BILLY COBHAM — Spectrum (review)

BILLY COBHAM — Spectrum album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
The accessible, though effective and addictive, entry to the Jazz Rock world...

Being a huge fan of Deep Purple, specially of their record featuring Tommy Bolin, Come Taste the Band, I was searching back then what else had this incredible and unique guitarist had made. First thing to come up was obviously this record, Spectrum by a unknown drummer for me at that time. Bought it with no hesitation, and when I first played it I can assure you that I was no less than astonished! Already from the initial blast-off of Cobham's rapid show-off drumming and Jan Hammer's fast paced Moog, I had to raise the speakers volume up to 11.

After having listened to the entire album, I really felt that Tommy Bolin's guitar work in here had really outdone his already marvelous work he had done with Deep Purple. In here he's capable of expressing much more than what he was allowed to express with Deep Purple; a totally mind-blowing mix of powerful rock-esque tones with funk and jazz sensibilities, as well as completely unique crazy sounds: this was immediately shown in the opener, Quadrant 4, though in Stratus can also be easily heard.

However that's as far how Tommy Bolin sounded, that said, he's not the only one sparking in here. Already knowing it's a solo album by a drummer, Billy Cobham, (and he's not any drummer) you must expect lots of show-offs by him as well, that is in each of the tunes the intro is done by him solely and of course all along the tunes his presence is always worth of mention; indeed a master of the drum-case.

Also, let's not forget of the Moog-master player, Jan Hammer, who few other players can match his proficiency on the synths, Hancock, Duke and Corea come to my mind. In this record he also standouts with lots of fresh sounds and ideas very much alike as he did with Mahavishnu Orchestra, worth mentioning is the eternal duels against Tommy Bolin, in which in the end you really can't be sure who really won, since both offer such creative and blasting solos: clear example of this is Taurian Matador.

So far from the descriptions from the standout members makes it seem more of a 'rock' record than a Jazz one, doesn't it? Well, don't think it's like that, you got Joe Farell, from the early Return to Forever line-up, delivering jazzy sax/flute melodies among some of the tunes, these are: Le Lis and Spectrum. And of course let's not forget that Tommy Bolin, Jan Hammer and Billy Cobham are very inclined towards jazz, so in the end do expect a full- blown jazz jock record with lots of funky and rock leanings, but still faithful to the jazz-roots.

The musicianship on board needs no more mention, while the compositions not actually being the most inventive nor most complex, and definitely any of the classic fusion bands really outdo anything on here on those terms(composition), they still all groove with such energy and become instantly addictive since day one, which in this case few of the classic jazz rock bands can manage to do that.

Masterpiece by Billy Cobham, Tommy Bolin, Jan Hammer & Co.
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