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Billy Cobham - Spectrum CD (album) cover


Billy Cobham


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.28 | 525 ratings

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4 stars Spectrum is the first solo album from drum-wizard Billy Cobham, well known from his contributions to Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra albums. It's a true fusion classic with wildly rocking and engaging jazz-rock, but for a masterpiece it fails me a bit when it comes to the song material.

The opening Quadrant 4 offers a strange hybrid of big band jazz with frantic Mahavishnu Orchestra aggression. It's a good energizing opener but the mix of styles doesn't entirely do it for me, the main bass line remains a bit too simple and standard jazz. Searching for the Right Door works better. After a mystifying percussive opening, the swinging and catchy main theme opens. An intricate jam follows with focused soloing and - if needed mentioning - amazing drumming. The same song pattern is repeated on Anxiety / Taurian Matador, a short drum solo introduces another energy jam. It misses a quality lead melody though. The keyboards and guitar go in overdrive during the extensive soloing. Surely not the most remarkable composition from the album.

But then comes true mastership. Stratus is one of the finest funk/fusion tracks ever. It opens with dreamy sound effects and percussion before the dead-catchy funky bass-riff kicks in. It's a phenomenal groove with beautiful melodies and a delicate spacious arrangement that gets more intense as it goes along. In the 90s this groove became famous amongst trip-hoppers when Massive Attack adapted the song by adding soulful female vocals to the main bass line and rhythm. It became quite a cult-hit and one of my favorite 'pop' songs (Safe From Harm).

Time to relax to the smooth funk of Le Lis, a catchy and cool tune with beautiful brass melodies. Also the last track revolves around a slow and sexy dub groove, this time with some bluesy guitar soloing.

Spectrum is a fine fusion album with a wide range of compositions of which some are remarkably better then others. But with no real dips, the one masterpiece Stratus sure warrants a 4 stars overall.

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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