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SBB - Four Decades CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.27 | 11 ratings

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5 stars The title may suggest a retrospective, a documentary of sorts. The reality is that these are more recent performances where early material along with new tunes are on offer.

The band - as always - plays in many different styles, ranging from Symphonic, Jazz-Rock, Lyrical and even the odd Boogie! This however doesn't indicate a lack of direction, but on the contrary. Showcasing their versatile abilities, one is often treated to a surprise just around the corner.

They rose into prominence in the early '70s as a mainly improvising trio. By now that youthful enthusiasm had subsided somewhat, giving way to more laid back and at some point more structured pieces.

Skrzek's vocals (I previously enjoyed in small doses only) have become stronger and more confident by now. After many years, he still sings from the heart - if only better. His more up-to-date keyboards permit a greater sonic range whilst his trusted, old bass is also put to good use - extending to the odd solo using the distortion pedal!

By now, Skrzek has become the leader of the band with Apostolis generally taking a back seat, providing color on the guitar and the odd solo in his unique and unimitable style. In recent years he also started to play the drums and keyboards, something is more of a novelty than a challenge to the rest. Still, nice to see that he is expanding his horizons and refusing to grow old and stale.

Since their original drummer, Jerzy Piotrowski left, SBB hasn't been able to find a replacement who could become an integral part of the band. Paul Wertico (of Pat Metheny Group) played with them for years, Brilliant drummer, but the reality is that he only lasted a few years with the band.

Enter Gabor Nemeth, a well-seasoned veteran of the Hungarian Rock scene. His drumming is tight, precise to the point of extreme skill and techniques. He could play practically anything and everything on the skins, but his presence is more of a session player, a hired hand, than a devotee of SBB's music.

Still, the performance is great and typical of the band, where even well known old tracks are completely reworked almost beyond recognition. Amazingly, this trio format can create a commendable wall of sound, even when only the keyboards and two(!) drums are in use. But that is SBB for you!

A gripe. The multiple camera work is pretty good, but the actual editing is rather irritating. The view nervously jumping from one musician to another and often focusing on the less prominent contributions in a piece. Even then, leaving little opportunity to observe before jumping on again. Still, it's not the band's fault and I won't hold it against them.

If you want to see vintage performances from the '70s, you may find some on YouTube. In the meantime, these two concerts (with different support musicians in 2006) will give you a good idea of the works of Skrzek and Apostolis.

BORA | 5/5 |


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