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London Underground - Four CD (album) cover

FOUR

London Underground

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.50 | 13 ratings

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Steve Conrad
3 stars KEYBOARD-CENTRIC ECSTASY

If you like keyboards and more keyboards layered over keyboards, with an astonishingly tight rhythm section laying down tight grooves- you'll love LONDON UNDERGROUND.

Add in spacey, jazzy jams that sometimes sound lifted from classic progressive albums of yore (think Atomic Rooster, Pink Floyd, Argent, heck, even vintage Santana- you'll get the flavor, fall under the spell of the music, and emerge on the other side with a grin.

At least I did.

LONDON UNDERGROUND

I've heard it said that long-time lovers begin to look alike, think alike, react alike- so much that one can finish the other's sentences.

That's the feeling I get listening to these veteran musicians. They've been working and playing together long enough to know where the music is headed, when to build, when to draw back- then build again.

I CONFESS...

...I can't decipher the album title runes(?), but I see this album listed as "4", which is fitting and proper as it's apparently the fourth release by the band, now consisting of GIANLUCA GERLINI on multiple keys, STEFANO GABBANI playing bass guitar, and ALESSANDRO GIMIGNANI on drums.

Several guests, including former member Fabio Baini, add bass guitar, guitar, viola, and some superb sax sprinkled throughout this 56 minute disc.

THERE'S SORT OF A FORMULA

Although the entry to each tune varies, it's based on fairly simple patterns established by bass and drums at times, ethereal keyboards, or various combinations.

Then there are serious jazzy workouts, often lead by growling Hammond, or synthesizer sounds, and guitar here and there.

At times the keyboards including Mellotron, string sounds, electric piano (sadly, never acoustic piano), are setting a mysterious or foreboding mood, while the rhythm section absolutely cooks. I was repeatedly impressed by the understated, tasteful wizardry of Gimignani on the drum-kit. Certainly each player holds his own; no slouches here.

I thought guitars could have profitably been given a bit more prominent role.

STAND-OUT TRACKS

Each track is strong. I especially found "What I Say" with its soaring sax lines and uptempo backing, winsome. Also, "Tropic of Capricorn" (Brian Auger) and "Jam" wormed into my heart, with stentorian keyboard lines nudged by crisp hi-hat fills and solid bass guitar underneath, or the knockout drum groove in "Jam".

BONUS TRACKS

On the CD and vinyl editions of "4", you'll also get classic Joe Zawinul tune "Mercy Mercy Mercy" made famous by Cannonball Adderley, and Wes Montgomery tune "Bumpin' on Sunset". To these ears, nothing new was really brought to the table by these cover tunes.

IN SUM

Fine, fun keyboard-centered jazzy, psychedelic, progressive album. I'm going with three and a half stars on this one- better than "good", but not bringing enough "progressive" to merit "essential" for your collection.

Steve Conrad | 3/5 |

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