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Terry Bozzio

Prime Cuts

Review by Gary Hill

This disc by drum great Terry Bozzio is by definition a compilation album. Still it does include two previously unreleased numbers, one of which was recorded specifically for this CD. The bulk of the material are songs recorded by Bozzio on various releases on the Magna Carta label, so in that aspect this is truly a "various artists" release. One can surely get a feel listening to this one for the diversity in Bozzio's various musical projects (and it doesn't even touch his work with Missing Persons). Throughout all of these pieces there is an ever-present sense of musical quality, and, of course, an incredible percussive talent. This disc is certainly a quality listening experience taken by itself. For fans of Bozzio who have not followed all of his work it would absolutely serve as a great introduction to many of these. Since I have previously reviewed a lot of this material when originally released, the track by track analysis on those are adapted (and in most cases taken directly) from the original reviews.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sick Jazz Surgery
This nearly 11 minute cut is one of two new songs on the disc. It starts with a nearly unaccompanied drum solo. This wanders into deeply weird and ambient tones with distorted spoken words enter the fray. This is more atmospheric than anything else, later marching into fairly extreme weirdness. The composition is certainly a percussion powerhouse, though.
Dangerous
This track is from Bozzio Levin Stevens' second album, and in fact is the title track to that one. It comes in as a smoking fast crunchy prog rocker. It shifts gear for a time to a mellower prog excursion before ramping back up to some of the more powerful material of the song in the form of a lusher arrangement of the earlier riff. The band even intersperse King Crimson musical quotes into the mix, and at times this sounds a lot like Red era Crimson. They drop it back for a slower laid-back jam based on previous themes, then move it into new territory.
Dreaming In Titanium
This one comes from the Jordan Rudess Feeding the Wheel album. Funky, high energy jamming makes up the crux of this piece. It turns Zappaish in its quirky meandering. Then it becomes very classical before changing to a playful jazz styling. It gets pretty strange in the outro.
Last Call
Explorer's Club is the band with which Bozzio recorded this one, the song appearing on their debut disc. In that case, this one returned the listener to Dream Theater inspired elements that had shown up throughout that album. There it was certainly a piece designed to pull the various themes of the album together, highlighting the fact that the CD was a prog rock magnum opus. This is very Yesish, but with a harder edge, and encompasses the major movements of that album, reprising and tieing up the loose ends. The ending segments feature an intensity which just seems to climb higher and higher, until, as the liner notes say "Bozzio goes wild" to the end of the album.
Walking Dream
Taken from a session done by Bozzio Levin Stevens, this cut is Tony Levin and Bozzio only. It is a short, mellow and atmospheric number that is rather dark. Until this CD the piece had been unreleased.
A Glimpse Into A Deeply Disturbed Mind
A spoken processed loop starts this, and Bozzio jumps quickly into a great beat. Dark textures emerge overtop. The voice returns later as this emerges into a fairly frantic jam. It gets quite weird at times. Considering the title, this seems quite appropriate. This one originally appeared on the compilation Drum Nation Volume One, and was a new composition for that album.
Edge of a Circle
This number comes from the album Bozzio recorded with Billy Sheehan under the slightly less than imaginative moniker Bozzio Sheehan. Despite the lack of imagination put into the name that disc, Nine Short Films, is an extremely unique and creative offering. Dark textures start this tune, but the cut switches to a fast paced, crunchy progression that is one of the easier portions on the disc on which to latch. This is a strong rocker. A screaming guitar solo, is provided by Sheehan and Rushish textures emerge mid song.
Melt
Here Mark Gage, working under the name Vapourspace, reworks a Bozzio Levin Stevens cut. It starts slowly with percussion, then a warped weirded out sound takes the piece. As it moves on, this is playful and fun, but rather strange. It was originally released on an album of Vapourspace remixes of various Magna Carta releases.
 
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