Monday, February 23, 2004

Today picks up where Friday left off, so if you didn't read that entry you might want to take a quick peek. It's worth keeping in mind that Allmusic's review of The Real Great Escape isn't at all atypical...most publications that I've checked either ignore it entirely or use words like "disaster" (to cite one example).

I'm pretty sure that the problem is simply that jazz reviewers aren't the right people to ask about this album.

I have to run errands this morning, so for now I'm posting two tracks. I'll be revising this page around 2:00 today, and I'll be replacing the songs with different ones. I just don't have time to write anything substantial right now. So visit twice today and you'll get to hear a substantial chunk of the album.

[I'm back. This is now the revised version with different songs.]

Part of me wants to get into a long explanation of why The Real Great Escape isn't at all a disaster, but that seems sort of pointless since I'm posting tracks from it and you can judge for yourself. I've been tempted to make something of the fact that the cover photo features Larry running down an alleyway, but I don't really go for lit-crit type reviews so I won't.

Here's the first song from the album, The Real Great Escape, which starts off in Jimi Hendrix territory, but soon turns into an extended one-note vamp with Larry's singing disguised by some sort of talk-boxy effect. After the beginning, the song basically hits a point where it sounds like the climax of the instrumental break of a pop song, but then it just stays there. There's a lot going on, even though melodically the songs is basically one note, and I highly recommend headphones.

Here's Makes Me Wanna Shout which has has a vocal melody that pretty skillfully navigates a whole bunch of chord changes. The bit where he sings "After all the complicated changes we've been through..." is so pretty. I'm tempted to read that line as a joke, but actually the song's changes aren't all that complicated for a jazz musician, so probably not. Really, I can imagine an edit of this (minus some of the soloing) fitting in nicely with some old Chicago. The saxophone solos put me off, but as I've said before I don't think that's the sax's fault -- it's my own issue.

Finally, the last song on the album is called P.F. Sloan and it was written by Jimmy Webb (whose work you probably know, even if you don't know that you know it). It's one of two Webb compositions on the album; the other is All My Love's Laughter which is a wonderful ballad that wouldn't have been out of place on a Mick Ronson album (note that Scott Walker also did a cover of that one).

I just don't know what problem people have with all of this. The songwriting is good, both on the Coryell and the Webb tracks. The soloing isn't obnoxious, Larry's voice has no problems that I can hear (I think it's actually pretty interesting), the sound is great, the band is tight with emphasis on the drummer who manages to avoid doing a lot of the things that jazz drummers can do that I find annoying. Even the synthesizer isn't a problem (though I suspect that they were saved by having to use an ARP which had a fairly limited number of crap settings...I'm pretty sure that a few years later this album would have been ruined by the addition of wank-o-ramic synths galore). What's sad is that there really isn't any more Larry Coryell product that sounds like what I've been posting (aside from some extremely hard to find stuff that predates his Lady Coryell album). Personally I love what he was doing here and wish there was more. I got briefly excited when I learned that his son Julian was putting out rock albums, but what I've heard is really awful LA style generica.

In honor of that last song P.F. Sloan, tomorrow involves connecting the dots between Larry Coryell and the band Death By Chocolate.

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