"Straight to the Krankenhaus" (The Laser's Edge; 2007 / 1975)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

“Straight to the Krankenhaus” is Secret Oyster’s fourth official release – and second to receive special re-release treatment via The Laser’s Edge. Secret Oyster’s magnificent blend of jazz-rock fusion impresses this time around as well.

“Straight to the Krankenhaus” is a bit more relaxed and studied than the band’s debut. Even if one wouldn’t care to call it experimental, it is certainly unconventional – which is an argument enough for calling it a truly progressive effort. “Straight to the Krankenhouse” is much more in a Pink Floyd type of mode – where mood plays a significant role in direct opposition to fusion’s typically earnest technical aspects.

As is expected, keyboards and guitars play prominent roles in the music, but surprisingly saxophones carry the melody on most tunes.

The fact that “Straight to the Krankenhaus” is an all-instrumental affair appeals to my ears. There’s plenty to discover as the band easily transitions between mellow sections and parts with more grit – “Straight to the Krankenhaus” is a well-thought out and well-played album.

Fans of good music, especially fans of fusion, should not let the fact that “Straight to the Krankenhaus” is more than three decades old prevent them from seeking this re-issue. It has a timeless quality lacking on most albums.

This Laser’s Edge re-issue contains two bonus tracks.

“Straight to the Krankenhaus” was produced by Poul Bruun.

Secret Oyster: Karsten Vogel on saxophones; Kenneth Knudsen on electric piano; Claus Bohling on guitar; Jess Staehr on bass; and Ole Streenberg on

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"Secret Oyster" (The Laser's Edge; 2007 / 1973)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Fusion is a word thrown about all too easily as the style covers a lot of ground sonically. Fusion really got its start way back in the 70s from various jazz artists attempting to add rock to their sound and progressive rock artists including more jazz to their sound. What’s interesting is that, while I’m still listening to metal pretty regularly, I’m trying to phase out the sheer number of hours that I listen to classic rock and replace that time with time well spent listening to jazz.

In an attempt to hear fusion in an expansive, illuminating way I’ve explored other fusion classics like Weather Report’s “Heavy Weather” and Return to Forever’s debut. Secret Oyster’s debut CD is a terrific combination of rock and jazz – a true example of fusion that fits nicely along the more popular and well-known examples of early 70s fusion classics.

As an all-instrumental effort, “Secret Oyster” relies on the skills of the musicians. Understandably, keyboards dominate in certain sections, but guitars have plenty of shining moments as well. The bass/drum combination is the quintessential rhythm section that is both propulsive and sturdy at the same time. In fact, a drum solo fits nicely in the middle of “Vive la Quelle?” – the song evolves so naturally that you never actually hear the drum solo start, but there it is in full glory when slowly you realize that it is the only instrument being played.

Secret Oyster’s self-titled debut makes me wonder if Porcupine Tree’s Stephen Wilson has ever cited Secret Oyster as an influence. I suppose if I had the time I could go back and listen to a lot of Santana’s older material and get the same kind of vibes. I hear a lot of smart type of jazz that Steely Dan might be associated with – at least in terms of their musicianship, but not necessarily their soul-revue revisionism.  Occasional Pink Floyd-ish moments like the spacey sounds heard on the bonus track “Orlaver” add depth to the musical palette that broadly defined Secret Oyster’s musical playground.

“Secret Oyster” is an amazing gem that should have been given its due long before now. This Laser’s Edge reissue includes two bonus tracks.

“Secret Oyster” was produced by Secret Oyster.

Secret Oyster is Karsten Vogel on soprano sax, alto sax, and organ; Kenneth Knudsen on electric piano; Claus Bohling on guitar; Mads Vinding on bass; and Bo Thrige Andersen on drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:21 -0400 .