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Rainbirds


Country of origin:

Germany

Type of music generally:

First four albums are pop rock; their later work is more edgy, beautiful and fierce rock

Status:

Most recent release, Yonder (2014)

See also:

The Official Rainbirds Site

Katharina Franck's website

Comparisons:

Joan Baez (voice), Dani Klein (of Vaya Con Dios, voice). (jbr@casetech.dk)

This is a backwards comparison, but Splashdown really reminds me of Rainbirds. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional covers

General comments:

Katharina Franck has a very nice and distinct voice, reminiscent of Joan Baez (very different styles, though) and Dani Klein (from Vaya Con Dios) though not quite as powerful. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Katharina Franck does indeed have a stunning voice. Rainbirds' early recordings are great pop tunes, and later as the band's personnel changes their work becomes much more experimental and edgy. I like their work in both formats, though the later work is to me far more individual and powerful. (Neile)

This band started its musical life with a huge hit single "Blueprint" (off Rainbirds in 1988) which remained their only major chart success. Rainbirds, so far, have two lives. The common part is singer Katharina Franck, who also writes the lyrics. For the first two albums, the Rainbirds were a guitar-based band. The other band members were subsequently replaced by Ulrike Haage, and for the last two albums the Rainbirds' music thus became keyboard-based. Most of the lyrics are in English; In A Different Light added a French and a Portuguese song. In addition to their work as Rainbirds, Katharina and especially Ulrike have written quite a lot of music for theatre. (klaus.kluge@gmx.de)

If I could pick only one Rainbirds song from their entire catalog, of course it would have to be "Blueprint". (meth@smoe.org)

Comments about live performance:

I would paraphrase my impressions of their last show I saw in Bonn with: I went home rather elated! They did a better version of "Blueprint". In a previous concert Katharina had played an electric guitar, and she made it scream way too much. Several gigs later, she used an acoustic guitar, and it was very good. Their (new) arrangement of "Call me easy..." is *absolutely brilliant*. This became possible because Tim Lorenz (on drums) joined them. He is great! So, I'm looking forward to see them again.... (WolfDrotsch@gmx.de)

Recommended first album:

Call Me Easy Say I'm Strong Love Me My Way It Ain't Wrong for maximum vocal bliss, Two Faces if you'd like something with a bit of edge. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Hmm. I disagree. Of their more pop recordings, I'd recommend Rainbirds first, and of their later recordings In A Different Light, though actually all their albums are good. (Neile)

Recordings:


Rainbirds

Release info:

1987—Mercury/Polygram—834 023-2

Availability:

Very hard to find. Perhaps try used disc stores in Europe. Did have a U.S. release but hard to find

Ecto priority:

High for those who love great voices singing lovely pop

Group members:

Wolfgang Glum—drums, percussion
Katharina Franck—rhythm guitar, voice
Beckmann—bass, guitar, accordion

Produced by:

Udo Arndt

Comments:

This album is somewhat like Call Me Easy Say I'm Strong Love Me My Way It Ain't Wrong but the sound isn't quite as polished. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Great pop rock, guided by the wonderful voice of Katharina Franck. (Neile)


Call Me Easy Say I'm Strong Love Me My Way It Ain't Wrong

Release info:

1989—Polygram—838176-2

Availability:

Europe only

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of pop rock

Group members:

Wolfgang Glum—drums, percussion
Beckmann—bass
Rodrigo Gonzalez—guitars
Katharina Franck—vocals, rhythm guitar

Guest artists:

Lydie Auvray—accordion
Reinhold Heil—piano, organ
Peter Weihe—guitars

Produced by:

Udo Arndt, Reinhold Heil, Gareth Jones

Comments:

Wonderful light guitar/drum sound, giving Katharina Franck's vocals the best possible offset. Quite a few styles: ballads, rock, jazzy tunes and cabaret style. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Actually, this album is my least favourite of theirs—something about it is just too pop for me. It's nice, but musically and lyrically is seems less individual than their other recordings. (Neile)

I pulled out this album a couple months back, and I was amazed by how much I still love it, even after all this time. (meth@smoe.org)


Two Faces

Release info:

1991—Mercury/Phonogram—848 554-2

Availability:

Europe only

Ecto priority:

Recommended for those interested in edgy pop

Group members:

Ulrike Haage—piano, B3, wurlitzer, keyboards, programming and string arrangements
Katharina Franck—vocals, guitars, programming

Guest artists:

Allen Kamai—bass
Chris Bruce—acoustic and electric lead guitar
David Daoud Coleman—acoustic and electric cello, daf, darabukka, finger cymbals, hand drums
Jonathan Melvoin—drums
John Keane—drums, cymbals
Carla Azar—drums
Suzy Katayam—cello
Novi Novog—viola
Joel Derouin—violin
John Bigham—wah and octave-guitar
Amanda's cat—backing purrs

Produced by:

Rainbirds

Comments:

The different composition of the band here changes the direction considerably—the still sound like Rainbirds (Katharina Franck's voice is distinctive as is the general sound) but they seem to push things further and are more edgy. It's still pop, but darker and deeper. I love this. (Neile)

This album is much more experimental than Call Me Easy Say I'm Strong Love Me My Way It Ain't Wrong. Many interesting songs, both with respect to lyrics and the music. (jbr@casetech.dk)


In A Different Light

Release info:

1993—Mercury—518 075-2

Availability:

European

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for those who love edgy pop

Group members:

Ulrike Haage—piano, distorted piano, keyboards, wurlitzer, bass, samples, organ, altered piano, percussion, moog, string arrangement, vocals
Katharina Franck—guitars, percussion, vocals

Guest artists:

