I had my hands on a copy of Bless last November at Lucky Records when we were visiting Reykjavik, but somehow I convinced myself that I already had it. Needless to say when I got home and realized my mistake, I was pissed. Pissed enough to make it a point of immediately finding a copy online and buying it. That’ll show me (there’s nothing like getting back at yourself!).
The infamous Dr. Gunni was the driving force behind S.H. Draumur, releasing material under that moniker during much of the 1980s, with 1988s Bless ending their run of new material (compilations followed in 1993 and 2010). There are two different vinyl versions of Bless listed on Discogs, both released in Iceland in 1988 – a three song version, and a four song version (“Dýr Á Braut” is the additional tune). Images of the front covers of the two versions show the three song copy with an “E 21” at the bottom right of the front cover, which is missing from the longer version. It is also indicated that only the Erðanúmúsik label is associated with the three tracker, while the four tracker lists both that label and another Icelandic label, Gramm. I wanted to get to the bottom of this so I went right to the source – Dr. Gunni himself. According to the good doctor, the record only exists in a four song version. Unfortunately there aren’t any photos of the jacket reverse or center labels of the alleged three song version to offer any additional clarity. So, much like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and gin that actually tastes good, this three song version will remain a sort of myth, something said to exist but probably not real.
Musically Bless fits in with Gunni’s overall style – raw rock with doses of psych and even a little rockabilly. Gunni’s vocals are higher pitched than you’d expect, sometimes even going into a falsetto, other times a shrill wail. The music has an energy to it, played with both abandon and urgency, much like the other S.H. Draumur material I’ve heard over the years. I’m glad I was able to find it online and didn’t have to wait another 10 months to get back to Iceland to buy a copy.