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The Owl Watches - Guaranteed To Be 100% Free Of Hit Singles CD (album) cover


The Owl Watches


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 3 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Phil McKenna swoops out of the Georgia woods with another prog-fusion manifesto gripped tightly in his nimble talons and his tongue firmly planted in his beak. The song titles are both self-depreciating and a vicious clawed swipe at the music industry.

Guaranteed to Be 100% Free of Hit Singles is protected from legal action by including a hilarious disclaimer at the intro. The music can be a quirky animal, sometimes bizarre and slightly freakish, but then morph into a swinging jazzed-out beast. "Did They Even Sing?" sounds like Allan Holdsworth was abducted by Caravan and forced to play very slowly. Minor chord piano sets a drowsy mood with mellotron adding some color. Charlie Brown's grown-ups make a showing as squawking horn effects and re-appear throughout the CD. A great bass-line enhances the outro.

I had to do a little research to get the jist of the title for "A Brew for Elliot Spitzer and the Minutemen." Dr. Phil takes a poke at the recording industry and the legal battles between the two mentioned. Musically, dark and brooding until the finally two minutes when Phil's guitar solo soars above the evergreens. The tones are very violin-like. This last bit may be my favorite moments on this record.

One has to wonder what kind of rodents this predator has been ingesting, because there are some wicked dreams being explored on this disc. WARDROBE!!!! is one such surreal experience. Slinky bass with guttural snaps, slurred guitar lines that sometimes seem slither before and after the beat, mellotron and soft percussion keep it all grooving like a bowlegged beagle walking a dirt road on a hot sultry day.

"Hydrogen & Stupidity" is an ambient piece beginning with a tasteful classical guitar, soon to be accompanied by mellotron. At first listen the two seem to sonically repel each other, but after a few listens they become more compatible. "Don't Do the Mime." is another tune featuring acoustic guitar and keyboards.

Miles Davis' fusion period gets a nod with "And Your Point is." The squawking horn makes another Charlie Brown's teacher moment, but what is really striking is the tasteful guitar solo which evokes Holdsworth's more languid leads with a Tony Williams styled drum undercurrent. Very niiice (spoken in the Borrat voice).

A bit of ol' Fripp plays surf guitar comes out on "Just What Did My Royalties Pay For," for the first half of the tune, segueing into a sweetly distorted solo over a keyboard bed and finally bursts forth with a reprise of the surf suite ala KC.

"It Takes a Village to Raise an Idiot" is more surreal than Jefferson's Pillow. A honking intro that breaks into a nice fusion run with guitar and keyboards, which turn again into a bass happy jazz number and turns back on itself again. Imagine a carnival mad-house ride where something strange and different lurks around each corner. Phil never settles on a theme, which may be my only complaint regarding this project. Many very interesting ideas begin to develop, but quickly jump to another. Just as you get into the piece it morphs into some other creature, some not as appealing as others.

All in all, a 100% great addition to the collection of any, fusion leaning, prog fan.

Dan Bobrowski | 4/5 |


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