David Daoud Coleman—colematron, congas, flute,darbouka, daffs, oud, electric cello, percussion
Raoul Walton—bass, vector double bass
Sugar J.—Greedy beats 'n' samples
Curt Cress—drums
Jaki Liebzeit—drums
Tellsque C.—drums
Alexander Hacke—guitars, bowed guitars
F.M. Einheit—stones, drums, drill, metal, cymbals
Lindsay Cooper—bassoon
Moritz Volpert—brushed snare
Konny Matthieu—bass
R. Becker, Th. Ritter, M. Wagner, P Groschopp, M. Hejlik, Th. Krigar, M. Köchner, A. Weller, M. Krayer, V. Weiche, W. Hofmann, U. Stetter—12 cellos

Produced by:

Jon Caffery & Rainbirds

Comments:

This is my favourite of their albums—it's inventive and complex sonically, yet still focused by the strength of Katharina Franck's voice and melodies. Lovely! (Neile)

Making Memory

Release info:

1996—Our Choice (a division of Rough Trade Records)—RTD 195.3109.2 43

Availability:

Europe

Ecto priority:

Recommended for those who love edgy pop.

Group members:

Tim Lorenz—drums
Ulrike Haage—keys and program
Katharina Franck—vocals and guitars

Guest artists:

Sebastian Hess—cello
Frank Kellogok—vocals

Produced by:

Rainbirds

Comments:

I never really followed the Rainbirds—I've got their first self-titled album and like it very much, but I wasn't impressed by what I heard from their later efforts and so I lost track of them. But I decided to give their new cd a listen while I had the opportunity, and decided I had to get a copy for myself! It has soon grown to become one of my favourite new cds of this year.
     This is more like their first album than what I've heard from the others, though Making Memory is more keyboard based while on the first album the guitar played the main part. Rainbirds are a trio now, with still Katharina Franck's fantastic vocals as the main feature. The addition of a cello in some songs works really wonderfully! Most songs have a strong beat, but there are some beautiful ballads on the album as well as some more experimental tracks—these really had to grow on me, but "Education of the soul" has become one of my favourite tracks.
     "Absolutely free" was a good choice for the first single ("Lonely as a cloud / I am dangling my feet / and the view from up here is / absolutely breathtaking"), a catchy upbeat song. The weaker songs for me are right after the middle ("Oblivionseekers/Here to go" and "High"), they're loud and rawer than the other tracks. The most beautiful track is "Nothing cancels love", which still gives me goosebumps all over, and the cd ends with a cover version of "Memories". (Marion)

This album doesn't seem all that much of a departure from the previous ones—their pop is still beautiful and edgy, mostly due to Katharina Franck's powerful delivery. Great music! (Neile)

Making Memory is exceedingly cool. What an amazing record—at the time I first got it I said it was their best since their second album (Call Me Easy Say I'm Strong Love Me My Way It Ain't Wrong), and I believe that even more strongly now. (meth@smoe.org)

This album is a jewel. The rainbirds were one of my first exposure to ecto music with their magnificent second album Call Me Easy... so this band holds a special place in my heart. With this one Katharina Franck shows again that she can write songs which sound obvious at the first listen but have multiple layers of interpretation both from a musical and lyrical point of view. An exciting record that is hard to remove from the player. (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)


Forever

Release info

1997—Our Choice/Rough Trade Records (Germany)—195.3359.2

Availability:

Available in Europe

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Tim Lorenz—drums, percussion and vocals
Ulrike Haage—keyboards, piano and soundscapes
Katharina Franck—vocals and guitars

Guest artists:

Sebastian Hess—cello
Mr. Morph—vinyl

Produced by:

Jon Caffrey and Rainbirds

Comments:

I'm listening to the new Rainbirds album now. I'm liking it quite a bit. There's an interesting mix of styles, from trip-hop to acoustic to a mishmosh of the two (and an interesting cover of the Paul Williams song "Tomorrow", which was in the movie Bugsy Malone), and Katharina Franck's voice is in fine form, as always. (meth@smoe.org)

It's an intriguing collection of songs. Highly recommended! (Klaus.Kluge@gmx.de)

I don't like this album as much as Making Memory, the previous album. It's a mixture of styles, with trip hop, strings and acoustic tracks, fairly electronic and percussive, but there are also beautiful songs like 'Tomorrow'. And Katharina Franck's wonderful voice, of course. (Marion)


the mercury years: the best of 87-94

Release info:

1998—Mercury (Germany)—522 743-2

Availability:

Wide in Germany

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you want a sampler of the first four discs.

Comments:

This is a German disc that came out in 1994, containing tracks from the first four Rainbirds discs. The only track not available on one of those albums is a cover of the Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil". (neal)

rainbirds3000.live

Release info:

1998—Rough Trade (Germany)—RTD 195.3533.2

Availability:

Germany

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Rainbirds fans

Group members:

Tim Lorenz—drums, ufip cymbals
Ulrike Haage—Wurlitzer, piano, synths, samples
Katharina Franck—guitars, vocals

Comments:

rainbirds3000.live contains 13 songs, runs 76 minutes and was been recorded during their last year's German tour. I saw them last year and was delighted, not being a big Rainbirds fan before. They were only three: Katharina Franck, Ulrike Haage and the drummer, so the arrangements were totally different from the original versions, more sparse and even more experimental so that I was immediately carried away by their music and of course I had to buy this fantastic live album. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

This is pretty much as great as I'd expect, given how I love their studio albums. I would say it's a good complement to their studio releases and shows the band's live energy in their current incarnation. I recommend this highly to any Rainbirds fan. (Neile)


Thanks to Jens P. Tagore Brage for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2015-06-14 19:28:16.
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