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Colin Bass - Planetarium (with Józef Skrzek) CD (album) cover

PLANETARIUM (WITH JÓZEF SKRZEK)

Colin Bass

 

Crossover Prog

3.07 | 6 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Singer, oh singer!

Colin Bass is apparently very popular in Poland as he has no less than three different live releases all recorded in that country. Also, on all of these, as well as on his studio solo album An Outcast Of The Islands, he has Polish musicians participating. I am not sure in which direction the causal direction runs; that is, if he is popular in Poland because he uses Polish musicians, or if he utilized Polish musicians because he was antecedently popular there. Anyway, for the present live recording, Colin collaborated with keyboard player Józef Skrzek. I don't know the precise circumstances surrounding this concert, how it came about, etc. (Maybe it was some kind of charity gig or special event?)

With only the two of them on stage, this is naturally a very stripped-down performance. But even if Colin plays only acoustic guitar and sings, this is not an "unplugged" affair as Skrzek adds lots of spacy synthesisers to the mix. The material is divided about equally between Colin Bass songs and songs that I presume are by Józef Skrzek (whom I am not previously familiar with). Three songs are taken from Colin's An Outcast Of The Islands (Goodbye To Albion, As Far As I Can See, and Denpasar Moon), and there is one Camel song in Refugee (originally from 1984's Stationary Traveller; Colin has played this song live frequently both with Camel and on his solo shows). All of these songs are good and work rather well here, though I certainly prefer other versions.

When it comes to the other songs, I must say that it is a mixed bag. The show opens with almost nine minute instrumental called Star Overture consisting of acoustic guitar and atmospheric/electronic keyboards. This one is pleasant enough and functions well to set the mood for the show. Skrzek is a good keyboard player, but (I'm sorry to say) an awful vocalist. The songs on which Skrzek takes to the microphone are difficult to bear. He has a weak voice and he sings in English with a strong Polish accent. The repetitive and clichéd lyrics don't help things along either with trite lines such as "Babe, I love you" and "Freedom, I love freedom" being repeated over and over. It would have been much better to let Colin sing all the songs, or just keep them instrumental.

I think that this concert could have been much better with a full band backing up the two men. With the addition of a rhythm section and some electric guitars, the sound could be a lot more interesting. As it stands, it feels a bit "naked" and leaves a lot to be desired. If you are interested in Colin Bass live, I strongly recommend you to start instead with the much better double-disc set called Live At Polskie Radio 3. That album includes full band versions of all of the Colin Bass songs also present on this album plus many more, including several more Camel songs.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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