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Stanley Clarke - Stanley Clarke CD (album) cover

STANLEY CLARKE

Stanley Clarke

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.82 | 53 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Clarke second and self-titled solo album shows a distinct evolution along the RTF lines, and not only with the label change from Polydor to Columbia's subsidiary Epic label. Sometimes considered by some as Stanley's real solo debut, because it features the famous "brown" electric bass; even if the back picture still shows him on the contrabass. Guest feature RTF"s Bill Connors, Ex-Mahavishnu (and future Jeff Beck Group) Jan Hammer and Lifetime's Tony Williams (another teen prodigy) on drums, but there is a string section and a horn section as well. This album was recorded at Hendrix' Electric Ladyland by Ken Scott (of Elton, Supertramp and Bowie fame), but it is not that much a rockier album than RTF or other SC albums.

If the previous COF was reminiscent of the first RTF era (a "Farellian" flute and Piurimist vocals), this album is much more in the solid JR/F mould, not too far from Where I Have I or No Mystery, even if Connors's guitar would have (misleadingly) thinking of Seventh Hymn. The main improvement of this s/t album over COF, is that it is mostly instrumental, sometimes maybe a tad too much so (I'm simply never satisfied, uh??), with only the short Yesterday Princess, where Stanley sings and plays piano. Hammer handles the rest of the keyboards, more in the style of his own solo debut or Beck mode, than in the Mahavishnu mode. Opening on the dynamite RTF-imprinted Vulcan Princess, the album's first side glides smoothly onto the Lopsy Lu funk-jazz (much reminiscent of No Mystery), before ending on a Hammer-dominated Power, where Williams' drumming might appear a bit too binary.

The flipside opens of the awesome Flamenco & classical Spanish Phases, where Stanley lets its bass rip your woofer's membranes over delicate strings arrangements, an amazing showpiece for Clarke's bass abilities. The album ends on the four-movement near 14- mins Life Suite, the album's apex, with some of the hottest RTF-like JR/F ever, but also the proggiest as well. Indeed, the mood and breaks are constantly changing and often much subtler than on most prog albums. Connors shines on the electric guitar, even if he always was more at ease on the acoustic, but you'd never guess it by listening to this track's mammoth solo.

Considered by many to be Clarke's best solo piece - I'm pretty close to thinking so myself ? it certainly is one of the genre's cornerstone on which it was built upon. Actually this is not Stanley's best-selling album (that'll be the upcoming School Days), but it's certainly the most impressive for progheads.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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