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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Billy Cobham

Spectrum

Review by Larry Toering

As far as I'm concerned this is one of the greatest instrumental rock albums ever made. Whether leaning heavily on jazz fusion or prog, it seems to have it all, and nothing to this day surpasses what they came up with here. And, “they” in this case includes Billy Cobham himself, along with Jan Hammer, John Tropea, Lee Sklar, Jimmy Owens, Joe Farrell, Ray Barretto and Ron Carter. If you like these elements together and have never heard this album, you're missing one of the most notorious progressive rock instrumental albums of them all. You are also missiong out on a as chance to hear how the great drummer sounded alongside the likes of the virtuosity of a young Tommy Bolin, among the rest of these first class musicians in 1973.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Quadrant 4
This is amazingly far out, in fact so much, that it's difficult to take in at first. It’s almost like a bunch of wizards feeling out their musical efforts together to see how it works. They manage to come off like that and achieve a masterstroke while doing so. The blending of everything from guitar to synth work is simply out of this world, and it even features some piano.
Searching For The Right Door / Spectrum

Two songs meet together in a few places on this album, and this is the first of those epic inclusions. This almost verges on space rock, as they did tend to do in places, and it's the killer work of Jan Hammer who's obviously behind that. The guitar work of Tommy Bolin comes alive here, as well. Still the brilliant percussion of the artist whose name this album bears cannot be denied, as it all peaks right here. And after a beating like that, the great Billy Cobham doesn't let up one bit, as the showcase of drumming begins to surface.

Anxiety / Taurian Matador

This is another interesting piece that features a combo of excellent Moog work with mesmerizing percussion parts. I think it's the most sublime point of the disc, very relaxing.

Stratus

This is perhaps the highlight, along with the title track, as it goes the distance to match it in every way.  Yet the delivery here is mellower This is absolutely cosmic!

To The Women In My Life / Le Lis

This is even mellower, but it somehow seems appropriate to take things down a notch again after the previous tune. It's all very big band style here.

Snoopy's Search / Red Baron

This features some more piano work from Jan Hammer, who I consider to be the sleeper virtuoso in the band. It takes the whole set out in an upper class fashion.

 
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