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Ian Gillan Band - Clear Air Turbulence CD (album) cover

CLEAR AIR TURBULENCE

Ian Gillan Band

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.81 | 67 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Boldly going.

A year after the release of the Ian Gillan band's debut "Child in time", they returned with this follow up. If the first album had come as something of a surprise to those who expected Gillan to continue the heavy rock of Deep Purple, "Clear air turbulence" proved to be an even greater head-turner. While there was a minor change to the line up, it remained substantially intact in terms of the main protagonists. The first hint of the changes to expect here are hidden away in the guest musicians list, which includes a five piece brass section.

From the start, it become clear that Gillan has decided to take the band in a rather different direction to the rather prosaic fare of their debut. The title track has a distinctly funky feel to it, indeed at times it could be mistaken for a Stevie Wonder number. The arrangement is ambitious with distinctly jazz overtones, even in the lead guitar work of Ray Fenwick. The track will find Deep Purple fans checking the sleeve to make sure the correct album has been enclosed, such is the departure from Gillan's roots in that band. Indeed compared to this, even the Coverdale/Hughes ventures seem orthodox and tame.

I have at this stage to say that while I can only sit back and admire Gillan and the rest of the band for their bold step away from what was undoubtedly expected of them, overall this is not the sort of music I listen to by choice.

The slightly distorted vocals which introduce "Five moons" are reminiscent of the works of the Beatles. This slow, brooding song has something of an American feel to it, with hints of CSN or The Band. Phil Kensie adds a fine tenor sax solo to the latter part of the track.

"Money lender" does indeed take us into the territory of Deep Purple's "Stormbringer", this rather straightforward funky number featuring strong brass supporting a muddled arrangement. The song is not really my cup of tea at all, and of little interest in prog terms.

The second side of the album also has three tracks the longest of which is the 7 minute "Over the hill". Gillan's performance here is reminiscent of the later tracks on Deep Purple's "Fireball" album (such as "Fools"). Instrumentally, the track remains rather funky but there is a stronger rock element this time. "Goodhand Liza" is a muddled mid-paced number which sounds decidedly un-Gillan like. The album closes with the oddly named "Angel Manchehio", a song which tells a bizarre tale involving a gypsy. Musically, the track follows in much the same vein as its predecessor.

While I readily acknowledge the admirable bravery shown by Gillan and friends when it comes to "Clear air turbulence", I am afraid the album leaves me cold. There is no doubting the proficiency of the musicianship, the quality of the production, and the all round talent which has gone into the project. This is simply a case though when the resultant product simply is not to my taste. This may be due to the fact that rather than exploiting the strengths of the principal genres the album simply falls somewhere between them. I must admit though that the over jazz and funk influences are the most likely reason for my disappointment.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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