From the basement - CD reissue (1998)
Click here for more information about the original LP, released in 1984.
The version released by Hux Records is inferior (both in sonic quality as packaging quality) to the Pseudonym issue. It also has a lot of indexing problems and an incorrect tracklist.
JAN AKKERMAN 'FROM THE BASEMENT' Liner notes:
T.E. Lawrence once said: "All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible. This I did." (Seven Pillars Of Wisdom) So did I. And still the sound lingers on of that great period in Rock music for me. Actually there was talk about doing a new Focus CD at that time, but I didn't want the rock material to become part of the Focus project just like that. Van Leer always loathed rock music as not being his cup of tea (Later to embrace it for reasons I surely can guess]. Anyway we did From The Basement in something short of 2 weeks (as usual composing, etc. on the spot. Some musicians in Holland get subsidised for that.) I had a contract with C.B.S. that stated that I had to finish this thing in time. With all pleasure of course but it felt like having one man's leg & one woman's leg. One leg wants to sit down and the other one won’t bend so I was bound to miss the bowl. (On the Focus thing) Before I knew I was recording one thing and the next time the other without trying to interfere with the grand plan of Focus. Impossible but as the thing rolled along I really started to enjoy my R&B roots again and had some real good fun playing the old Brainbox stuff which at that time started reminding me more & more of what ZZ Top did later, at a , how to say it, broader level, so to speak. I always liked the power of the Drums, Guitar, Bass & Vocals thing as I do in the 2nd half of this album. I even had a crack at it myself but I still have the feeling that they’re going to put the garbage cans out in China when they play this particular song on the Radio or something. I'm not much of a ladies’ hairdresser, I guess. Well, the Focus thing blew up in my face and I re‑read the book "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance" & L.O.A. to find my balance again. To illustrate these thoughts and feelings I put on some Guitarsynth stuff.
They are sort of impressions of a tour through France where I wound up in "Locronan" which, as they do in Britain, has exactly been preserved the way it was in the 12th Century. God !, I love that stuff ! (On the 20th Century's horse.) It's like a drive I took in the country near Chipping Norton [Mike Vernon's old Studio] and wound up in the "Tews" (which are even older I think than “Locronan”). where I also had a shock of "reconnaissance"(excuse my French) and started thinking about playing the lute (not loot, but maybe, like Robin Hood, I should kill the sherif of Nottingham]. Purely inspired by what I saw and felt. R&R of the Crusaders then and now!
Some additional notes on From The Basement:
When From The Basement was released in the autumn of 1984 with CBS, Jan was up to his ears in the new Focus project which was brought out in March 1985. Contractual obligations had to be fulfilled and the album was recorded under great pressure of time, partly due to the Focus sessions. Because of this one might call it striking that the music on From The Basement nevertheless manages to create a very relaxed atmosphere and nothing whatsoever of this pressure of time has sneaked its way in on the album itself. For this reason it’s interesting for you, the listener, to know what sort of equipment Jan used at that time and what was to be the ultimate result thereof.
On From The Basement Jan uses the Roland G-707 guitar synthesizer. This new model caused a veritable revolution in the guitar world, since it had become possible to produce an infinite variety of sounds with ‘just a guitar and a small box'. Jan has been using the Roland GR300 extensively since 1979, which he used for the first time during a European tour with the pianist Joachim Kühn. Already with this model it was possible to achieve an enormous variety in sounds and effects. On the albums Transparental (with Kaz Lux), Oil In The Family and Pleasure Point (also released by Pseudonym) the GR-300 has a prominent presence and these albums are excellent examples of guitarsynth records. During the recording sessions for From The Basement Jan used the G-707 in combination with the GR-300 and GR-700 for the first time. Jan says about this: “the 700 is more complex, you need to learn how to handle a guitar synthesizer, just like an ordinary guitar. Furthermore a guitar synthesizer is far more expressive than an ordinary synthesizer. You have to take things such as tone formation, touch, etc. into account. To top it off the modules I have that go with it are very sensitive as for touch”. In addition to all this guitar resonance, Jan also programs the Linndrum computer on this album, for drummer Hans Waterman can only be heard on 'All Along The Watchtower'. “I put some effects on the Linn, so that every beat on the snare drum sounds differently. This gives an impression of a real live drummer playing”. The musical technology is very important, just as on the preceding album Can’t Stand Noise, but that album sounded rather austere and clinical in some numbers.
