Live In Berlin

02 September 2002

CD: Angel Air SJPCD122
Re-release of "Live In Berlin" by Red Light Records from 1998

Peter Lincoln: guitars, charango, lead vocals
Henry Marsh: Nickelodeon, accordion, vocals
Grant Serpell: drums, percussion, vocals
Phil Pickett: bass Nickelodeon, vocals

A Glass Of Champagne
La Cumbia
Give Me Shakespeare
One Drink Too Many
Blame It On The Soft Spot
The Old Nickelodeon Sound
Mack The Knife
The Secretary
Stay The Night
Traffic Jam
Vera From Veracruz
La Bamba Medley
Girls Girls Girls
Pop Muzik - Ghostbusters Medley
Champagne Reprise

Songs written by Georg Kajanus except for:
Mack The Knife: Brecht, Weil
Stay The Night: Henry Marsh, Grant Serpell
La Bamba Medley - "La Bamba": R. Valens, "Volare": Modugno/Migliacci/Parish, "Banana Boat Song": Darling/Carey/Arkin
Pop Muzik - Ghostbusters Medley - "Pop Muzik": R.Scott, "Ghostbusters": R.Parker

Produced by SAILOR.
Engineered and mixed by Simon Gogerly.
Mixed at Strawberry Hills Studios, Gloucestershire, England.
Front cover photo by Katrin Wagner.
Additional photography Barry Ryan and Christel Müller.

Liner Notes - written by Rich Wilson in May 2002:

The lengthy history of SAILOR begins with a bizarre tale from France. Allegedly, one Monsieur Faux, the owner and manager of a Paris club called "Le Matelot" decided in the late 1940's that it was necessary for the house band to appear wearing the barg of sailors. Le Matelot is said to have been destroyed by fire in 1970, causing the two remaining house-band member Phil Pickett and Georg Kajanus to travel to London and, after meeting with Grant Serpell and Henry Marsh, forming the band SAILOR. And Although that story can be put in the realms of fantasy along with Leprechauns and dragons, it at least sets the backgrounds for one of the more innovative and interesting live acts to grace the country's stages over the last three decades.
Central to the stage show was the now famous 'Nickelodeon' - a bizarre instrument that consisted of two upright pianos, organs, synthesisers, and glockenspiels that were all assembled inside a sizeable timber box and held together by a random smattering of nails, wood glue and doorbell mechanism. Naturally, this created quite a stir, with the members of SAILOR perched around this insane musical creation, hammering away and played their own side of the machine, all within the stage set of a harbour town replete with street lamps and palm trees. Given this, you'd be forgiven for thinking that their first live performance may have been hidden away from view in some back street pub, where they could at least ease themselves into their novel method of performing. Yet this was not to be, as television producer Johnny Stewart had been impressed by their freshness at a recent Epic Records showcase. Finding himself needing a sudden replacement for a live "In Concert" broadcast on the BBC, in front of a bemused audience and even more confused and astounded cameramen. "I've never been so terrified in my whole life," recalls Kajanus now, adding "It's the sort of thing sane people wouldn't ever consider." Well quite.
Quickly gained influential friends within the industy due to their totally unique approach, support slots with Steve Harley and Kiki Dee followed, before they released their eponymous debut album in 1974. Despite huge success in Holland, the band were keen to agument these sales in the UK, and returned to tour extensively and release their most recognisable single in "A Glass Of Champagne" which hit the UK number one position, and the popular album, "Trouble".
The success of the single, coupled with their live reputation ensured that SAILOR became a popular act on the burgeoning live circuit of the time, as Grant Serpell recalls: "We regularly found ourselves mobbed by hundreds of fans before and after concerts, with only one panic stricken roadie to keep them at bay."
Indeed, one incident has gone down into SAILOR folklore as Grant remembers. "After one gig, on one of the occasions that Phil's wife, Ann, came to see us perform, a jealous fan even bit her on the arm!"
As you might also imagine, given it's somewhat slapdash construction, the Nickelodeon often had "technical problems", the major flaw is that only one person could repair it should it malfunction - Georg Kajanus. A fact that caused no end of problems if it went haywire during a gig. Fortunately, Henry Marsh was more than capable of entertaining the crowd with lengthy and humorous tales while the rest of the band set about the errant machine with screwdrivers and pliers.
A somewhat disappointing US tour followed, in which their manager, Steve O'Rourke (who was keen to break SAILOR into the lucrative American market) had placed them in support to inappropriate acts such as Tommy Bolin and Vanilla Fudge. There was also the famous occasion when, as support to country and western act Charlie Daniels, at which our hapless heroes walked to a sea of booing Stetsons in San Diego! The result was an early return to the UK, but they had already written enough material for their third album "The Third Step". Despite not selling as many copies as its' predecessor, the band still maintained their cult following and regularly sold out venues and made numerous TV appearances.
By 1977, Phil Pickett had decided to leave the band (later going on to great success in the Eighties as part of Culture Club, co-writing with Boy George 'Karma Chameleon') and he played no part in their next album "Checkpoint". Although he returned in time for their "final" concert in 1978, their form of entertainment, like many other artists of the day, had been roughly pushed aside by the brashness of punk.
Twelve years after the Nickelodeon had been prematurely laid to rest, a German promoter, Rainer Haas, contacted Phil to ask whether he could get the band together again to play to new audiences across Germany. It was an offer they could not refuse and they decided to dust down the Nickelodeon and hit the road. The full reunion performance occurred in Bad Segeberg, Germany on the 18th May 1991, when the band opened the town's open-air festival. Encouraged by their generous reception, a lengthy tour followed in 1994 accompanied by the release of a "Greatest Hits" compilation.
By 1995, Kajanus had decided to vacate his position within the band to develop other projects, and was replaced by the gifted and versatile Peter Lincoln. The recording that you hold in your hand now is taken from that era, and although devout fans may be disappointed by the absence of Kajanus, there can be no doubting the band's technical ability and a new youthful vigour. Apart from their recognisable classics in "A Glass Of Champagne" and "Girls Girls Girls", the inclusion of the standard "Mack The Knife" plus a curious mixing of "Pop Muzik" and the theme from the movie "Ghostbusters" adds a surprising edge to their performance.
Their standing as an accomplished SAILOR line-up was augmented by the release of the "Legacy" album, which comprised of four new tracks and the re-recorded and contemporary versions of 12 songs drawn from their history.
By the end of the 1990's, Henry Marsh left the band to pursue his interest in musical theatre, after co-composing with Phil their first musical score, 'Casper', which successfully debuted at the London's Shaftesbury Theatre in 2000. At this point the band line-up became relatively unstable and fluid, with Marsh being replaced by Anthony England, until England himself departed to be succeeded by Rob Alderton.
In 2002 the band SAILOR are continuing to perform and surprise audiences with their live antics. And there's even a new Nickelodeon taking centre stage which has been created by the band's "live technician" Graham Naylor, aided by SAILOR's keenest and youngest member, Rob "Baby Spice" Alderton.
It's been a long journey, but in a time often over-run by musical blandness, SAILOR remain intriguing.


