Remember the band, but forget the album

Nekad nesaki nekad

One practically needs a scorecard to track everyone who has gone through the ranks of the Latvian rock group Līvi. The Liepāja-based group has been through so many lineup changes that one becomes dizzy trying to remember them all. Former members often go on to their own successes. Singer Igo Fomins launched a successful solo career after spending time in the group. Guitarist Tomass Kleins, after spending many years in the group, joined up with Igo’s brother Ivo to form the successful but short-lived duo Fomins un Kleins.

A former Līvi member who seemed to vanish completely off the radar after leaving the group is Aivars Brīze. His last album with the band was 1997’s Bailes par ziņģēm, after which he departed the group seemingly never to be heard from again. However, he has resurfaced, partnered with Kleins and other well-known musicians, to form the “new” band Leģions. The band released its debut compact disc, Nekad nesaki nekad, in the fall of 2008.

One of the reasons the duo Fomins un Kleins broke up was supposedly because Kleins wanted to pursue pop music. Kleins formed the band Cacao with popular young singer Andris Ērglis and recorded the big pop hit “Ripoja akmens.” However, after a very public breakup, Cacao was disbanded and Kleins returned to his hard rock roots.

Joining Brīze and Kleins (who is also the principal music writer) is another Līvi member, drummer Vilnis Krieviņš, as well as bassist Eduards Glotovs and keyboard player Juris Kristons. Throw in lyrics by respected rock lyricist Guntars Račs and you would figure you would have the recipe for a seminal Latvian rock album.

Unfortunately, the record is underwhelming and not quite as good as you would expect considering who was involved in making it. But first, though, I must point out that Brīze sounds great. He returns to the microphone for, I believe, the first time in a decade, and has not missed a beat. His unique chainsaw-through-iron voice that sang Līvi classics like “Dzelzsgriezējs” is as strong as ever. Kleins’ guitar work is also as good as ever. However, for whatever reason, the record remains uninspiring, with many songs barely climbing past the generic rock anthem level.

The album begins promisingly, with riffing that would make Angus Young of AC/DC proud in “Tev vajag daudz.” However, much like recent AC/DC releases (like 2008’s Black Ice, sadly generic and uninspired), the riff is the best part of the song, and the song does not grab you as much as an opener should.

Next up is a song about a dog, appropriately titled “Suns,” and a number of tracks that are rather cliché rock music, not to mention with quasi-philosophical lyrics, such as “Laiks ir laiks” (“Time is Time”) or “Notici sev” (“Believe in Yourself”). The standout track is the final song: the ballad “Kad brālis modīsies” (“When Brother Awakes”). The palpable emotion in Brīze’s voice is heartfelt.

The album also sounds a bit too polished. For a rock group that is meant to be a rough and tumble bunch, Leģions seems to be holding back. I would certainly like to hear Kleins go all out in at least one song. Perhaps he is shaking off the last remnants of his excursion into all-out pop music with Ērglis. Or perhaps the guys need some additional time to get into a groove. Hopefully a second album (if there is one—these groups are notorious for being short lived and unstable) will show the members’ full capabilities, as Nekad nesaki nekad seems to be almost reserved and tentative in certain ways. With the talent brought to the table, these guys should have knocked this one out of the park, but apart from a few brief glimpses of brilliance (and the very welcome return of Brīze), this album is, unfortunately, all too forgettable.


Leģions includes five veteran rock musicians, among them ex-Līvi singer Aivars Brīze and guitarist Tomass Kleins.


Nekad nesaki nekad


MICREC,  2008

MRCD 391

Track listing:

Tev vajag daudz


Liekot roku uz sirds

Šeit un tūlīt

Laiks ir laiks

Sēdies un brauc

Es gribu dzīvot


Notici sev

Kad brālis modīsies

Where to buy

Purchase Nekad nesaki nekad from BalticShop.

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Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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