STANLEY CLARKE — Stanley Clarke (review)

STANLEY CLARKE — Stanley Clarke album cover Album · 1974 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
js
Stanley Clarke's second outing shows him taking on that heavy progressive rock influenced fusion style that he helped pioneer in Return to Forever. This album is good, but it doesn't quite match RTF or fellow rockin fusioneers like Mahavishnu and Jeff Beck when it comes to brilliance and striking compositions. Still, I think most fans of 70s fusion would find a lot to like here. The album opens with 'Vulcan Princess' which recalls RTF's 'No Mystery' with it's weird synth driven futuristic rock/funk. Former RTF guitarist Bill Connors turns in some blazing solos on this one. Clarke follows with a short thoroughly embarrassing vocal number about a Vulcan Princess called 'Yesterday Princess'. Yeah, I don't get it either, best just to remove this song with your pocket knife or straight razor.

Anyway, 'Lopsy Lu' gets us back on track with some great triplet swing funk grooves and a killer bass line that had all the bass players in the world trying to learn how to get that Stanley Clarke thump-pop sound. This is the kind of groove that Jeff Beck and Jan Hammer would exploit big time in their many outings together. 'Power' starts as a decent but somewhat plodding fusion rock song that improves considerably when the band breaks into a high speed ascending chord progression while Bill Connor and Tony Williams tear it up.

Side two opens with the classical/jazz composition 'Spanish Phases for Strings and Bass'. Clarke's string orchestrations are outstanding and highly original, but unfortunately they take a back seat to what sounds like a lengthy string bass solo. The album closes with 'Life Suite', an ambitious mix of driving progressive rock influenced fusion, funk/jazz and semi- classical orchestrations. Some sections of this lengthy number go on a little too long.

With two members of RTF on board, plus Jan Hammer and Tony Williams, it is a pretty safe bet that fans of the electric RTF, Mahavishnu and the later version of Lifetime, as well as any other heavy rockin fusion band, will probably dig Stanley's sometimes brilliant sophomore effort.
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