Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 246 - 09/16/16

Oriental Sunshine
Dedicated To The Bird We Love
Round 2

There are probably more music lovers outside Norway who are familiar with the name Oriental Sunshine than there are from their native Norway. Original vinyl pressings of their 1970 album Dedicated To The Bird We Love are sought-after collector's items, and the album is also highly praised for its musical content. When Rune Walle (sitar, guitar, later to be found in Flying Norwegians, Hole in the Wall and Ozark Mountain Daredevils) and Nina Johansen (vocals, and most of the song-writing) teamed up with Indian Satnam Singh, the resulting album was pretty much ignored in its time, and didn't sell very well. Today the album is praised as wonderful example of what could come to existence back in the day when the melding of Western world folk and pop with Eastern music still felt fresh and uncharted. Certainly this was the case in Norway anyway, where the duo/trio invented their own blueprint for a musical vision, ending up with something rather unique, though of course influenced by innovators like The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and other artists Johansen and Walle took a common interest in. All very impressing considering their young age, Walle being 18, Johansen 19 when the album was released. Inspired by The Beatles and Ravi Shankar Walle had picked up the sitar a few years earlier, teaching himself how to play it.

Helped by excellent studio contributions from jazz musicians Sture Jansen (bass) and Espen Rud (drums) along with the more rock-oriented Helge Grøslie (organ, Junipher Greene) the recordings capture the musicians in perfect interplay, nobody adding more than what is necessary to create a mellow and peaceful setting for a selection of simple but exquisite songs. Dated or timeless becomes rather uninteresting tags when listening to the flow of beauty throughout this album. It's hard to select favourite tracks, but the song-writing elegancy of "My Way to Be Hurt" and the short but incredibly beautiful "Land of Wisdom" are easy picks. That last one was written by Hans Jørgen Høinæs (Moon Spinners), who also wrote "Mother Nature", the song that Oriental Sunshine won a 1969 song contest with, and was released as a single later the same year. I guess others would pick differently from this album that has no fillers. Flashback Magazine editor Richard Morton Jack sums it up well in his 8-page long article on Oriental Sunshine from last year: "All eleven songs are short and perfectly formed, expressing a powerful emotional and spiritual yearning beneath their superficial sweetness."

Sunbeam Records (run by the same Morton Jack and Steven Carr) reissued Dedicated To The Bird We Love in 2006, on both CD and vinyl formats, but now the fine Norwegian Round 2 label seems to have produced the definitive vinyl version, incorporating Morton Jack's Flashback article as liner notes and including a poster with lots of pictures. The original master tapes has been newly digitized at The National Library of Norway for this release, and the album has then been re-mastered from hi-res files. It is unclear what sources was used for the Sunbeam reissue (either from previously made hi-res files or a transfer from the original vinyl release). Anyway, this reissue also sounds very good, but you can't beat Round 2's excellent packaging and additional content. Round 2 is "dedicated to rediscovering, restoring and reissuing the Norwegian classic albums on vinyl, both the obscure and the well known". Give them a visit.

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