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The Lonely Bears

The Best of the Lonely Bears

Review by Gary Hill

The personnel on this album are Tony Hymas (Jeff Beck, Jack Bruce, Ian Anderson), Terry Bozzio (Bozzio, Levin, Stevens; Frank Zappa; UK), Hugh Burns (Gerry Rafferty, Steelers Wheel), and Tony Coe (Spencer Davis, Henry Mancini, Caravan). This compilation includes tracks from the three previous Lonely Bears albums (which are only available in Europe) and several new compositions. The songs on this album are quite good, and seem to call to mind at times, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, wonderfully traditional jazz, and world music. This is a very nice album to just kick back with, relax and absorb.

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

Track by Track Review
Kill King Rat
This track is a fairly frantic song, somewhat calling to mind some of Frank Zappa`s jazzier works, and features some rather Dimeolaish guitar work at times. Kill King Rat serves as a very nice opening number, and definitely grabs the listener`s attention. It covers a lot of musical territory as it winds through many changes. At times, the saxophone work here seems rather in the vein of some of Nik Turner`s work in Hawkwind.
Ma Grande Ourse
Beginning with some rather spooky keyboard work, this song is a very short number, combining interesting drum work with sounds which seem very nature based, calling to mind thunder and animal cries.
From the Nacfa Mountains
The saxophone on this track gives forth a rather nice sort of African based texture. In fact the entire song seems to be a jazz rendering of a joyous African tribal tradition. This is very delightful and uplifting number.
Oka
This piece begins in an intensely moody, atmospheric sort of jazz mode. Percussion and saxophone dominate the early sections of the song, with the other instrumentation remaining strictly textural. Eventually, an unaccompanied drum solo brings us to more of the tribal sort of influences that were begun in the previous song. These tribal textures then somewhat alternate with some more traditional jazz approaches, nearly unaccompanied drumming, and the atmospheric stylings of the intro. This track is definitely a drum work showcase for Bozzio.
March Past 29 145 749 B
A nice percussive groove starts this track off. The song quickly takes on some extremely likable textures, both quite jazzy and somewhat reminiscent of King Crimson. This is my favorite cut on this disc. I defy you to listen to this track without tapping your feet.
Si tu vois ma Mere
Some very nice, laid-back saxophone work gets this composition going. This number has a very traditional jazz feeling to it, and really makes you feel like you have walked into a vintage jazz club. This is a very pleasant song.
Sartre
One could easily imagine King Crimson doing this song, particularly in the era when they used a large assortment of reed instruments.
Our Red Sea
The main riff to this song is a very nice jazz oriented melody played on the saxophone. This riff serves as the beginning and central themes to this track, while the other instruments seem to wander around it. Eventually this riff gives way to some rather tasty and avant-garde guitar work. Next the piano seems to take the focus of the song, all the while the melody line continues to progress. By the latter portions of the song, it seems as though all the instruments are trying to share the spotlight. Finally, the opening saxophone strain takes control of the song again, accompanied quite competently by the entire band. This is a very well written, arranged and executed piece.
Los Ultimos Dias
Beginning with a rhythm section reminiscent of King Crimson, this piece eventually moves into some very good jazz stylings. At times the primary guiding force to this track is the saxophone, while at other times some quite pleasant piano work dominates.
Mozambique
According to the liner notes, this fairly short track (a percussion solo) comes from a Terry Bozzio solo album.
Quanah Parker
This song is one of the stand out cuts on the album, playing out like a rather delightful jazz piece, yet somewhat in a Crimson vein. This really is a very strong number, and you will most likely find the central themes running around in your head long after you have finished listening to this album.
Nana
Starting with a superior saxophone solo, accompanied by the sounds of the seashore, the song eventually gives way to some excellent percussion and piano work. Once the piece breaks into the more energetic sections, it takes on a Zappaesque approach for a time, before settling back into some more traditional jazz stylings. Eventually the composition drops back into the Zappa influenced segment for a while, before shifting to its somewhat Spanish flavored acoustic guitar conclusion.
 
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