Heartware - Reissue (1998)
Click here for more information about the regular version, released in 1987
Click here for more information about the alternative version, released in 1988.
On this version, there's an uncredited bonus-track. See if you can spot it and let us know what you think it is !
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 errors. For the best "value for money", go for the Pseudonym release... and you will get another extra bonus track !
The Russian counterfeit that was supposedly released in 1999 doesn't have the extensive liner notes, but does have a lot of printing errors on the simple inlay.
JAN AKKERMAN 'HEARTWARE' Liner notes:
'HEARTWARE' is about taking rides in the night on your bike somewhere in the east of Holland where the studio happened to be (Normaal Studios owned by one of the local top bands called "Normaal") lots of beer, etc... I never forgot that Bennie (The lead singer of Normaal) had to check out if the streets were even enough and broke his wrist over an off the road furnace called Yasomething (hedge clipper). So I did 5 gigs because he had heard that my playing wasn't too bad and asked me to do some for the folks out there. I said that I wouldn't take responsibility for any demented Iraqi Kurds that had escaped execution and was in the most dangerous situation in my life. Beer cans flying around, hay, false teeth, real teeth, bras, knickers etc. I was just grateful that my fingers didn’t get stuck between the fretboard and the strings cause I probably would wind up just as bad as: ....you name it. At the same time I realised that in order to stay true to my metier I'll had to proceed with what I was doing there. Playing tunes like 'Lost & Found' gave me so much satisfaction that it became clearer that the choice I made 25 years before was a difficult but true one, namely: That it is easy to give in to what people understand of guitar playing, which is not that much. There are more people who don't know how to play the thing then people who do and it's obscene to see & hear how it's being misused on a basis of self assumed importance on someone else’s behalf and craftsmanship, thinking there doing the right thing by confirming the plumber’s idea of how to play the thing. Realizing this again I had to go for the bull’s eye (Watch the word "Bull"). Not that I know everything about music & everything attached to it but one has to try the utmost in that area trying to create your own thing. I know a guy who has been doing everything I do in reverse, for 25 years now. So instead he comes, he goes & keeps singing back so I sort of jump over my own shadow with this music. Anyway it's a pleasure to see my work back on tracks and racks.
Some additional notes on Heartware
Subsequent to the Focus fiasco of 1985, during which Jan had collected enough courage to play with Thijs van Leer again, Jan started to work with computers and other MIDI equipment. In addition to a tour with Adje van den Berg and Julya Lo’ko in 1986, Jan was working on home demos, which were perfected in the recording studio of the Dutch band Normaal at Zelhem. During these sessions Jan was supported for the first time on drums by Ton Dijkman (ex-Bertus Bongers, ex-Lo’ko She-Bangl), who had worked as a session musician for a great many artists. Jan had discovered him in the Jazz club Birdland at Alkmaar, a joint where Jan did a lot of jamming and ran into Tom at that place. The bass guitar is played Michaël Peet (ex-T.C. Matic, ex-Lo’ko She-Bangl). The joint efforts of these three musicians would eventually result in the album Heartware. Jan’s rock-roots since the album From The Basement may have been slumbering, but on this album you will find out that they have been fully revived. However, you will also discover that he is dabbling at New Age like compositions. As on the albums Pleasure Point and From The Basement the guitar synthesiser has found a prominent place, but the use of the famous Framus J.A. guitar is a welcome surprise.
The opening track 'My Pleasure' is a genuine Akkerman classic. The first version of this number (no less than 19 minutes long) is to be found on the Focus album of 1985, on which van Leer in particular lived it up, but Jan felt dissatisfied about ever since. He felt it could be much shorter, terser and most importantly be better. This version opens with a percussion solo of Ton Dijkman entwined with Jan’s murmuring drum computer and constitutes the introduction of the best version of this number ever to be recorded, including the guitar synthesizer with the piano module.
Also the second track 'Just Because So I' is one of the compositions which Jan revises on a regular basis for a new version. Jan himself says about this method of working: “I just love to revise old numbers and record them again”. It often results then in a composition on a composition. In the case of 'Just Because', I haven’t as yet made up my mind how I’m going to play it, the one version or maybe go for the other one after all... 'Lost & Found' is a beautiful, languishing piece, with thrashing power chords on the guitar and a solid underground provided by the rhythm section Dijkman-Peet. Far more tranquil is the title song of this album, in which Jan plays all instruments except for the drums. The bass lines are played in by him on an old 6-string Gibson bass guitar, in short Heartware is an unequivocally beautiful piece of music with a melancholic melody. Following this number are two numbers which are typical for the New Age work Jan was dabbling in at that time. First there is 'Winterborn, Lyric', which features subdued and low key synthesizer parts and after that 'Lonely Street Of Dreams', with stomping bass riffs and unexpected drum fills of Ton Dijkman. A restrained atmosphere typifies these pieces of music and Jan was to produce a great many more like them in the future. The album Heartware closes with an unplugged composition called 'Firenze', inspired by that beautiful, ancient Italian town of that name. In actual fact this number is more or less an unplugged reprise of the number 'Heartware'. Nowadays this number is still played by Jan during unplugged concerts. I’m sure everybody will agree that the second half of Heartware in particular is undisputedly very interesting from a musical point of view and opens new musical doors.
It may well be that Heartware is the best-kept secret of the albums Jan Akkerman recorded in the eighties. When the record was released in 1987 even dogs disdained pissing against it and those who wanted to buy it had great trouble in finding it. It was released on Jan’s own Skydancer label (label number JA OO7!!) and the record (CD) never made it across the Dutch borders. In spite of the fact that the record was very rare, many fans consider Heartware to be the best record Jan ever recorded. Jan himself was to re-record part of the album for the CD The Noise Of Art, which was released in 1990, not only in the Netherlands , but in a great many other countries as well. The announced album with New Age and film scores was shelved, in spite of the positive attitude of producer Miles Copeland towards this material. Jan’s own future plans were crushed when he was involved in a terrible car wreck accident in North Holland in August 1992. Fortunately he recovered quickly and recorded the CDs Puccini’s Cafe and Blues Hearts shortly after this. At present Jan Akkerman still plays the national and international stages with his Jan Akkerman Band made up by Ton Dijkman, Nico Brandsen on keyboards and Manuel Hugas on bass guitar and with Focus In Time and the live document 10.000 Clowns On A Rainy Day Jan leaves his mark for the umptieth time.
The bonus tracks on this CD are unplugged in part, but on four pieces Jan is accompanied by his present-day rhythm section Ton Dijkman (drums) and Manuel Hugas (bass guitar). The experiments with various percussion-elements particularly stand out in 'Fire From Heaven' and 'Luxemburg'. Also because of the style and atmosphere of the bonus tracks they constitute an excellent addition to the album Heartware. Subsequent to Pleasure Point and From The Basement, Heartware is the third album which has deservedly been re-released and fortunately for the Jan Akkerman fans they weren’t made to wait any longer for its release, if only because of its 'beautiful sleeve'!