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Michael Mantler - Live CD (album) cover


Michael Mantler

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars I expected this album to be much better than it actually is. Just look at the lineup. Jack Bruce, Rick Fenn, Don Preston, John Greaves and Nick Mason should have made this into a powerhouse of an album. But there are two huge problems. First, the sound quality. By the late nineteen eighties, ECM, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, was a pretty respectable label. That they released a live recording of one of their artists that sounds like it was taped from the back of the hall is astounding. Yet they did that here. You can hear all of the instruments, but the sound is muddy and hollow.

The second problem is Mantler's meandering compositions. Primarily they seem to be mostly improvised loosely around Jack Bruce's singing of poetry and stories by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Edward Gorey. It appears that the band doesn't develop any cohesion until more than halfway through the record. It's not until Slow Orchestra Piece #6 that they develop any interesting ideas. However, once they reach that point, the band ignites, and builds to a fiery finish on The Doubtful Guest.

So, a third of the album has good music, the sound quality is, at best fair.

I can only give it two stars.

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Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Review Permalink

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