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Jean-Luc Ponty

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Jean-Luc Ponty Civilized Evil album cover
3.63 | 71 ratings | 7 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Demagomania (6:25)
2. In Case We Survive (4:06)
3. Forms Of Life (4:48)
4. Peace Crusaders (5:38)
5. Happy Robots (4:14)
6. Shape Up Your Mind (5:15)
7. Good Guys, Bad Guys (4:41)
8. Once A Blue Planet (4:02)

Total Time 39:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean-Luc Ponty / violin, keyboards & synth bass (3), orchestrations & producer

- Joaquin Lievano / guitar
- Daryl Stuermer / guitar solo (5,7)
- Chris Rhyne / keyboards
- Randy "The Emperor" Jackson / bass
- Mark Craney / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Daved Levitan with Claudia Ponty (concept)

LP Atlantic ‎- SD 16020 (1980, US)

CD Atlantic ‎- 16020-2 (1984, US)

Thanks to ivan_2068 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JEAN-LUC PONTY Civilized Evil ratings distribution

(71 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JEAN-LUC PONTY Civilized Evil reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Civilized Evil.....what a GOOD album. I have to admit already being a great fan of Steve Hillage at the time and whilst the artists vary considerably there is that edge of ' space' and ' fusion' to both artists whether on electric violin or guitar. Also around this time were equally good ECM artists like Ralp Towner and Jan Garbarek.

Civilized Evil is a well balanced combination of sounds that definitely provide the jazz fusion ingredients but has that overall progressive feel to it. Instrumental in it's entirety I have to highlight the following tracks for anyone wanting to get an initiation to this album.' Forms Of Life',the poignant ' Peace Crusaders' , a very melancholic nostalgic mood shifting song and last but not least ' Once a Blue Planet' makes for a great finale. It is a strong piece of work and is highly recommended to any progressive enthusiasts that have not heard Jean- Luc Ponty.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not my favourite album from this talented jazz violin player but it is an excellent purchase for progressive jazz lovers. Globally the sound is more into the 80's with a bunch of old fashioned synthesised sounds. The technical aspect of Ponty's music is always well represented in long instrumental interludes dominated by rapid scales, fine rhythmical sections. Songs as "happy robots" and "demagomania" are really not my cup of tea; a kind of funky jazz trip which sounds terribly old dated for my ears. Hopefully this album contains a few captivating, exciting compositions as the grandiose and epic "in case we survive", the "cosmic" adventure suggested "once a blue planet". In this album, you can't really find "retro" jazz fusion compositions because Ponty clearly put the stress on new technology's capacities and opportunities of the time; that's the reason why this album sounds a little bit soft and anachronic today. However it's an interesting effort and a memorable listening if you get in touch with Ponty's mid period.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record contains urban fusion with outstanding electric violin and modern keyboards. Ponty hired some of his previous staff members here: Mark Craney on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitars; surprisingly, the sound is quite more modern, and this is mainly due to the modern urban keyboards played by Chris Rhyne. "Civilized Evil" has some tracks that sound like "Taste for passion", with a loud, present & complex bass and the particularly modern keyboards. It also contains new explorations, without the drums and bass, rather leaving all the room for the keyboards and the violin. We feel Ponty here is in a transition period and he needed to vary his style, at least to modernize it. He plays a bit less the violins and more the keyboards, so that the keyboards ambiences and melodies become quite interesting. Sometimes, even a synthesizer bass contributes to really modernize the overall sound.
Review by kenethlevine
3 stars As much as I deplore the backlash against "self indulgence" imposed by punk and perpetuated by the new wave, it did give the opportunity for some of the more adaptable virtuosos to streamline their sound without sacrificing inventiveness. This was the case with JEAN LUC PONTY at least here on "Civilized Evil". The pieces remain showcases for his violin and accompanists but they are far more tightly composed and played.

The improvement is notable from the get go, with "Demagomania" being a slice of fun-loving funk, and "Forms of Life" a contrasting exercise blending new age sensibilities. Even better are the trio that close the disk, as listenable a sequence as assembled by Ponty to that point, particularly the playful themes of "Good Guys Bad Guys" in which the fiddles and keys dance about each other hypnotically, and the meditative closer "Once a Blue Planet". These help to offset the occasional oversteps like "In Case we Survive" and "Happy Robots". Less reliance on the violin allows Ponty's work on other instruments and his assistants to contribute to a more organic and symbiotic sound. The shrillness of earlier releases is held more in check.

So here we have another artist who seemed rejuvenated by the 80s. While I'm still not a big fan, I have to give Ponty credit for largely steering clear of the evils of the day with his civil bow.

Review by Matti
4 stars I have heard quite a many albums by Jean-Luc Ponty (they all happen to be from the timeline 1978 - 1989), but have never before reviewed one. This is one of the five albums in the "Original Album Series Vol. 2" that I borrowed from library recently. As you may know, this French violinist-keyboardist-composer had played in Frank Zappa's band and in Mahavishnu Orchestra. A couple of years ago he made a collaborative album with Jon Anderson. He can be counted among the legendary musicians in the Fusion genre.

Ponty had at this point released so many strong albums that it's no wonder the All Music Guide reviewer writes "what was once fresh and musical has ossified into formula". It is true that many albums do sound quite similar in the end, but at least for me Civilized Evil turned out to be more enjoyable than some others. Easily more interesting than the previous studio album, more acoustically oriented A Taste for Passion (1979). Here the spacey and electronic elements -- comparable to Steve Hillage as Chris S points out -- blend very nicely with the jazz fusion virtuosity.

'Demagomania' has a funky groove and some fine synth soloing to save it from being mildly boring. 'In Case We Survive' has at first, and in the end, just electric piano/synths that sound very fresh, and conventional ensemble playing in between. 'Forms of Life' approaches New Age in some sense, without being that serene; the hypnotic violin work and the synth layers work brilliantly together. The A side of vinyl ends with good-spirited 'Peace Crusaders' which features Daryl Stuermer's guitar solo.

The latter half is a bit more uneven. The funk in 'Happy Robots' and 'Good Guys, Bad Guys' leaves me quite cold. The album as a whole feels vivant and... well, fresh! 'Once a Blue Planet' is a beautiful, moody ending. I'd place the album among the most recommendable ones for those Fusion listeners who enjoy also artists such as Steve Hillage or Ashra, even if it may not contain Ponty's finest achievements ever. 3 stars rounded up for the intriguing cover art.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Quite a departure fromt the intensity and risk taking of previous works. I think there is no that much effort behind this album but it came lightly as Ponty and the band were still at the peak of their powers though getting to a safer region. Some tunes are memorable because of their melody and e ... (read more)

Report this review (#2352547) | Posted by sgtpepper | Sunday, April 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I was living in NYC when this record came out in 1980, the year that I graduated from HS, and it stuck with me all the way through college. This record brings back some of the fondest memories of my college days. I finally gave it a rest during the 1990s, after wearing out my vinyl copy. I've rec ... (read more)

Report this review (#251900) | Posted by wbiphoto | Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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