Third chapter in Beck’s adventure in Jazz-rock land, this live album is probably his best (at least IMHO) and certainly an improvement of the preceding ultra-technical Wired and the too fusion-esque Blow By Blow. Indeed, this third try is probably the best suited to those searching for a conventional (but not boring) jazz-rock between Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, while remaining accessible and out of the clichés.With the opening Freeway Jam, with its car honking intro, is a complete stunner and much better than the BBB version (IMHO). The following Earth (Still Our Only Home) is a very funky jazz track sung (Eeehmmm!!) by Jan Hammer, but Beck’s guitar shines brighter than a thousand suns. She’s A Woman is turned to a semi-reggae, semi-funk thing with some guitar vo-coders ala Peter Frampton. Full Moon Boogie again dips into the guitar vo-coder and dipping into early 70’s funk,

The definitely more even and consistent flipside includes the spacey doubleshot Darkness/Earth (In Search Of A Sun), which has a very different feel with Hammer’s spacey synth dominating most of the track: we are hovering between Nektar/Eloy, Tangerine Dream and Dixie Dregs territory at times. A real pleasure of a mixture and a mixture of real pleasures. The great Mahavishnu- inspired Scatterbrain (also from BBB), where Steve Kindler’s violin and Beck’s guitar are indeed reminiscent of Goodman and McLaughlin and is easily the album’s highlight, along with Freeway Jam. Closing the album is the excellent Blue Wind (from Wired), here played with a full line-up and includes a jam of the Yardbirds’ Train Kept A Rollin.

With the flipside nearing perfection, one can only regret that the opening side gets lost in a few funky directions (wtf about the reggae stuff), and had the choice of tracks been better advised, this album could’ve been a real class act.

Sean Trane, ProgArchives Collaborator

Featured Album

Raymond Gomez – Volume

When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with “Albert King-like” timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray “rocks”. He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, “Well, there’s killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin’ groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front — that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It’s still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released. Charles Wilson
Recommended!

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