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Colin Bass - An Outcast Of The Islands CD (album) cover


Colin Bass


Crossover Prog

3.84 | 60 ratings

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4 stars This is one of those "outcast" albums, flying below the radar for no apparent reason, a true gem of cascading delight , surely as good if not better than most Camel recordings (for those of you who do not know, Colin Bass played eminently for Steve Hillage before joining Camel back in the 70s). With Polish friends/musicians from Quidam and Abraxas, as well as the magnificent Andy Latimer on guitar and the equally adept Dave Stewart on drums, this is a rousingly positive effort replete with wonder melodies, inspired soloing and marvelous ensemble playing. The opening instrumental "Macassar" is a stunning intro, full of emotion and harmony, with the axe taking a few soaring journeys. One of the finer mood pieces "sans" vocal you will ever hear. "As Far as I Can See" shows Colin's sweet voice (many actually think that its way better than Andy's wispy delivery) in a simple surrounding, very breezy and English, cherried by a couple of bluesy guitar solos from chef Latimer, pointing proudly towards the horizon. Things are kept interesting with a brief string quartet interlude played by members of the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra, of which there will be another snippet later on.. "Goodbye to Albion" would perhaps fit well into the Camel repertoire, a very English disposition with whimsical singing, especially the wide chorus while Quidam's Jacek Zasada plays his flute and penny whistle with amusing élan. The treat here is Latimer's mandolin playing in the back ground and Bass's spirited farewell to friends in the mother country! (He spends a lot of time in Indonesia) "And I'll say goodbye to Albion, the green hills in the rain and I'll raise my glass to everyone I'll never see again". Nice. "Straights of Malacca" is another shimmering instrumental extravaganza, with Latimer raging with brash abandon, torturing his wobbly strings with composed tenacity. The guitar effects are spellbinding, heaving and howling like a banshee. Ever had doubts about his prowess, well here it is. On "Aissa" Bass showcases his tremendous fretless abilities, while e-bow guitar colorations add even more depth to the platform. "Denpasar Moon" is perhaps the highlight track here, a romping promenade with jangling rhythms undertone, a sensational vocal wrapped around an unpretentious melody front and center, Latimer displaying his amazing restraint in holding back the explosion that will inevitably never arrive, go figure, you cheeky fellow! "No Way Back" has Abraxas' Szymon Brzezinski taking over from the Camel front man on lead guitar and he acquits himself eloquently within a melancholic 6 minute arrangement that has all the ingredients for maximum enjoyment. Probably the most progressive track here, complete with another ravenous bass solo from Colin, perhaps the most underrated 4 stringer in prog and closing it out with some masterful symphonics. "Holding Out my Hand" leaves little respite, another victorious melody within a tight blues based envelope, a podium for a shimmering vocal très Pink Floyd and a chorus to expire for! Inspired ensemble playing as Meller, Florek and Blaszczyk supply massive doses of shine, a cool Hammond organ and synth blitz paired with an ultimate guitar burst from Mr. Latimer, all fervor and ardor in his own inimitable style . Stellar stuff! "Outcast" is another outright classically played orchestral piece from the PPO, where violins, violas and cellos find themselves bathing in luxuriant magnificence. The highly linear "Burning Bridges" starts of somewhat exuberantly but plods along much to my surprise, unable to ignite the flame. While a decent piece (great drumming), it has no bearing on the previous genius material, so I skip. "Reap What You Sow" is a colossal piece that has so many stellar moments: the low spark Traffic-like piano, the uncanny Bryan Ferry-like vocal lilt, the massed all-Polish female choir and Latimer's country/blues picking. The gentle acoustic finale "Trying to Get to You" puts this hour long joyride to rest. I can easily imagine myself listening to this on some tropical paradise island, the palms swaying to the pleasure sounds and instead of calypso/reggae, I would revel as an outcast of the islands. 4.5 Sandy sandals.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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