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Secret Oyster - Sea Son CD (album) cover

SEA SON

Secret Oyster

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.96 | 90 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars SECRET OYSTER emerged from one of Denmark's premiere jazz-fusion outfits called Burnin' Red Ivanhoe and found almost unanimous admiration from fans and critiques alike for its self-titled debut that has become known as "Furtive Peal." The band was signed to CBS Records right from the start and benefited from a well known record label promoting its efforts but the pressure was on to create a followup that would take things to the next level. The challenges of success only became more difficult after bassist Mats Vinding realized he didn't have time for what was supposed to be a part-time project that became too big for him to commit to. He jumped ship and was replaced by Jess Staehr who had played with Burnin' Red Ivanhoe.

Likewise original drummer Bo Thrige Andersen who originally played with Burnin' Red Ivanhoe was overwhelmed by a drug addiction and was let go due to the fact he wasn't able to live up to the standards that were required to take SECRET OYSTER to the next level. The choice of Ole Streenberg from the band Coronarias Dans was a gamble considering he was more versed in the world of jazz than rock but in the end proved to be the perfect choice and with these changes SECRET OYSTER would remain stable for their next albums until their untimely demise in 1977. While the trials and tribulations of band stability proved to be exhausting, the benefits of a major label promoting them proved to be quite beneficial.

For its second album SEA SON, the band was given free reign of unlimited studio time and an impressive lineup of session musicians who added extra instrumentation such as a string section on the opening track "Oysterjungle." The album also was given a stellar production which made SECRET OYSTER a true professional sounding band that enjoyed a healthy regional popularity and had even dipped into much of Denmark's European neighbors as well as a tour in the UK opening for Captain Beefheart. The result was that SEA SON was fine tuned into a jazz-fusion powerhouse with an emphasis on long bass-driven grooves with strange time signatures which allowed the various instruments to solo around. The drumming in particular offered a much heavier dose of percussive workouts and the album overall has a heavier sound as far as grooves, tempos and energetic delivery are concerned.

The album featured six tracks on the original vinyl along with three bonus tracks on the modern CD releases from the Laser's Edge and Long Hair labels. While afforded all the bells and whistles of a bigger budget and label support, from the musical side of the equation SEA SON is a lot more conservative than the loose wire "Furtive Pearl" which offered creative outbursts of energy in uncompromising ways. SEA SON on the other hand pretty much sticks to jamming sessions based on funkified bass grooves in the vein of fusion era Herbie Hancock only with more of a Mahavishnu Orchestra instrumentation that includes crazy Moog solos, jittery guitar riffs and solos as well as heavy bass and percussion although SECRET OYSTER wasn't quite up to Mr McLaughlin and company's compositional fortitude. Despite the straight forward jamming around a basic groove, the accoutrements of supplemental instrumentation do craft amazing contrapuntal effects.

All in all, SEA SON is an excellent slice of 70s jazz-fusion with tight instrumental interplay that may sound a bit stilted as it tends to be stuck in a one-trick-pony groove but offers enough supplemental effects to keep my interest for its entirety. Unfortunately what's missing on this sophomore album is the spontaneity and playfulness that the band unapologetically engaged in on the debut album. Whether one prefers SECRET OYSTER's debut over the rest of the canon or the other way around depends on if you are into a more polished delivery without too many surprises or something that takes you where you weren't expecting. Personally i prefer the more liberating experience of the debut but even though i find that to be superior it doesn't mean for a second that i don't find SEA SON to be a compelling set of arrangements that offers a more rock oriented approach in comparison to "Furtive Pearl."

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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