If you’re a Henrik Freischlader fan then you will be playing this with great trepidation. 2009’s ‘Recorded by Martin Meinschäfer’ is unarguably one of, if not THE, best disc the Wuppertal Wunderkind ever put together. Does the new release measure up? Well truth is, it’s not as good – it’s better!
All of the hallmarks that made the 2009 CD so good are still here on Henrik’s 2022 visit to Meinschäfers Megaphon Studios in Arnsberg. The warm, 70’s sound is still here (Are they really using old microphones and valve amps, or is Meinschäfer using technical wizardry on a level that would impress Dumbledore himself?). The balance between technically perfect mechanical sound and human emotion is still intact. Perfectly constructed guitar solos? check. great musical backing? check. Everything is as good as it was thirteen years ago except the lyrics – they are even better.
I remember an interview many years ago with 10cc, where Graham Gouldman declared that “The concept of a concept album is not a good concept”. Okay, so Mr Freischlader has not himself called this release a concept album. But if this disc that Henrik has delivered almost singlehandedly (he plays every instrument here except the Hammond organ) was a concept album, the concept would be – We live in a crazy, messed up world that has got out of control. Mankind needs to stop being selfish and instead become selfless. Don’t panic though good people, there is a saviour – and no, it’s not Superman who will come to our rescue, but God. You just need to “Give yourself into the hands of Jesus” as he says on the closing track. But there’s a heck of a lot of great music before that, so let’s dig in…
A quick thumbs up for the cover design. I love that de-satch look created by Timo Wilke’s photography. As always with Cable Car the booklet is top quality too, with all lyrics of a readable size (take note Billie Eilish – whose ‘Happier than ever’ requires a magnifying glass to read its tiny font)
You can’t put things right without knowing what’s wrong, and the opening tracks make it clear that a lot needs fixing: “We don’t repair, cos we can replace” (Free) in a World run by “Men in suits” who “don’t even believe in God” (Turn back the clock). It’s a world that wore Freischlader down, especially during the Covid years, and he makes it plain “I just wanna do what I’m doing. Ever since I was seventeen”. That word ‘Wanna’ and the word ‘want’ crop up a lot in the texts too: “I wanna see a change” (Rule the World), “I wanna go where the sun is shining day and night” (I wanna go). By track eight the discontent with the present is clear and ‘Old Life Back’ is exactly what Henrik wants – “A World without internet“, “When smoking was allowed” “I want – things how they used to be” and to prove it there’s a super little 70’s style wah-wah solo that could be sampled off of ‘Frampton comes alive’ it’s so early 70’s.
As you can tell by now, Henrik’s lyrics on this disc are a delight. That’s not to say that the music is just background though. There’s a great chunky reggae groove on ‘Wasting our time’. A lovely stop/start twist on ‘Turn back the clock’. There’s a big rock ballad sound on ‘The Question‘ together with soloing that Gary Moore himself would be proud to call his own. And finally, there is the closing track ‘Hands of Jesus’ – a weighty 13 minutes of melodic blues rock heaven. The best moment on the best CD Henrik Freischlader has made to date – which makes it the best track he’s put down in a studio to date? The only criticism I have of Henrik Freischlader – Recorded by Martin Meinschafer II is that, despite having a playing time of almost 74 minutes, it’s too short. Some things are too good to want them to end. This disc belongs in every thinking modern blues-rock fans collection