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Cozy Powell - Over the Top CD (album) cover


Cozy Powell


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.62 | 23 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Many people would not readily associate the name of the late, great Cozy Powell with a 'highbrow' musical style such as Jazz-Rock/Fusion. The flamboyant, hard-hitting veteran drummer, the powerhouse behind such high-profile, hard rocking acts as Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group and Black Sabbath (not to mention a brief stint replacing Carl Palmer as the P in ELP), was not renowned for the subtlety of his approach to drumming. Having been considered a as a replacement for both John Bonham and Keith Moon should bear witness to the fact that Cozy, though by all means a very skilled, highly regarded practitioner of his craft, was certainly not cut out of the same cloth as the likes of Bill Bruford.

However, Cozy was not only about bashing the living daylights out of his kit. As someone who had been a fixture of the British rock scene for over thirty years by the time of his tragic death, for his first solo outing he was able to assemble a cast of musicians to die for - many of them associated with seminal jazz-rock band Colosseum and its later incarnation, Colosseum II. Powell's rhythm sidekick is none other than bass legend Jack Bruce, whose overall performance is nothing short of awe-inspiring; while guitars are provided by Irish hotshot Gary Moore, Dave Clem Clempson (of Colosseum and Humble Pie fame), and former Babe Ruth and Whitesnake member Bernie Marsden (a longtime friend and collaborator of Powell's). Current Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey (another of Cozy's longtime friends and musical partners) and Jeff Beck collaborator Max Middleton are responsible for the lush tapestry of keyboard sounds.

Wholly instrumental, Over the Top is bookended by two tracks that are in some ways a statement of intent: the grandiose yet infectious Theme One (known to most proggers in VDGG's version), and the no-holds-barred drum extravaganza of the title-track, based around an extract from Tchaikovsky's Ouverture 1812 (which was soon to become Cozy's live showcase), complete with artillery and sumptuous orchestral arrangements. The remaining five tracks, however, more than hold their own against those two exhilarating pieces - my personal favourite being the aptly-titled, fast-paced Killer, punctuated by Bruce's deft, dynamic bass work, and further enhanced by Gary Moore's own trademark blend of technique and emotion. The slower, melodic Sweet Poison and the bluesy, wistful The Loner (dedicated to Cozy's mentor, Jeff Beck) both feature sterling performances from Clem Clempson on guitar and dazzling keyboard work from Max Middleton (who wrote both tracks); while the Bernie Marsden-penned El Sid offers further proof of Jack Bruce's chops as a four-stringer.

Those who loved Colosseum II's three albums and Jeff Beck's Wired and Blow by Blow will find this album essential listening. Anyone looking for the perfect blend of stellar musicianship and emotional intensity will not be disappointed by Over the Top, an album miles away from the often sterile display of technical skill that seems to plague modern-day progressive rock. Indeed, an excellent addition to the PA database - 4.5 stars for this forgotten masterpiece.

Raff | 4/5 |


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