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J.B.O. – Planet Pink

Planet Pink
by Mark Machlay at 10 May 2022, 5:34 AM

The J.B.O. band – or James Blast Orchestra – have been creating their signature “fun metal” music for over 30 years and just last April 15 released their fourteenth studio album “Planet Pink”. The group was formed back in 1989 between the two frontmen Hannes "G. Laber" Holzmann and Veit Kutzer alias Vito C. as a purely fun project with songs being recorded even before their first official appearance. After getting attention via local radio play, the search was on to fill out the roster with Holmer “a Bier” Graap on drums and Thomas “Schmitti” Schmitt. Only having one lineup change when Graap and Schmitt left and were replaced with Ralph Bach and Wolfram Kellner in 2001, the band has been going strong with their signature brand of good-natured fun heavy metal ever since. Since 1995’s Explicit Lyric” they have been consistently releasing material every one to three years with plenty of Gold albums and top ten positions along the way.

“Planet Pink”, however, formed a bit differently than their previous albums had. Usually, the band bosses Vito C. and Holzmann sit together on a couch and present themselves their ideas. This time they jammed through the telephone. Thankfully, it worked out as the two have had such a great working relationship over the years, mentioning that they, “know each other better than identical twins”. Their music has always borrowed heavily from all of music history’s canon and especially rock and heavy metal. Their first single released “Metal was my First Love” borrows heavily from the song “Music” from 1976 by the famous British rock musician John Miles, transforming the work into a guitar army onslaught thanks to Vito C.’s vast collection of old guitar amps. To further add to their eccentricity and originality, they even released a special version of the song available for download in which the audience can manipulate, mute, and transform the songs themselves, giving the fans the ability to create their own versions. But the band is also about tradition, keeping the partnership with producer Christoph Beyerlein at Sound and Groove studio who has been a part of the J.B.O. family since 1994, often referred to as the fifth member.

Frankly, while much of the material on “Planet Pink” was enjoyable – mostly due to nostalgia and familiarity of the music they are parodying – I felt a bit left out of most of the jokes and spoken word banter that appears in abundance on this album. J.B.O. seems to have quite the history but I had never once heard of them and I feel that their adherence to German culture has kept them from gaining an international audience despite the fact that the music is well-produced and is undeniably fun to listen to. The name of the album comes from the first track of the album “Planet Pink” which reimagines Italian europop group EIFFEL 65’s 1999 mega-hit “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” which was a hilarious surprise that was infectious. Even the tongue-cheek style of tracks like “Metal Was My First Love” and “Mi-Ma-Metal” were funny the first time, but after subsequent listens, it sounded amateurish. I am no stranger to liking bands with predominantly German lyrics, RAMMSTEIN is still one of my favorite metal bands, but when much of the charm of a band comes from the conversations happening in songs like “Einhorn” and “Klassiker!” that rely on not only understanding German but getting the in-jokes as well, I lost my taste for this album rather quickly. The album is propped up by bangers like “Immer Noch Am Leben” and the title track and peters out on the second half, unfortunately.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 2
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Planet Pink
2. Rockmusik Hat Mich Versaut
3. Metal Was My First Love
4. Immer Noch Am Leben
5. Einhorn
6. Expeditionen Ins Geistreich
7. Klassiker!
8. Nicht Doof |
9. Mi-Ma-Metal
10. Glaub Mir Lieber Nicht
11. Wir Kommen Alle In Die Hölle
12. Volks-Prog
Vito C. – Vocals & Guitar
Hannes "G.Laber" Holzmann – Vocals & Guitar
Ralph Bach - Bass
Wolfram Kellner - Drums
Record Label: AFM Records


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