Xhol Caravan

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Xhol Caravan
Origin Germany
Genres Krautrock
Years active 1967–1972
Labels CBS Records, Hansa Records, Ohr/Metronome Records
Website www.xhol.de
Past members James Rhodes
Ronnie Swinson
Tim Belbe
Gerhardt Egmont "Öcki" Von Brevern
Hansi Fischer
Werner Funk
Gilbert "Skip" van Wych III
Klaus Briest

Xhol Caravan, known first as Soul Caravan and later as simply Xhol, was one of the first bands participating in the launch of the Krautrock movement in Germany in the late 1960s. Their music draws from varied influences and fuses rhythm and blues and free jazz with a psychedelic rock sensibility. The members of the band at various times consisted of James Rhodes and Ronnie Swinson, vocals; Tim Belbe, saxophones; Gerhardt Egmont "Öcki" Von Brevern, Hammond organ; Hansi Fischer, flutes and saxophones; Werner Funk, electric guitar; Gilbert van Wych III (credited as "Skip" on most albums), drums and percussion; and Klaus Briest, bass guitar.

History[edit]

Soul Caravan[edit]

Their first album, Get In High, appeared on the German CBS label in 1967. It exemplifies the band's early "soul" sound, and features black American vocalists James Rhodes and Ronnie Swinson. Get In High featured a remake of the classic American soul tune "Shotgun" and original compositions that incorporated African-American themes and elements, including "Kerd-I-Wai (African Song)" and "So Much Soul." The live recordings Soul Caravan: Live 1969, Altena 1969, and Xhol 1970 feature a similar R&B sound as well, but also include improvisational pieces stretching in some cases well beyond 25 minutes in length. The "Freedom Opera," heard on the 2001 Motherfuckers Live album but recorded in 1968, clocks in at nearly 50 minutes.

Xhol Caravan[edit]

Their second album, Electrip, was released with the group's name changed to Xhol Caravan. On the record, the group moved away from its earlier R&B roots and the vocals were taken over by American drummer Skip Van Wych as James Rhodes and Ronnie Swinson had quit and returned to the United States. On Electrip, Xhol Caravan fused free jazz and psychedelic rock together with a satirical, sometimes X-rated, sense of humor and studio manipulation of sounds and timbres.

Xhol[edit]

After Electrip, the band released two more albums, both on the small Ohr label and both with the band name reduced to Xhol to avoid possible confusion with the British Canterbury Scene group Caravan. The 1970 album Hau-RUK contains two 20-minute-plus improvisations recorded live in a German bar earlier that year. Xhol's last LP, Motherfuckers GmbH & Co. KG consists of several pieces recorded more or less live in the studio. Many Xhol fans regard MF as the group's high point in spite of the patchwork nature of the record. It was recorded in 1970, but released only in 1972 due to creative differences between Xhol's members and Ohr label boss Ralf-Ulrich Kaiser. These differences even influenced the packaging for MF: although Ohr/Metronome usually lavished great care on the sleeves for its records—commissioning custom artwork with glossy lamination and gatefolds for even single LPs—the sleeve for MF was perfunctory at best. It was a cheap, matte laminated single sleeve featuring a photograph of what appeared to be the master tape box for MF, smudged and worn, surrounded by a garish orange frame. There was no information about the band, nor pictures or text of any kind save the handwritten titles of the songs on the record and the words "2 years old" scrawled crudely with green permanent marker on the front. In spite of such austerity, the music on MF offers the listener very good studio recordings of the group, and shows them combining rock and jazz elements and forging into experimental Hammond organ drone/minimalism.

Discography[edit]

  • 1967 Get in High (studio recording). CBS Records, Germany only LP.
  • 1969 Soul Caravan: Live 1969. Never released on LP; CD released on Garden of Delights label.
  • 1969? Soul Caravan: Talking to My Soul (live televised performances). DVD released on Garden of Delights label.
  • 1969 Altena 1969 (live recording). Never released on LP. CD released on Garden of Delights label.
  • 1969 Electrip (studio recording). Hansa Records, Germany only LP. LP rerelased on TripKick Records; CD released on Garden of Delights label. Bootleg CD version on Germanofon label.
  • 1970 Xhol 1970 (live recording). Never released on LP. CD released on Garden of Delights label.
  • 1970 Hau-RUK (live recording). Ohr/Metronome Records, Germany only LP. CD on Garden of Delights label. Bootleg version (incorrectly titled "Hau-RUCK") released on Germanofon label.
  • 1972 Motherfuckers GmbH & Co. KG (studio recording). Ohr/Metronome Records, Germany only LP. CD reissues on the Spalax and ZYX/Ohr labels. Bootleg CD on the Germanofon label. Recent limited edition LP reissue on Wah-Wah Records (Spain).
  • 2001 Motherfuckers Live (live recordings from 1968–69). CD on United Durtro label, LP release on Streamline Records.

References[edit]