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Jean-Luc Ponty - Civilized Evil CD (album) cover


Jean-Luc Ponty


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.63 | 69 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I have heard quite a many albums by Jean-Luc Ponty (they all happen to be from the timeline 1978 - 1989), but have never before reviewed one. This is one of the five albums in the "Original Album Series Vol. 2" that I borrowed from library recently. As you may know, this French violinist-keyboardist-composer had played in Frank Zappa's band and in Mahavishnu Orchestra. A couple of years ago he made a collaborative album with Jon Anderson. He can be counted among the legendary musicians in the Fusion genre.

Ponty had at this point released so many strong albums that it's no wonder the All Music Guide reviewer writes "what was once fresh and musical has ossified into formula". It is true that many albums do sound quite similar in the end, but at least for me Civilized Evil turned out to be more enjoyable than some others. Easily more interesting than the previous studio album, more acoustically oriented A Taste for Passion (1979). Here the spacey and electronic elements -- comparable to Steve Hillage as Chris S points out -- blend very nicely with the jazz fusion virtuosity.

'Demagomania' has a funky groove and some fine synth soloing to save it from being mildly boring. 'In Case We Survive' has at first, and in the end, just electric piano/synths that sound very fresh, and conventional ensemble playing in between. 'Forms of Life' approaches New Age in some sense, without being that serene; the hypnotic violin work and the synth layers work brilliantly together. The A side of vinyl ends with good-spirited 'Peace Crusaders' which features Daryl Stuermer's guitar solo.

The latter half is a bit more uneven. The funk in 'Happy Robots' and 'Good Guys, Bad Guys' leaves me quite cold. The album as a whole feels vivant and... well, fresh! 'Once a Blue Planet' is a beautiful, moody ending. I'd place the album among the most recommendable ones for those Fusion listeners who enjoy also artists such as Steve Hillage or Ashra, even if it may not contain Ponty's finest achievements ever. 3 stars rounded up for the intriguing cover art.

Matti | 4/5 |


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