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The Brecker Brothers - The Brecker Brothers CD (album) cover

THE BRECKER BROTHERS

The Brecker Brothers

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.14 | 3 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Well, those reading my embarrassing blunders that serve this site as reviews, they will know that I'm a JR/F fan and enjoy most (if not all) of what came between 69 and 75. However the Brecker Brothers is definitely I band I could do without, because I've always found their ultra-technical and complex funk-fusion rather unmoving intellectually. Oh sure, their music is extremely well-made and somewhat very danceable, but it's often closer to Chic or the Pharoah/EW&F than it is to Mwandishi or early Weather Report' Different eras indeed, but that's always been my point (or Achilles' heel, if you wish). And the BB definitely belong sonically to the second half of the 70's. In the band's early line-up, we find the future sax star Sanborn, the by-now old-hand Harvey Mason on drums and Grolnick on keys.

Indeed, there are ultra-clean mothering funks on the album, like the opening Skunk Funk or the following Sponge, or Rocks and DBB on the flipside, all of them with impressive techniques and virtuosity, but that also lack soul (which is kind of weird for funk music). Is it the fault that the production is too clean, too slick? Most likely, ' mon humble opinion. Don't get me wrong, there are some delightful moments on the album, but unfortunately, there is often something that doesn't click all that well for me. Even when their 100 MPH music does slow down like in the Many-Faced Creature, the feel is rather cold and slick, instead of suave and sweaty. The album's better tracks are conga-filled Twilight

On the flipside, five relatively shorter tracks, with only the opening Sneaking Up Behind You nearing 5 minutes, and I believe this was the 'hit' back then, and also the only sung track, with somewhat average and semi-scatting but still-catchy War-like vocals, laid over some strings synth layers. The following Rocks might have been renamed Funks, because that 150 MPH muze will certainly funk up with your brains, but maybe too much for your own good. The problem is that when BB really slows down, they tend to fall asleep and they're contagious, and the Levitate more or less Gravitates, and the following soppy and sappy sung My Stars really dropped shamelessly below the ground level, leaving DBB give a honest closing to the debut album.

Well theoretically, an instrumental JR/F album from the mid-70's should still please me, and in a way, it does. But there was such an over-production of these vinyl plaques during those years, that I'm simply never in need or feel to play any of BB's albums, outside maybe once in a decade their debut (and presently reviewed) album. So if indeed one must investigate the BB, starting with the first two albums is the best (and only, IMHO) place to start, because by their third album, BB were not much more than a technically brilliant AOR (read radio-friendly) band without much interest to the demanding fusionheads.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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