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Nucleus - Ian Carr: Belladonna CD (album) cover

IAN CARR: BELLADONNA

Nucleus

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.83 | 49 ratings

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Philo
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Belladonna came out as an Ian Carr album as after the previous Nucleus album chief composer, at least where the first two albums were concerned, Karl Jenkins along with drummer John Marshall had left to join Soft Machine. Guitarist Chris Spedding left along with bassist Jeff Clyne who also fucked off. After three albums Nucleus were making little money which only added to the frustrations of the band members, but in my opinion the unit had reached a peak and it was time for a change, or changes. The first three albums are hard to separate and something had to give at this point. Adding to the ranks though would be Alan Holdsworth, a guitarist with with a huge talent by all accounts as well as one who would also join Soft Machine later on, along with Nucleus bassist Roy Babbington who was still here at this point. Despite the huge change in personnel Belladonna is at this stage the most refreshing album Carr released, Nucleus or otherwise. Here, Carr looks to have more room to work within and to improvise, and Brian Smith adds a sweeter shade with his saxophone, just check out the late night moody turn of "Summer Rain" as he and Carr produce some memorable lines while the cool Fender Rhodes solo in the track punctuates the melancholic tone of the tune. The frantic "Hectors House" is where they both Carr and Smith excel while Holdsworth produces one of his more memorable solos. Much of the mood of the album can attributed to Jon Hiseman, the Colosseum drummer, who produced the album and overall there is a more decidedly jazzier tone that the previous albums where the action was rooted in rock rhythms. The beauty of Holdsworth's work on the album is the fact he plays in a minimal fashion, never overdoing it or going into guitar wank territory which he has been known for, though on "Ramadione" he does get a chance to flex his strength, but it is the exception to the rule of the Belladonna album. It would not have matched or even just added to the presence of the horns here, but Holdsworth drops in a few notes when it is needed and never becomes that obtrusive for the most part. Belladonna is often cited as Ian Carr's finest work, and I would agree with that to a certain degree. The music is dreamlike and floating which always suits his trumpet playing and his music direction, but the band also get down and dirty with the streetwise ragged funk of "Mayday" being one such venture. Belladonna more than anything else is a great piece of British jazz rock, but this time the band, albeit a new band, were firmly in a jazz state of mind but smoothly defining a fusion sound here and there.
Philo | 4/5 |

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