"Live In Berlin" in "Modern Dance Magazine" (Issue 41):
Review by courtesy of Phil Pickett
SAILOR Live In Berlin. Angel Air SJPCD122
"Not sure if my credibility will slightly evaporate here, but I can't lie! When SAILOR originally released 'A Glass Of Champagne' and 'Girls Girls Girl's, I thought they were rather good. Quirky, catchy and hell, different from what was going on. Mind you, this was back in the 70's. They split in 1978 but reformed in 1990 and this recording is from 1991, 18th May actually.
(a note from MARINERO: that's not true, the album was recorded in late 1995!) Both the above singles are here with a cracking version of 'Mack The Knife', and a surprise cover of 'Pop Music' and .....'The Ghostbusters'! Sixteen tracks in all and whilst SAILOR certainly aren't making waves and testing the waters of experimentation, they're certainly having one hell of a time! Cracking production for a live album and out of the original line up 2 of the 4 are here. (another note from MARINERO: no, 3 are here - Phil,Grant and Henry!) One thing I didn't realise that Phil Pickett, when SAILOR originally split went to tread the boards with Culture Club (and co-wrote 'Karma Chameleon'). A fun album." (DW)

"Live In Berlin" (SJPCD122) - Alistair Flynn, Classic Rock Society (October 2002):
This is a live recording of one of their shows and includes all their hits…A good quality sound recording with a Bavarian and Latino feel to it…

"Live In Berlin"- Preview (October 2002):
All the excitement of old-pros rocking out and having a good time is here.

"Live In Berlin"- Record Collector (November 2002):
...SAILOR played an eclectic style of Nickelodeon-driven dluited Roxy Music...It actually works if you're in an open frame of mind...

