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Cozy Powell - Octopuss CD (album) cover


Cozy Powell


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.69 | 15 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars With his third solo album, released in 1983, powerhouse drummer Cozy Powell wisely reverted to the format of his debut, Over the Top, after the half-baked effort that had been 1981's Tilt - that is, ditching any attempts at including songs, and going for an all-instrumental tracklist. At the time, Powell was a member of Whitesnake (I saw him perform with them at Castle Donington a few months after the album's release), so he enlisted the help of some of his bandmates for the recording of Octopuss - whose title oddly recalls the James Bond movie Octopussy, also released in 1983. The album cover, which shows Powell behind his kit, looking a bit like a many-armed Hindu deity, is also clearly reminiscent of the movie's official poster.

As in the case of Over the Top, the album features a series of classy, dynamic hard/jazz-rock numbers, as well as two covers of popular pieces of music, this time soundtracks to well-known movies - respectively, 1964 war flick 633 Squadron, and William Wyler western The Big Country (starring John Wayne). The orchestral arrangements on both tracks provide the ideal background for Powell's drum pyrotechnics, though both of them are definitely more restrained than the wonderfully bombastic title-track of the first album.

Though the overall level of the compositions is quite high, there are a couple of highlights that are probably worth the price of the whole album. One is the Gary Moore-penned Dartmoore (notice the pun in the title), inspired by the camping trip that Cozy and his then-new boss, David Coverdale, had made a few months earlier to the titular, scenic area of southwestern England. It is a brilliant, slow-burning, guitar-driven piece in the style of the previous album's stunning Sunset, though somehow lacking the latter's deeply poignant quality. The other is the title-track, a highly original offering which is basically a dialogue between Powell's drums and Colin Hodgkinson's jaw-dropping bass, backed by Jon Lord's trademark, rumbling Hammond organ. Closing track The Rattler (co-written by Powell and Coverdale) also deserves a mention: a brisk, energetic (though rather short) workout, introduced by a veritable drum explosion, it features some very tasteful guitar licks.

Octopuss was to be the last solo album to be recorded by Cozy in a long time: his fourth album, The Drums Are Back, the last released before his early demise in 1998, came out in 1992. In the meantime, the legendary drummer lent his considerable skills to a large number of bands, including the ELP incarnation where the P stood for Powell instead of Palmer. This album offers further proof of his ability to play different kinds of music than the hard-hitting rock for which he is mainly known. With excellent musicianship throughout, and interesting, well-written compositions, Octopuss will appeal to both fans of vintage rock and hard-edged jazz-rock. A highly recommended addition to your collection.

Raff | 4/5 |


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