Real Ax Band

Real Ax Band was a German jazz-funk/soul sextet that released the album Nicht Stehen Bleiben on April Records in 1977. Keyboardist Dieter Miekautsch hailed from the bands Missing Link, Missus Beastly, and Embryo.

Members: Maria Archer (vocals), Dieter Miekautsch (piano, organ, vocals), Heinz-Otto Gwiasda (guitar, vocals, flute), Christopher Mache (bass, vocals), Marlon Klein (drums, congas), Jens Fischer (guitar, vocals)


The Real Ax Band came together in late 1976 when two recent members of Embryo, keyboardist Dieter Miekautsch and singer Maria Archer, teamed with guitarist Heinz-Otto Gwiasda, bassist Christopher Mache, and drummer Marlon Klein. During their formative stage, they also featured keyboardist Thomas Müller-Berlin, who later wrote a feature on the band for the German music monthly Musikexpress.

Miekautsch was a member of Missing Link for their 1972 singular album Nevergreen! He first played with Embryo on their 1973 release We Keep On. In 1974, he surfaced in the reformed Missus Beastly for their second self-titled album. He then returned to Embryo for the first April/Schneeball festival, documented on the 1975 MOL release Open-Air Concert (Vlotho Winterberg) with the track “Sidetrack.” Klein also appeared at the event as the drummer of the Jack Bone Group, whose track “Himalaya” is on the album. 

Archer came from Ghana by way of England. She first appeared on two 1975 German releases: a jazz-funk eponymous release by Veit Marvos and His Red Point Orchestra (on Bellaphon) and Jazz Im Blue Note by the Red Roseland Korn Pickers. In 1976, she sang on two releases on the newly formed jazz-rock label April: For Missus Beastly by Dr. Aftershave and the Mixed Pickles (Missus Beastly disguised for contractual reasons) and Bad Heads and Bad Cats, the eighth album by Embryo, which also features Miekautsch.

1977: Live Dates and Album

Real Ax Band plowed the German jazz club and festival circuit throughout 1977. They performed that year at the third annual April/Schneeball festival, since named Umsonst Und Draussen. A piece from their set, “Move Your Ass In Time,” appears on Vlotho 77 (MOL 0003) along with numbers by Munju, Moira, Skyline, ES, Sadja, Embryo, Missus Beastly, and Release Music Orchestra. Another Real Ax cut, “Madwurszth Gwiasda,” appears with cuts by some of the same artists (plus Checkpoint Charlie) on April Ist Schneeball, released that December.

During June 24-30, 1977, Real Ax Band recorded their album at Sunrise Studios in Kirchberg, Switzerland, in the home of engineer Etienne Conod. It was one of the first albums recorded at his state-of-the-art facility, later used by Munju, Kleenex, Floyd Hunchback Group, Henry Cow, Nautilus, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Fred Frith, and Yello.

Real Axe Band’s album appeared on the April label in December 1977 under the split title Nicht Stehenbleiben / Move Your Ass In Time, which respectively refer to sides 1 and 2 of the original LP. The self-produced effort contains 10 tracks: four co-written by Miekautsch and Archer, including “Pick Your Feet Off the Ground” and “I’m Checkin’ My Problems Out.” Gwiasda contributed “Frauen & Kinder Zuerst” and the aforementioned “Madwurszth.” The side 1 centerpiece “Mark Spitz” is a Mache/Klein co-write.

Original copies of the album are housed in a gatefold sleeve with live closeup pics of each member on the innerfold. The front cover shows two mountainous landscapes turned sideways, separated by a pair of dancing silhouettes against a sky blue backdrop with prominent displays of the moon, Saturn, and Jupiter. The back features a blue pointillist drawing, credited to artist Micha Ehlers (who would also illustrate the fifth and final Umsonst & Draussen document, Porta Westvlothica 78). April’s blue/green gradient scheme, as seen on the LP labels, carries over to the text and photos on the inner-sleeve.

Later Activity

During 1978, Real Axe Band worked up a new setlist, including lengthy pieces by Archer (“You Really Shouldn’t Act Like That”), Miekautsch (“Everyone I Know”), and Gwiasda (“Waiting,” “Sammelsurium (Et Brimborium) In Aquarium Est”). However, their only further appearance on record from the time is Gwiasda’s “Never Never Again,” captured live on Porta Westvlothica 78 along with numbers by Out of Focus and Aera. For that event, Real Axe was joined by guitarist/singer Jens Fischer, who would soon surface in Tri Atma and Cyklus.

The balance of Real Axe’s set from this period was recorded at Quartier Latin, Berlin, on April 19–20, 1978. Four decades later, this set appeared on the CD Just Vibrations – Live at the Quartier Latin Berlin, released by German archivists Sireena Records with a booklet reprint of Müller-Berlin’s Musikexpress article.

Of the ex-members, Klein was most prolific, playing in the ’80s NDW band 1. Futurologischer Congress and the world beat ensembles Dissidenten and Pili Pili.

In 2001, Nicht Stehenbleiben / Move Your Ass In Time was reissued on CD by archivists FünfUndVierzig (Germany) and Captain Trip Records (Japan).



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