There's an intriguing little subplot in the way Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream appeared to shadow each other's movements in the early eighties. Tangerine Dream recruited someone who could really play a keyboard in the classical idiom, Johannes Schmoelling, in 1980. Shortly thereafter, Schulze got Rainer Bloss on board: he'd studied piano at the Franz Liszt Hochschule für Musik in Weimar.
On the two occasions I saw Klaus, in March 1983 in Munich and the following month in Lewisham, Bloss was playing with him. This album was recorded by the pair that July, and, at the time, I thought it was a roughly similar set to those I saw. On the sleeve Klaus feels the need to explain why he put this out:
I know that I said at the time of my first live album in 1980 that that was it — I wouldn't do another one, but "Poland Live" was unavoidable. Why? … Whilst on tour in poland we were utterly taken aback by the live atmosphere, by the concerts and by the Poles themselves. The vibes were great, the audiences throughout the tour were really into the music and this postive energy charged Rainer Bloss and myself to such a degree that we played some of our best concerts in Poland.
The second side, Warsaw, lives up to that billing. Some incredibly inventive — and extended soloing — treading the ground between rockist screwed-up eyes and hard bop blowing and wailing — allied to sequencing that was very subtle for its time. Wikipedia says this piece is based on Cellistica from Audentity, but there's definitely the hook from Tango-Saty in there. It's proof that in 1983 at least, electronic music wasn't just a matter of loading up the presets and pressing the Start button. There's real sweat in these performances.
Each kilobyte of storage probably cost what a terabyte costs now. And Klaus was at the forefront of sampling: Lodz is a live performance of Ludwig II von Bayern from his X album. They played this as the final encore at the Munich gig I went to, and I was astonished at how these two guys seemed to be making the sound of a full orchestral string section. On this album, Klaus namechecks his Fairlight, along with his Mini-Moog and other brand names of the era, in the final piece, Dziekuje: "These are the members of my band," he says.
Nevertheless, if the extended soloing weren't evidence enough that, culturally, Klaus is from a different contintent to his fellow countrymen Kraftwerk, then the photo-collage inside the gatefold sleeve should provide incontrovertible proof. Klaus in pink jumpsuit, Klaus hanging upside down in the tour bus, two women with backstage passes stuck to the seat of their jeans (faces not shown), Rainer flashing a peace sign, hairy roadies. In this it follows a tradition established by the likes of Seconds Out and Encore, but rudely snuffed out a year or two later by Spinal Tap.
Meanwhile, Tangerine Dream followed Klaus to Poland later in 1983, and released the recordings as a double live album called Poland — also rather good, as I remember it.
MusicBrainz entry for this album
Wikipedia entry for this album
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Some metadata about this album at Last.fm
Listen to disc 1 in full at Spotify, disc 2