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Alan White - Ramshackled CD (album) cover

RAMSHACKLED

Alan White

 

Crossover Prog

2.49 | 43 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars ALAN WHITE (born 1949) is of course best-known as the long-standing (or long-sitting) drummer with YES, having taken over the drum sticks from Bill Bruford midway through the gruelling Yessongs (1973) tour. Alan White has appeared on every YES studio album from 1973 onwards, starting with the "Tales from Topographic Oceans" album right through to the final YES album "Heaven & Earth" in 2014. Alan White's first and last solo album "Ramshackled" (1976) was recorded at a time when all of the YES members were taking a well-earned break from the band after the rigours of recording the "Relayer" (1975) album. Amongst the guest musicians appearing on his one and only solo outing were Alan White's YES bandmates Steve Howe and Jon Anderson, who both appeared on "Spring - Song of Innocence".

Ooooh Baby, this powerful opening song is a real surprise because "Ooooh Baby (Goin' to Pieces)" is a complete departure from the proggy music of YES. This is a lively Blue-Eyed Soul number, featuring the deep soulful voice of Alan Marshall (who?) getting all emotional. There's a fast-paced Jazzy feel to the music with some resounding supersonic outbursts of Hammond organ and with Alan White pounding away passionately at an incredible pace on the drums. All in all, it's a great way to open the album. The second song "One Way Rag" has a funky syncopated groove, so if you're looking for fun and feeling groovy, you may be inspired to get up and dance, or get down and boogie to this stirring Soul number. The lovely three-part harmonies of the soulful backing singers - Madeline Bell, Joanne Williams & Vicky Brown - sound in mighty fine voice on this uplifting Jazz-Funk song. These three gospel girls have got SOUL! There's no clue as to what the next piece of music might be all about, because the mysteriously-titled "Avakak" is a Jazzy instrumental. It's the longest piece of music on the album at nearly seven minutes in duration, so there's plenty of time to unleash a wild foray into the weird and wonderful realms of experimental Jazz-Fusion. And now we come to the beautiful highlight of the album, "Spring - Song of Innocence", a bright and sunny song that's positively abounding with the innocent joys of spring. This truly gorgeous song features Alan White's YES bandmates Jon Anderson on vocals and Steve Howe on guitar. It's a lovely warm song that's all aglow with optimism and shining brightly with all of the radiant energy of a one million candle power lighthouse on full beam.

Side Two opens in stirring style with "Giddy", a soulful Jazz-Rock refrain, featuring a scintillating synthesiser solo. This is another rousing Blue-Eyed Soul number that barrels along non-stop at a giddy pace with Alan White's drums instilling the song with dynamic energy and power. The next song "Silly Woman" represents the silliest inclusion on the album. It's a playfully light-hearted pseudo Reggae song that sounds like a bright burst of Caribbean sunshine, but it's a long way distant from Bob Marley & the Wailers. It's as close to genuine Jamaican Reggae as "The Tide is High" by Blondie or "Tropical Loveland" by ABBA. It's time now to raise a glass for the brief alcoholic interlude "Marching into a Bottle", an instrumental flighty flute and guitar excursion to while away two minutes of spare time whilst sipping on your favourite aperitif. Gather 'round "Everybody", because that's the title of our next stirring Jazz-Rock song. This soulful Jazzy number storms along at a thunderous pace, and if you listen carefully, you can hear those same steel drum sounds of the Caribbean that we heard earlier on the "Silly Woman" song. "Darkness" is descending now for the closing song of the album. This lovely symphonic melody features a rich tapestry of lush orchestral strings - arranged and conducted by David Bedford - although it's still a Jazzy Blue-Eyed Soul song at heart.

If you're expecting to hear elements of the classic YES sound in Alan White's "Ramshackled", then you can expect to be sorely disappointed, because it's not in the least bit proggy. On the other hand, if you're in the mood for some stirring Jazz-Funk with a heart full of Soul, then this might just be the album for you. There's a couple of real shining highlights on the album: "Spring - Song of Innocence" to close out Side One, and "Darkness" to close out Side Two, and the album as a whole represents a good all-round debut from YES drummer Alan White. It's certainly not a "Ramshackled" album in any way, shape or form.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |

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