Taken from "Musik Express" issue December 1976


Nearly no other British band was as successful as SAILOR on the German record market. And the four musicians Georg Kajanus, Phil Pickett, Grant Serpell and Henry Marsh have been the favourites of the audience as well as most rock-critics - one of the many phenomenons that you see everywhere in SAILOR.

Jointly responsible for the big success of the band is certainly the fact that they seem rather "camp", that they have managed to update certain traditional styles, by using an intentional and shrewd overemphasis for those styles. Georg Kajanus, who worked out the details of the SAILOR idea and put the band somewhere between the ship "Gorch Fock", shrimp-cocktails and "pimps and prostitutes", had to fight very hard to get people interrested in his sweeping concept: He argued with his record company for a long time before he got the deal. Today, after good LP-ales especially on the German market and the three big hits "A Glass Of Champagne", "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Stiletto Heels", the label sticks completely to SAILOR: Success creates followers and friends.
But you also have to wonder why bands like SAILOR manage to sell any more than a few thousand records. For example, as well as the Rollers or Sweet, SAILOR only managed to get about twelvethousand visitors into the Philipshalle in Düsseldorf during their last German tour; so where are the record buyers?? There were no "coincidence-visitors" either: The 1200 people behind the band sang along to all the lyrics, no matter whether they were eight or fifty years old - Contradiction wherever you look. Georg Kajanus doesn't understand this himself, but he thinks that the wide range of the audience that they attract is enjoyable and intended. He doesn't want to hear anything about target groups for which any kind of business company aims (and what else is a popgroup?): "We see ourselves only as entertainers, and if we can attract so many different people, that's simply fantastic."
In fact SAILOR are the perfect entertainers, who prudently draw a line between show and private life; they would never go to bed with their stage make-up like e.g. the guitarrist of Kiss. In contrast to the slightly
wicked image of the official SAILOR-boys there is the normal, British-serious behaviour aside from the stage: Grant Serpell doesn't ask the promotion-crew-lady Dominica for groupies or drugs, but explains in "Oxford-English" that the band and the record company have signed a contract that both sides should try to fulfil as good as possible. How true!
Maybe this is just because of the maturity and
Savvy of the band members. Georg (30), Henry (28), Grant (34) and Phil (30) belong to the same age group, those guys that you didn't trust when seeing them on the streets in the last 60s; and in spite of this they became - among others - teeny-stars. Another important reason for this: According to Georg SAILOR produces "contrived music", elaborated, conceptual music without improvisation, consisting of solid components. And Georg, the most important idea-suplier, is inteligent enough to know what is effective on the audience and what isn't. I'm pretty sure that he has composed the new single "Stiletto Heels" at the same time during the production of "Girls, Girls, Girls", because the adequate successor of a hit is to become successful as well most of the time. Another indication for the thought-out behaviour of the band could be the professional backgrounds of the SAILORs: Georg once was a designer (!), Grant technician, Phil actor, Henry music teacher.

The musical competence of the band also seems to be accurately calculated. They claim to be a group of ordinary seamen, who - the concept is important - intentionally use rather moderate instrumental technics. My friend Bruno, the drummer, has confirmed the impression that drummer Grant Serpell, who used to play jazz-rock before, can do much more that the SAILOR-simplicities demand. And also casual keyboard-harmonies from Kajanus or Marsh prove: Here are some relatively good musicians at work, but with an intentional understatement. Considering the fact that Georg Kajanus once played in Eclection, from where people like Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway later went on to Fairport Convention, this theory is approved. Georg has also discovered a reason for the huge popularity of his band especially in Germany: pretty, light melodies with simple rhythms, sometimes similar to the "Radetzky-Marsch" and Tony Marshall, seem to appeal to a lot of people over here.
But there's another phenomenon: On the one hand there's the rather narrow music, on the other hand good, sometimes even brainstorm-line lyrics, that had their original inspiration from a magazine named "Red Light Quarter Review" (!) and deal with brilliant verses about pubs, sailors, homesickness and wanderlust, light girls and similar thing from this genre. SAILOR's line "You don't make love in Panama until you've brought a camera", which alludes to middle-Americam "street-chandler-girls" is simply stunning.
In addition to this, and in this case SAILOR are pop in its pure culture, is the consequent way in which the band presents itself optically. Henry plays the poker-player in the pinstripe-suit, Grant the well-off pimp, Phil walks across the stage as a pirate, and Georg (who used to wear an anchor on his cheek) the unbedarften sailor, who dreams of his bride in Blankenese while he's picking tropical fruits with Juaniti in Bahia. Even SAILOR's stage decoration makes sense: The palmtree, under which Hans Albers and Harry Belafonte used to talk, the so-called Nickelodeon (actually a high-engineered keyboard-combination) from Amsterdam's Leidseplein, the shabby facades of a Montmartre-café, together with streetlamps that seem to come from the inheritance of Lale Andersen.
SAILOR juggle and promise heaven and earth, for the fans it's truely adorable shoddy in a charming packaging, for others it's just totally boring. SAILOR are the well-arranged all-inclusive cruise at "Harnow & Schummel", including the impossible trout-fishing at the Sargasso-lake.
But where does the cruise lead? SAILOR could become an appealing comedy-rock-group, if there wasn't the sailor-image, manifested in the name of the band, which might be disturbing. The anchor on Georg's cheek has already disappeared, but on the new LP "Third Step" the quartet noticeably works with continuative topics. According to Georg they gradually and lyrically want to leave the seas of this world, although not the champagne and sexual-rhetoric; off to new shores. But there remains the legitimate question whether the deadlocked audience is going to allow the band to come to the land. Nothing is as debilitating for a creative musician as a deadlocked image.


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