LENNY WHITE — Venusian Summer (review)

LENNY WHITE — Venusian Summer album cover Album · 1975 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
This album did nothing but just totally blow me away! Lenny White had already played for Miles Davis on his classic Bitches Brew, and then later on Return to Forever starting with Hymn of the Seventy Galaxy and ending with Romantic Warrior. Venusian Summer was obviously recorded while he was still with RTF, but here he doesn't have a regular band, he has varying guests appear on each cut, including Larry Young (who played with John McLaughlin on Devotion, as well as Love, Devotion, Surrender with McLaughlin and Carlos Santana, as well as tons albums under his own name), David Sancious, Ray Gomez, Doug Rauch (who played on Santana's Caravanserai and Welcome, as well as Love, Devotion, Surrender), Patrick Gleeson (Herbie Hancock's Crossings and Sextant, Julian Priester's Love Love), Peter Robinson (Quatermass, Sun Treader, Brand X), Al DiMeola (RTF), Larry Coryell and others.

The first two songs, "Chicken Fried Steak" and "Away Goes Trouble Down the Drain" (the latter an obvious reference to Roto Rooter, a major plumbing service here in America for you non-American readers, that's been their slogan for as long as I can remember) are just simply amazing funky songs, but I really love how Lenny White diverts from the funk template and gets more experimental. The title track, for example, is a two part piece that starts off rather spacy and eerie, but the second part gets more into fusion territory, a bit like Mahavishnu Orchestra or Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy-era RTF. "Prelude to the Rainbow Delta" is another short spacy ambient piece that leads to "Mating Drive". Here it still starts spacy and calm, with some faint eerie Mellotron choirs, but then the music really goes into such overdrive it even makes Mahavishnu Orchestra look like slouches (which is something you'd never say especially with the original lineup). "Prince of the Sea" is a bit more calm, but not in the spacy ambient territory. Here you get plenty of dueling guitar from Al DiMeola and Larry Coryell.

I almost forgot to mention the cover. This reminds me of how an H.R. Giger painting would look like if there was color and all the nightmare, alien and death imagery removed (no skulls, skeletons, or creatures from the movie Alien or looks like it should belong said movie franchise). It's because the lady's face reminded me of a Giger paint.

Anyways, Venusian Summer is nothing short of amazing! Many fusion albums seem to stick to one thing throughout and can get a bit monotonous, but here Lenny White really spices it up by exploring different ideas throughout the album, from funk, to full-on Mahavishnu Orchestra-like guitar-driven fusion to spacy ambient parts. I really can't find much fault in this album. It's not mentioned the same way as say, the first two or three Mahavishnu Orchestra album (with the original lineup) or Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior, but this album really deserves to be in your collection!
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