LONNIE LISTON SMITH — Visions of a New World (review)

LONNIE LISTON SMITH — Visions of a New World album cover Album · 1975 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
Fourth LL-S album and the third sporting the Cosmic Echoes name, but again very few musicians participated to the previous CF album, with only percussionist Killan and Don Smith remaining. To be honest, outside LL-S himself, most of the musos are totally unknown to me, despite the vast amount of them intervening on the album. But while only conga player Ray Armando’s name rings a bell, the others are definitely holding their ranks and we’re faced with another good soul-jazz-funk album. With its huge gatefold artwork showing LL-S in a prayer position, sporting his fetish yellow bonnet, the album continues the slow slide from the Trane-galaxy fusion towards a generally more-mainstream soul-jazz.

Right from the ultra-funky bass notes from the opening Chance For Peace, you can hear the palpable slide further towards soul-jazz and away from his early albums (Astral Travelling), and if there are some rather cool percs, great rhythms, solid horn lines and excellent vocals of Donald Smith, we’re definitely not far away from WAR. Much milder is the mid-tempo Love Beams where, despite Smith’s flute, one can’t help but be bored. And if that wasn’t enough cheese, get a load of Colours Of The Rainbow, a very slow ballad, filled with wind chimes and slow Rhodes layers. Not bad per se, but very kitsch. The closing Devika is much more interesting with its cosmic ARP synth layers, excellent congas and plenty of tempo changes.

The flipside doesn’t start in the best of manners, since the opening Sunset could be the twin brother (but sung) of the Rainbow track, but the two-part title track is setting the counter backwards, with some excellent Alice C.-type of fusion, with delicious piano in the intro, then veering up-tempo funky, not far away from Devika. The closing Summer Nights returns to the cheesy Sunset and Rainbow moods.

Yet another Cosmic Echoes album, one close to the rock idiom than the jazz one, but to be honest LL-S’ better musical days as a creator were already behind him. Too poppy for me, despite a few still very bright moments, but Visions Of A New World remains in the straight line trajectory of Liston. Definitely a bit inferior to his previous two Cosmic Echoes album.



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