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Billy Cobham - The Billy Cobham - George Duke Band:


Billy Cobham

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Mellotron Storm
3 stars Excellent lineup on this one as Cobham has 3 Americans with him as he toured across Europe. George Duke on keyboards of course played with Zappa as well as Jean-Luc Ponty. Alfonso Johnson on bass is probably best known for his work on those 3 classic WEATHER REPORT albums. John Scofield on lead guitar has quite a long solo career and put out an album with Pat Metheny.This recording is from the "Montreaux Jazz Festival" from 1976. Man that is one of the freakiest album covers i've ever seen !

"Hip Pockets" is a Cobham composition and a good one. Check out the funky bass lines from Johnson here. Of course Cobham is restrained for the most part. This isn't MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA after all. I like the guitar throughout. Liquid keys as it calms 2 minutes in. It gets funky again as Billy kicks in with those drum fills. Some atmosphere 4 1/2 minutes in as it settles again. Nice guitar work here. Back to the funk. "Ivory Tattoo" is Scofield's lone song. Nice guitar intro as drums join in. Soon keys and bass arrive as well. I like the synths on this one that come and go early.The guitar is outstanding. Duke shines on piano after 3 minutes. "Space Lady" opens with Duke telling a story as he offers up the background music too. More talking than music. Not a fan.

"Almustafa The Beloved" is Johnson's only composition. It also opens with a narration this time by guest Jon Lucien. Drums then come in with guitar and bass. Nice. Vocals 2 minutes in from Johnson and Duke. They really add to the song by the way. The drumming and guitar work is outstanding. "Do What Cha Wanna" is Duke's fault. I mean song. Man this is like Motown music. Yikes ! Enough said. "Frankenstein Goes To The Disco" is experimental with Cobham on the drum synthesizers. Difficult to listen to this for over 7 minutes without twitching and blinking a lot. "Sweet Wine" is better once it gets going. Some chapman stick from Johnson too. "Juicy" is the only Duke track I like.The guitar is incredible as Cobham pounds away. I like the keyboard work as well. Billy really stars in this one though.

I hate to give this less then 4 stars but it really is a mixed bag for me. Very much hit and miss. So 3 stars it is.

Report this review (#197927)
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I first heard of this "supergroup", which consists of drummer Billy Cobham, keyboardist George Duke, guitarist John Scofield, and bassist/Stick player Alphonso Johnson, my expectations were high. While not exactly a grand-slam of an album, I was hooked from the first listen.

This album contains, on most tracks, a blend of funk, rock, R&B, and jazz. This is demonstrated best on the instrumental tracks "Hip Pockets", "Ivory Tattoo", "Sweet Wine", and "Juicy". These four songs are what really make the album special to me, the band just gels so well together that it amazes me how short-lived this group was. These instrumentals show the group in full democratic mode when it comes to soloing and overall representation on each track.

George Duke demonstrates his possibly Zappa-inherited humour on "Space Lady", a solo piece as he tells an extra-terrestrial tale with use of his keyboard to vocalize the alien in his story. "Almustafa The Beloved", penned by Alphonso Johnson, allows Johnson to share lead vocals with Duke and demonstrate Emmett Chapman's unique musical instrument to the crowd, but the song itself ends somewhat abruptly. "Do What Cha Wanna" is the most straight-forward track on the album, pretty much a dressed-up R&B song but a rather catchy song with great lead vocals by Duke and Cobham (possibly Johnson too, I don?t have my liner notes with me) provides superb background vocals. "Frankenstein Goes To The Disco" is a drum/keys duet that goes on a bit too long. This track would probably be more stimulating to witness visually (the band's Montreux performance on DVD would make the perfect companion to this album).

An excellent album to add to your collection, especially if you're a jazz fusion fan.

Report this review (#216600)
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This isn't a masterpiece of jazz rock fusion by any means, but it is tasty. Billy Cobham and George Duke, along with guitarist John Scofield and bassist Alfonso Johnson server up a generous slice of seventies fusion, without too much of that disco flavor that was beginning to permeate the genre at the time.

Duke, fresh out of Frank Zappa's band, gets to show off his twisted sense of humor on Space Lady, which harkens back to some of the improv work he did with Frank, but remains a throwaway piece. Johnson's Almustafa The Beloved, a vocal piece, reminds me a bit of Stanley Clarke's early compositions, albeit without the impossibly fast bass licks.

Disco does rear it's ugly head on Duke's Do What Cha Wanna. But it is tolerable disco, until that nasty string synth comes in during the break.

Okay, he's got that out of his system. Now back to fusion. Frankenstein Goes To The Disco is a drum solo piece, featuring Cobham with some nice drum synth triggers (far more advanced than Carl Palmer's just a few short years earlier).

Johnson plays a nice, but not mind blowing solo on the Chick Corea-like Sweet Wine. And the album closes appropriately with Juicy, where each band member in turn gets to shine.

Not an essential fusion album, but not a bad addition. Only one sub-par track.

Report this review (#298024)
Posted Wednesday, September 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For some reasons, I have been playing a lot of music from the cassette media - the format that I used to collect music in the seventies - ranging from straight rock music like Gary Moore, Saracen, and The Concerts for The People of Kampuchea (Paul Mc Cartney's idea), jazz-rock, progrock and finally I got this album by Billy Cobham - George Duke Band. I was amazed with the fact that I purchased this cassette tape in 1977 but the sound quality is still top notch by the time I played it last night. Secondly, I was amazed with the music which actually is not bad at all and in fact I did enjoy it very much. Billy Cobham drumming style has been consistent since I knew him the first time with "Spectrum" album because Tomy Bolin of Deep Purple fame played in the album, especially the wonderfully crafted "Stratus".

Of course I had listened to the cassette in the 1977 but it was not in my top list because I'd rather play the tapes of Yes or Genesis at that time. And I thought last night that it's gonna be more fusion type of thing. But I was stunned, in fact, by the guitar playing of John Scofield. Wow man ....!!! It's really a great musical adventure featuring Cobham unique style and powerful keyboard work by Duke - accentuated beautifully by Scofield guitar work. There is dynamic bass guitar work as well as solo that sounds like a walking bass by Alphonso Johnson. In fact, I thought it was Stanley Clarke who played the bass. The opening track "Hip pockets" demonstrates how fusion kind of music is composed nicely by these two gentlemen. The other track "Almustafa The Beloved" is quite interesting to enjoy. Of course I like "Do What Cha Wanna" because it has bluesy style performed in vintage style as well. "Frankenstein Goes To The Disco" demonstrates the excellent drum solo work by Cobham.

Overall, this is a very good jazz-rock music with intense progressive music content as well. Recommended.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#422110)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A mixed back of first-class fusion music, mediocre fun attempts with vocals and keyboards to funky songs - this record showcases all musical career stages in the 70's. The best tracks are instrumental ones and longer ones. Guitar playing is tasty and subdued, keyboards are versatile and omnipresent, the drums are dynamic and the bass is a decent complement. One track is features Cobham on electronic drums. I had acquired the CD long time ago but still find it pleasant due to its quirks and interesting line-up. It's a pity that the album clocks at only 46 minutes - normal concerts are much longer. Recommended to all 70's fusion fans as this is one of the better efforts.
Report this review (#2166056)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2019 | Review Permalink

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