Presence Rec.Tasavallan Presidentti : Six (FIN,2006)*' Presence Rec.Tasavallan Presidentti : Six Live! DVD (FIN,2006)***
Scandinavia had been a meltpot for its own forms of progressive rock, with long tracks, bits of jazzrock and blues incorporated which created an inspiration source of their own, a scene which was especially active in Sweden. Tasavallan Presidentti could easily fit within that scene. There were little Finnish groups like this. Just recently they returned with a reformation and a new album, called “Six Complete”. The album at first disappointed me somewhat, because they reveal that their core of new inspirations do not in fact fit well into the progressive rock genre anymore. It has more clear bluesrock in it, sounds like having certain straight forward cover styles in mind, making the result sound for a large part like "good old live rockers". Already then, I thought this music would feel best as a live act. So, no wonder there now is published a DVD compilation of two live acts (good for the first two 85 minutes), professionally recorded.
I like the group well when they redo old songs, or “progressive” covers that refers to some of their heroes and influences, of groups that balance between jazz and rock, like with the Zappa interpretation “King Kong”, but also other references aren’t too far way. I like very much the track “Dance”, a rather improvised piece led by flute mostly (and with some guitar communicative touches and solos), with a rather classical theme in it (not really for the flute, but for the kind of composition, this brings Jethro Tull to mind). The group hangs well together, but often the core remains often (but not always, in the concert performances), straight forward bluesrock, which disappoints me a bit, especially because Frank Robson’s voice and singing does not convince me much (he also reads from paper, as if not too focused) ; his performance still sounds almost a bit lazy (but I found his lyrical inspirations, explained in the interview, amusing, in a positive way). Also the bass player gives me a bit the same impression, very much in the background. Who really gives himself completely, (with vision and maturity), and, it becomes even more clear how much after the included interview, is Juhani Aaltonen (sax, flute, clarinet), who’s contributions and (-,not necessarily jazzy,-) improvisations, bring most “character” to the pieces. Also Jukka Tolonen’s appearances (on guitar and vocals) show maturity. Vesa Aaltonen on drums always fits well, filling out rhythmically the tensions well.
A great and welcome addition is a recent, 35 minute interview taken for the BBC. This interview shows also segments of live performances from 1973, more fragments of a convincing live concert from 1983, and, a surprise, a great studio recording in the BBC studios. From another live bonus track from 2001, I understand how the manager said in that time that "not too obvious music was born again" now.