Loud (4:47) / Controller's Reply (3:47) / Highway Ghosts (6:10) / Avenue Motion (3:16) / Let's Take A Trip (4:45) / The Armpit Shuffle (3:27) / Crazy, Crazy Angel (7:41) / Ride In The Dark (Robotiko) (3:02) / Solalex (6:25)

Sigmund Snopek III - keyboards, synthesizer, flute and vocals; lead vocals (3, 8, 9)
Bryon Wiemann III - guitars and backing vocals; lead vocals (2, 6, 7, 11)
Mike Lucas - drums and percussion
Jim Gorton - bass and vocals; lead vocals (3, 4, 5)
Keith DeBolt - vocals
Betsy Kaské - vocals (5)
Ann Labotzka - harp (9)

The Bloomsbury People (1970/2003)
Virginia Woolf (1972/2002)
Trinity Seaseizesees (1974)
Nobody To Dream (1975)
Thinking Out Loud (1978/1996)
First Band On The Moon (1980/2002)
Roy Rogers Meets Albert Einstein (1982/2001)
Voodoo Dishes (aka Feeling American) (1982)
Wisconsinsane (1986/1989)
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1994) (reissue of Virginia Woolf with bonus tracks)
Music For Pipe Organ (1995)
Nobody To Dream (1997) (re-recorded version)
Beer (1998)
Trinity Seaseizesees (2000) 2-CD, re-recorded 1997-99, plus original tracks from 1973)
Jade (2003)
Elephant (?)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: February 28th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 565
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]