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Symphonic Slam - Symphonic Slam   CD (album) cover

SYMPHONIC SLAM

Symphonic Slam

 

Prog Related

3.74 | 36 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars A one-shot not quite wonder that is supposedly the first album to feature a synth guitar, played by founder and nearly one-man-band Timo Laine. Dave Stone (later of Rainbow) provides bass but played on keyboards, and John Lowery (who I’ve never heard of before or since) plays drums. There was another album titled “Her Fire” issued on Laine’s own label, but I’ve never seen or heard it and imagine considering it was released at the height of both punk and disco that it didn’t get much distribution.

This one is a bit uneven, but when everything clicks it is excellent. Tracks like “I Won't Cry” with a mundane blues rhythm and borderline cheese-laden lushness from the synth- guitar, and the almost nondescript “Modane Train” are distractions.

But the rest of the album is quite an adventure in brash synthesized sound with a decidedly progressive bent at a time when such albums were in short supply at your local record store. A few times the band wanders backwards to Rare Bird, Cactus, Ramatam-like territory such as on the dated-sounding nature retrospective “Times Run Short”, or on the faux new-age ballad “Summer Rain”.

But for a good portion of the album Laine’s guitar licks (if they can be called that) are tight, lush, and well coordinated with the keyboard tracks. There are a lot of unusual synthetic sounds on this album that are clearly experimental, but Laine and Stone seem to do a good job of resisting the temptation to go hog-wild in entertaining themselves, and show restraint in a way that contemporaries like Edgar Winter or Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen could not. The opening “Universe”, closing “How do you Stand (Before the Lord)”, and the majestic and spacey “Everytime” are highlights.

This is a decent, but not great album. It hasn’t aged particularly well, but has enough of an experimental edge to it that it can still yield a few surprisingly interesting moments for those hearing it for the first time.

Recommended to most Art Rock fans, as well as those who cut their musical teeth in the early eighties. Both groups should appreciate the artificial but tastefully produced licks on this album, and won’t likely be put off by the occasional tendency to reveal the fact the album was recorded in the late seventies. Three stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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