Style: hard prog
When it comes to German progressive hard rock based on the Deep Purple formula, none were better than Birth Control! They were formed in 1968. The band name was a reaction against the Pope's declaration that contraceptives were sinful. They played mainly instrumental jazz rock cover versions of Brian Auger, Graham Bond, etc, in those early days. For some live engagements they were expanded with a guitarist, a vocalist and a trumpeter. Their first single "October" coupled with "Freedom" was released on Amadeo in 1969.
Line-up (B) recorded an album for Metronome, released in a round cover, imitating a box of contraceptive pills. This came in the first in a series of, what were for many people, thought-provoking covers. The music was still grounded in jazz-rock (particularly the material composed by Sobotta), but the new members brought with them rock influences (particularly evident on the material composed by Bruno Frenzel). The album also had a cover version of Doors' "Light My Fire". It was a work of average quality, lacking a bit in experience and musical craftsmanship. It also suffered from a thin production.
Their next album Operation was indeed a great improvement. The cover had a drawing of a baby eating ant monster, watched by an excited Pope. Inside the fold-out cover another drawing revealed the group members being part of a baby eating machine. An outrageous cover for sure! Musically, they had now found their own, heavy guitar and organ based sound, in many ways similar to British hands like Spooky Tooth and Deep Purple. The best cut was the opening track "Stop Little Lady". All tracks were this time composed by Frenzel. This must have been one of the best selling Ohr albums!
Ohr also released Believe In The Pill in 1972, a sampler featuring six tracks from their first two albums and three rarer tracks, previously only available on Ohr singles: "Hope" (1970 A-side OS 57.003), "What's Your Name" (1972 A-side OS 57.007) and "Believe In The Pill" (1972 B-side OS 57.007). The cover showed a foetus lying in a dustbin, again causing much controversy!
The steady sales resulted in a contract with the major company CBS. Hoodoo Man was released in January 1973 and contained 6 tracks that refined their sound even more. This was a brilliant album with very confident guitar and organ riffs and interplay. Noske's voice had improved (he was one of the best German male vocalists) and he also drummed better than ever. The key tracks this time were the classic 10 minute "Gamma Ray" (a live favourite), "Buy!" (7:10) and "Get Down To Your Fate" (7:56). The cover art wasn't as outrageous as the usual Birth Control standard: just a drawing of a very big, fat woman repressing a little wind-up man!
At this time the band had the ambition to break through internationally. They therefore felt a re-organisation of the band was necessary. Founder member Koschmidder left before a long German tour and was replaced by Peter Foller. The quintet of Noske, Frenzel, Steffens, Held and Foller recorded Rebirth (1974), failed to keep pace with the ambition. Steffens left again to form his own hard rock trio. The other four undertook another German tour that resulted in a double live album, comprising five tracks in all with much instrumental work. This was appealing for the convinced fans, but not for the masses. On the rover the group was pictured sitting in car armed with machine guns, shooting at a baby carriage. Plastic People (1975) was a concept album attempting to create a more varied sound beyond the standard heavy progressive formula. The guests Jochen von Grumbkow (cello), Christoph Noppeney (viola) and Friedemann Leinert (flute), all from Holderlin, appeared on the track "My Mind". Plastic People was their best album since Hoodoo Man. Regrettably the group were not able to develop this style in any proper way. Backdoor Possibilities (1976) was a partly failed attempt to include more jazz and classical elements into their hard rock. Birth Control were now recording for Brain, since CBS had lost faith in them.
In 1983 founder member Bruno Frenzel died after a long illness.