Picked up this CD out of the clearance rack for $3.99 the other day. I was completely unfamiliar with this fusion album until I came across the title earlier this year as I was researching my Whitburnesque list of Billboard Magazine's Top Jazz LPs of 1976-1985. So I'm writing this post as I listen for the first time. The lack of decent liner notes with this disc isn't getting me started on the right foot, but three of the seven tracks are from Blow By Blow so I'm hopeful.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #23
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #11
- Freeway Jam: and we're off to a good start. This jam piece has a decent head melody and there's plenty of room to stretch out on solos. Beck has always been more of a technician than melodist, but he goes with his strength and I'm duly impressed.
- Earth (Still Our Only Home): Jan Hammer "sings"? The first of 4 Hammer originals, this one has a nice, heavy groove but it's hard to get past those grating vocals.
- She's A Woman: A Beatles cover so you know the material's good. The arrangement doesn't differ from the one on the Blow By Blow album and that's fine with me.
- Full Moon Boogie: Not coincidentally, the intro for this one sounds more than a little like the intro to Hammer's Miami Vice before switching gears to another heavy groove. Drummer Tony Smith sings on this one and he's got a typical '70s rock voice but the vocals are completely unnecessary - this would have worked well as an instrumental.
- Darkness/Earth In Search Of A Sun: An attempt at some sort of highbrow conceptual piece but it doesn't succeed at much other than noodling. Pass. (Was gonna suggest that "Earth in Search of a Sun" use the alternate title of "Song in Search of a Melody" but thought that was too easy.) Weakest track on the disc. Even the crowd has trouble mustering up any enthusiasm for it.
- Scatterbrain: I like the original version on Blow By Blow, but this live version doesn't even come close. However, I like the addition of the electric violin to the odd meter section and the Beck solo is very good.
- Blue Wind: A valiant try at ending the album with a high-energy piece with lots of firework. There's lots of notes and while that's impressive, the bland writing doesn't give the flashy solos much of a foundation.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None
Previously revisited for the blog:
Blow By Blow (1975)