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


Jean-Luc Ponty


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.63 | 69 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars I was living in NYC when this record came out in 1980, the year that I graduated from HS, and it stuck with me all the way through college. This record brings back some of the fondest memories of my college days. I finally gave it a rest during the 1990s, after wearing out my vinyl copy. I've recently picked up a remastered CD version and once again I'm mesmerized by this recording.

I have to say, unequivocally, that this is ONE OF THE BEST records I've ever listened to. It's progressive, yet accessible, showcasing some of JLP's best music of his career. I'm quite surprised not seeing a single FIVE STAR rating anywhere for this album. Stunned is more accurate!

This album is not very "European". By that I mean that it's not as classically oriented as some of his other records and not necessarily as jazzy either. Civilized Evil is the funkiest, most urban work that that JLP had done to date; closer to rock and electronica than jazz or classical. Randy Jackson, of American Idol fame, holds down some of the NASTIEST bass grooves you will ever hear on any JLP record; or on ANY record! The doubling of the bass lines on bass guitar and synths makes for a very heavy, thick, urban soundscape.

If you haven't heard much, if any, JLP you need to be advised that MOST JLP records, and MOST CERTAINLY Civilized Evil, contain LOTS AND LOTS of keyboards and synths. If you HATE keyboard driven music you should probably pass on Jean-Luc Ponty's Civilized Evil. That being said, Chris Ryne's work on this record is right up there, and perhaps surpasses, the best work by any other keyboard player that JLP has ever worked with. Fast and furious solo lines blend seamlessly with sequenced passages and funky electric piano comps.

As for guitars, well, you don't listen to JLP for guitars(aside from Enigmatic Ocean, featuring Allan Holdsworth). Guitars are typically relegated to rhythm duties and an occasional solo. This is not to say that the guitars are bad. On the contrary! It's just that JLP's music is not guitar-centric. On Civilized Evil the main guitarist is Joaquin Lieavano, a JLP fixture on a handful of other albums, and Daryl Sturmer who lends a hand by supplying solos on some of the best tracks of the album. His solo duel with JLP on Good Guys, Bad Guys is specially nasty and fast; typical Sturmer stuff.

And....of course, JLP's violin virtuosity, as always, is in top form on Civilized Evil: beautiful, melodic solos with the patented JLP scalar madness on display in full force. Perhaps what I like most about Civilized Evil are the melodies and how they interplay so well with the underlying, ever-present FUNK that's laid down by Jackson(bass), Mark Craney(drums) and Rhyme(keys).

I HIGHLY recommend Civilized Evil and I EASILY consider it a masterpiece and a top jewel of the JLP catalog. Proggers who enjoy melodies intertwined with daring synth/keyboard work(ala Eddie Jobson of UK) should enjoy this recording immensely.

wbiphoto | 5/5 |


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