Ben Granfelt Band - Kaleidoscope

 

After the waves of the "band and fan wars" hit me, I promised not to comment/review neither Wishbone Ash nor Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash releases anymore. Well, Ben Granfelt Band is different, especially when Ben asked for it himself. Here goes...

 

There's a good reason for the album to be called "Kaleidoscope": Each song differs from the previous and the next one. There are a few exceptions, of course, but they're there for a good reason. Although Kaleidoscope is a varied album, it's not "blotchy" since there is a strange coherence in the album. Maybe because it's got a band feel to it. Whatever they play, it sounds like Ben Granfelt Band.

The band has been augmented with a keyboard player: Kasper Mårtenson. He's a good catch. Tasty organ, synth and electric piano fills and solos appear here and there. This is also the fist studio album with John "Groovemaster" Vihervä on bass. Although his predecessor was and is a highly respected professional, in my mind "Mr. Groovemaster" suits BGB like no one else. The mainstays Miri Miettinen on drums and Ben Granfelt himself; Do I need to mention them? Most of you know the band. Many of you have even seen them, so you know who they are.

Here's my comments, track-by-track. Remember that they are just my opinions. I do not possess any more "musical wisdom" than any other average bloke, so feel free to disagree. After you've bought the album, of course.

Julie

Paste is a German, Cream influenced, band. I can't help hearing a bit of "Taste" in them too… Anyway, Ben heard their original version of Julie and liked it so much that he made a spiced-up cover version of it. Spiced-up means Ben expanded the lyrics a bit. This is the first proof of Kasper's keyboard wizardry: The original version lacks the keyboards but BGB's version is "fuller" because of Kasper. There's also a tasty organ solo and a dual solo with Ben.

Guess this is chosen as the opener because it's a "heavy pop song" that could easily be played on radio. Here's hoping…

Because We Can...

At the record release party, Ben told the audience that the track title is a reply to people (mostly women) asking why BGB plays instrumentals. I tried to look for an angry woman in the audience, but guess they took it as a joke. Everybody smiled.

The tune itself is a groovy instrumental with a Morse code riff in the beginning and at the end. There's a slight homage to Cream in the middle section. Excellent synth solos by Kasper on both sides of a solo by Ben.

Dead in the Water

Nice melodic song. Hadn't heard David Gray's original version before I heard BGB's cover version. Now I've heard it too. It's not easy to compare how the cover differs from the original when one hears the versions in wrong order.

Well BGB need not be ashamed of their version. Like in Julie, BGB's version is "fuller".

Soul Searching

Actually, this instrumental tune is an introduction to the next song. This one has Ben and Kasper only. At the record release party, Ben told that he hasn't listened that much to Pink Floyd but he has listened to Dave Gilmour. You can hear it on this song. Also: Kasper has listened to Rick Wright. To me Kasper's playing is paying tribute to the late great Rick. Think of Wish You Were Here, the parts dominated by Gilmour and Wright.

This Soul of Mine

The previous tune continues as a song where Miri and John joins in. Don't know whether the lyrics are really personal or not, but they sound like it. Lyrics can of course be written based on observations of other people's lives but with the viewpoint changed to a more personal one. It makes the song more interesting to listeners.

I like the end of this song. Ben goes down to very low notes, just like Dave Gilmour. Cool.

You Ain't Got Nothing on Me

This is a driving rock song where Ben sings to someone trying to control Ben's life. Sounds very personal which is proved by the fact that an excerpt of this song's lyrics is on Ben's site's biography page. Groovy electric piano solo by Kasper.

Listened to this album and this particular song a few days ago while driving to work. A small bird sat on a telephone wire and just as I came closer, it dropped down like a stone. I watched in amazement when at the last moment the bird opened her wings and flew away. It was like she was telling me that she's in control of her life: "You Ain't Got Nothing on Me" or "I'm All I Want to Be".

Bright Lights and Dreams

A jazzy song where the lyrics go back in time to the singer's youth. Again, it's something that sounds very personal.

Contains a start-stop riff and ooh, I like the electric piano solo. Then later on, both the piano and the guitar trade licks. Yummy! Although the lyrics seem to be telling a story of one's youth the players are grown up pros playing tasty music.

Make Up My Mind with My Heart

A bluesy, medium tempo shuffle. That description may give the impression that this one's simple, but it's my favourite song. The title says it all: be honest to yourself. One of the highlights are the emotional solos by Ben. Excellent!

One interesting thing: The lyrics of this song are very different on the CD booklet. Seems to me the lyrics were honed to the very last minute. Doesn't it mean, the lyrics were important to Ben.

Lia

Beautiful little instrumental ditty with Ben and Kasper playing. Miri and John take a break. This is a fitting intro to the next song that's a ballad. My only "complaint" is that this is too short.

What Comes Around Goes Around

I'd like to know who this one is about. No matter, it suits any girl who thinks life is being one of the Bratz. My apologies to possible Bratz fans: I'm too old to believe that life is just a chain of fashion shows. Quoting Zappa: "There's more of us ugly Motherf*ckers, so watch out!" ;-)

Back to the song: First Ben plays a nice solo using clean sound. The latter solo has more "oomph" to it.

Suburban Blues Jam

A slow bluesy instrumental. May easily be forgotten since it's the last tune on the album. Try shuffle mode and it stands out. Ben and Kasper take turns in playing tasty solos. A fine tune to cool down with.

- -

Final words: An excellent continuation to Ben Granfelt Band's story. Long may it continue!

- -

Note.
If this seems familiar, I originally published this review at the Wishbone Ash forums, in the Former Members Forum.

 

Written by: Rainer Frilund - Last update: Aug, 2009