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Bob Downes' Open Music - Electric city CD (album) cover


Bob Downes' Open Music


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.09 | 15 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Released on the legendary Vertigo "swirl" label, Electric City was one of the wilder and more obscure issues of the famous 6360 series. But if I say wild and obscure, it is nothing compared to his later works in the mid-70's, as here the music is very accessible resembling some kind of brass rock, as the cast of guest on Bob's first album is an impressive who's who of Phillips-related musicians, pictured assembled on the inner gatefold. The outer gatefold presents a wild collage electronic devices, wild psychedelic colours and Downes in full action, the whole thing permeating a white dummy head; stunning, especially once you'll be that white face

Made of short tracks (except the closing opus), the album has splendid up-tempo rhythms, juicy horn arrangements, great virtuoso musicianship and acceptable vocals. Yup, Downes' vocals are not the main asset of this album yet, Bob's lyrics (all his except for the opening No Time like The Present, which is from poet Robert Cockburn, foreseeing their collab of Deep Down Heavy) are always interesting, but let's face it, we want his flute and sax and he doesn't disappoint. Indeed the fabulous Keep Off The Grass, Dawn Until Dawn (where Downes shows his passion for sax as well), the pedestrian Walkin' On (Bob goes nuts on the sax), the tense Crush Hour, the explosive Piccadilly Circles (waaaah, the pun) and its direct continuity into the lengthy (7-mins+) Gonna Take A Journey, which plunges into free improvs.

Other titles are more R'nB, like Don't Let Tommorrow, Go Find Time, and the bossa nova West II (the worst track of the album, even if saved by a high-flying sax solo) are less enthralling, but all remain high energy. Although we are in full brass-rock delire with this album, it never gets cheesy or pompous or bombastic as BS&T. No we're facing some of the best of the genre, right up with Brainchild, Galliard and a few more.

Although Electric City is a fine album, one that epitomizes his first three efforts, it sounds NOTHING like the later works of his. But this one is definitely worth a shot and should be the introduction to Downes' world of sounds.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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