The first track of From The Basement is a blustery opener, entitled 'Headbanger'. It sounds as a solid preamble and as a composition Jan didn’t get around to in the past: an unabashedly loud, swinging piece of rock music which sounds convincingly and unequivocally sets the tone of the rest of the album. Jan already recorded this number on an 8-track Teac Recorder in 1982, but it has been re-mixed by sound technician Theo Baijon. It’s good to hear how Jan is living it up and wrenches one guitar solo after another from his guitar and yet reverts to the theme time and again. Following this opener is 'All Along The Watchtower', something quite different. A reggae version of this evergreen, lasting well over 14 minutes. In this number you can hear an entire guitarsynth tour-de-force. We hear underlying synth sounds, varied with a rhythm part and a solo part. All three parts were played in on the G-707 and alternate each other, sometimes in the form of a combination with each other and sometimes purely in support of the vocals of bass guitar player Dino Walcott, his pumping bass lines and the drum work of Hans Waterman. In spite of the length of this piece of music it is very engaging from a musical point of view, the more so if you make a point of it to look for it specifically. Jan: “I recorded this number because I like the lyrics so much. The chord sequence is relatively simple, but from a “guitaresque” point of view a lot is happening in this number. Next to this track we find another cover, namely a version of the good old 'Dark Rose', a hit for Brainbox in October 1969. In this version we not only hear Jan play all instruments, also the lead vocals are his! A short but more powerful version which concluded the first side of the LP. 'Wallenberg' is, as is 'Headbanger', a number which Jan had already recorded as an 8-track demo. Again it’s Jan’s voice we hear, expressing the terror Raoul Wallenberg had experienced as a refugee in World war II. The number has a serious undertone, completed with a funky rhythm and a beautifully expanding solo. The middle part in particular, right before “...I am walking through the meadows in the hills...” is down right 'shiver me timbers” material.
The title track 'From The Basement' is basically one elaborate solo on an adapted GR-300 Strat, in which Jan, just as in 'Headbanger' plays various solos round the theme that is to be heard in the beginning of the number. My advice is: warn the neighbours, get everybody out of the house and turn up the volume to 10! At times you’ll find that the guitar seems to push its way out of the speakers. In 'P.C.B. Chicken' Jan was inspired by ZZ Top, in the style of the rock ‘n roll boogie. Jan said about this in 1984: ”Last year I saw a ZZ Top concert which hit me like a sledgehammer. I thought there lie my roots! Some fifteen years ago I played the same sort of music with Brainbox as ZZ Top does now and they focussed my attention to that with that concert. Especially live Brainbox was what ZZ Top is now. In 'P.C.B. Chicken' I don’t imitate them, I use them as a source of inspiration.” Jan sings in this number a few improvised lyrics, entirely in sync with the number itself. By way of a playful finale of the album we find 'Status Quo', with Dino Walcott playing the mouth organ, who bursts out in laughter and doesn’t know how to go on. This number typifies the atmosphere of spontaneity they all experienced during the recording sessions of this album. Jan: “We were all standing together in the control room, while Dino was standing in the studio with his mouth organ. We were laughing our heads off, while the drum machine kept on going, an then Dino also started to laugh. Jan uses a Leslie-effect on his guitar in this number, just as he does a lot on his first solo album Talent For Sale in 1968.
The bonus tracks that can be found on this first CD reissue of From The Basement consist for the greater part of a session with bass guitar player Freddy Cavalli, recorded in Jan’s garage in 1988 entitled 'The Love Is Uneven Suite'. From a musical point of view this session is a prolongation of the From The Basement material. This session is also very interesting because of its structure, the variations in the guitar sounds and the solo that Jan plays. First of all we hear Freddy sing during the intro 'She Let Me Do What I Want', then Jan breaks loose on his guitarsynth 'Blues From The Tews'. Next to a synth opening, entitled 'Cherubim & Sepharim' we hear a pyrotechnic guitar solo with blood-and-guts drum work which never seem to come to an end, starting off with 'She Can’t Say Don’t', 'Took Her To Locronan', and next 'Then Rollright Stones', which sounds like a further elaboration of the theme. 'No More Parking' heralds the end of this session, in which Jan manages to pass in revue all the themes that had been played. In addition to this session there are two more bluesy compositions on the album, entitled 'When I Was A Cocktail In A Waitress Bar' and 'Ellington’s Way'. It is to be hoped that From The Basement, one of Jan Akkerman’s most interesting albums, with this reissue on CD for once will get the attention it merits. Also because of the bonus tracks everybody has been served hand and foot, in particular of course all those fans who couldn’t lay their hands on the (rare) LP version.