"Live In Berlin" - in German music magazine "Good Times" (Issue 6/2002):
In the 70s SAILOR created a new pop sound with their Nickelodeon and had many hits like "A Glass Of Champagne", "Give Me Shakespeare", "One Drink Too Many" or "Girls Girls Girls". The Nickelodeon consisted of two pianos, an organ and synthesizers, and SAILOR even wrote an own song about this unique instrument ("The Old Nickelodeon Sound").
After their separation in 1978 the band re-united again in 1990 and released two more albums, before Georg Kajanus left in 1995. Nickelodeon-player Henry Marsh did the same at the end of the 90s. The two remaining members Phil Pickett (Nickelodeon, mandoline) and drummer Grant Serpell kept on performing together with the new members, lead vocalist / guitarist Peter Lincoln and Rob Alderton.
During a tour through Europe in Berlin and some other places in the line-up Marsh, Lincoln, Pickett and Serpell they recorded this Live-CD which reminds you of the SAILOR-typical mixture of lovely smart pop-, latino- swing- and rock-elements. The set also includes their very own interpretation of "Mack The Knife" from the Brecht/Weil "Dreigroschenoper".
An entertaining CD with songs that help to cheer you up on the long dark winter nights. By the way: Phil Pickett was also a member of 'Culture Club' and co-author of "Karma Chameleon"!

"Live In Berlin" - review by "Skylight" (2002):
It's one of the bands that never made it to reach the charts and now with this release from Angel Air, we have the chance to meet them. They are known for the "Nickleodeon" instrument that they use and it consists of two upright pianos, organs, synthesizers and glockenspies. The sound is what we call "happy tunes" that reminds me of Cheap Trick and Roxy Music, the same happy atmosphere exists in this live show in Berlin.

Review by Stirling News, June 2003:
SAILOR's original line-up enjoyed an impressive run of chart success in Britain and abroad during the mid-seventies… This live offering has been compiled from a selection of German concerts which SAILOR performed two decades later… embracing a string of golden oldies alongside covers of everything from 'Mack The Knife' to 'La Bamba'.

Review by Richie Unterberger:
It's titled Live in Berlin, but according to a small note in the booklet, "this album was recorded at various European concerts including Berlin in late 1995." It's a reunion version of the band, and one that's missing key member Georg Kajanus from the lineup. So it's really an extraneous souvenir for diehards, even if the sound quality is good and the performances reasonably spirited and accomplished. Their big mid-'70s British hits "Girls Girls Girls" and "A Glass of Champagne" are here, of course (as is their much smaller hit "One Drink Too Many"), with some less expected things like "Mack the Knife," a "La Bamba Medley," and a "Ghostbusters Medley" thrown in. The tone of much of the material reflects frivolous romps of the jet set through drink and casual affairs, though it's hardly going to make anyone forget Bryan Ferry.

Reviews from fans...

October 2002:
Still So Much Life on the Ocean Wave!
Already reunited with SAILOR via the Greatest Hits CD a while back, this lovely album arrived last week to continue the bliss. I said in my review of the earlier disk that SAILOR were a magnificent live act: such great material so brilliantly brought to life in performance. Well, the Greatest Hits proved my point about song-writing and then some. Now you have this excellent testament to the atmosphere and musicianship of their shows - as fresh as ever. The familiar songs of their early days come back to glorious life, perfectly reproduced and performed with all the original zest - along with a lovely "unplugged" take on their original single Traffic Jam. They've also added in some boppy medleys to generate further momentum, notably the Latin La Bamba sequence and the gleeful Pop Muzik/Ghostbusters extravaganza. In addition, there's a quite exquisite delivery of Mack the Knife by Phil Pickett; I played this track to my wife the first evening and asked "Who's this, then?" As soon as the lilting bass-synth kicked in her face lit up in recognition. They have that effect on us - but let me say emphatically that this isn't a nostalgia-trip, nor is the band in any way some kind of bubble-gum anachronism. They remain as timeless as all the best music usually does.
Rob, Abingdon, Oxfordshire UK

November 2003:
It's a reunion version of the band, that features dynamic selections, highlighted by the two hits SAILOR scored during 1975-1976 - "A Glass Of Champagne" and "Girls Girls Girls". From smoky dockside cabaret ("One Drink Too Many") to nostalgically tear-drenched music hall memories ("Mack The Knife"), to energetic Latin-spiced dance number ("La Cumbia"), to the ecologically prescient "Traffic Jam", SAILOR melded catchy melody to vibrant production, then layered heavenly harmonies over all, a trick comparable to either the Beach Boys or 10CC.

February 2003:
If you love SAILOR buy this CD. Its the culmination of over twenty years of unique SAILOR Music. I had the opportunity to see SAILOR live in Brussels in 1975 and this CD has all the energy and fun that I witnessed all those years ago. Despite having some new members, the music is fresh and vibrant. They perform as though the music is new. I can't wait to see them "live" again just to listen to that "Old Nickelodeon Sound"

John W. Hart, Watertown, NY United States

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