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Michael Quatro - In Collaboration With The Gods CD (album) cover

IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GODS

Michael Quatro

 

Crossover Prog

3.41 | 19 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I remember Michael Quatro's fifteen minutes of fame in the mid-seventies when his label leveraged his younger sister Suzi Quatro's name in promoting the rather weak 'Dancers, Romancers, Dreamers & Schemers'. 'In Collaboration with the Gods' is an earlier album, and is both more artistic and more interesting than that one.

Suzi Quatro of course was best known in the United States as the Joan Jett-like sneering rocker-chick Leather Tuscadero in the hit seventies sitcom Happy Days. She would go on to a lengthy music career and was successful pretty much everywhere except at home. Michael never achieved the same level of fame anywhere, but he continues to make music today although he doesn't tour as far as I know and rarely releases singles (there are only two in his entire discography).

I never quite know how to approach this sort of music, which is basically classically- inspired keyboard and synthesized rock with complex arrangements and sophisticated (for the period) studio techniques. There were quite a few American bands doing this sort of stuff at the time, including the Load, Quill, Covenant, Atlantis Philharmonic, Carnegie and others. In most of these cases I have this mental stereotype of big city, first generation immigrant kids raised in the discipline of classical music by stern fathers who worked by day and played violin and night, and by mothers who shared their repertoires of gorgeous vocal pieces with her children around the family piano on cold winter evenings. Despite the family's attempts to instill some culture the kids discover the Beatles anyway and leverage their musical knowledge to try and become the next Jeff Lynne.

I have no idea if this is an accurate description in Quatro's case, but it amuses me to think so.

The list of accompanying musicians is impressive in any case, including Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (aka "Flo & Eddie") of the Turtles and Zappa's Mothers of Invention; guitar whiz kid Rick Derringer (by then in his late twenties); and Dave Kiswiney who was a musical child prodigy of sorts in his own right but plays mostly bass on this record. Quatro plays all manner of keyboards and several other uncredited instruments as well as providing vocals, although much of the record consists of the nearly twenty-minute instrumental title track.

Speaking of the opening number, 'In Collaboration with the Gods' is a ranging keyboard heavy number that combines several well known classical pieces including "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" with a bit of ragtime piano and rock rhythms in a technically impressive delivery of what just about anyone would expect classically-inspired rock to sound like. "Get Away" carries on with a similar theme but with more emphasis on the 'rock' part of the equation as well as the first vocals on the album.

To continue on the theme, Quatro delivers the rousing Rachmaninoff-inspired number "Rockmanninoff's Prelude in C Blunt Funk" complete with scorching guitar licks, almost- metal percussion and plenty of piano and synth. "Ave Maria Rock" is again more of the same but a bit more subdued, while "Prelude in Ab Crazy II" extends the classical theme with more emphasis on guitar.

For reasons that are probably lost to time Quatro throws in a bluesy rocker to close the album. "Sweet Lovin'" sounds like a cover but if it is I can't quite place it. The sound is all organ, percussion and driving guitar power chords and is a radical departure from anything else on the album. It does portend to a certain extent some of the sort of music Quatro would create on subsequent albums though.

Musically this record is very firmly rooted in the seventies; a bit pompous, brash, and imbued with all kinds of musical ideas but at times somewhat self-indulgent. The musicianship and enthusiasm are real and solid though, so overall I'd say this is a pretty good album but not quite great. Three out of five stars and mildly recommended to nostalgia types.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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