If you aren’t familiar with this German band, then this is not the place to begin. It would be tantamount to going to see Wagner’s The Ring Cycle as your introduction to an operatic experience. It’s brilliant, but bewildering.
However, if you are already a fan of what this band did, then you will love the way their entire output has been brought together across these two box sets.
The bigger of the two is 79:10, and if you’re wondering where that title comes from, then all is explained in an exhaustive 92-page booklet. What you get on 17 CDs is every album the band released between 1972 and 1990, and each has carefully selected bonus tracks. The fact that founder members Lupo and Eroc have been heavily involved in the whole process adds to the real sense that the set has been thoughtfully pieced together. There’s a strong focus on authenticity and a desire to ensure the added material enhances what was on the original albums, as opposed to merely expanding them for the sake of quantity.
What Grobschnitt did throughout their career was constantly manoeuvre themselves into a position where everyone expected them to musically change with each record. And this becomes startlingly obvious as you work your way through more than 22 hours of music across those CDs, from their psychedelic origins through to a more symphonic stance, onwards to what’s known as NDW (new wave with electronic inflections) and finally into a pop rock phase.
If you listen to these albums back to back, you’ll wonder how the same band could make all of these records. This is where the info provided by Lupo and Eroc becomes insightful. And for once, a box set booklet isn’t merely there to add extra weight to the package, but actually shows that a lot of effort has been put into making it a valuable ally.
As if this wasn’t enough, we have a second Grobschnitt box set as well. This one concentrates on Solar Music, the band’s finest composition. From second album Ballermann, this became live tour de force, leading to Solar Music Live in ’78, an extended live version of this suite. But Solar Movie features their celebrated performance of this from the famed German TV show Rockpalast in the same year.
This has long passed into Grobschnitt folklore, and now can be relived not just on DVD, but also on CD and vinyl in this collection. For added measure there’s also another live performance from Berlin in 1978.
Both boxes are essential for diehard fans.