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Billy Cobham - Spectrum CD (album) cover


Billy Cobham


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.27 | 600 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Arguably the finest drummer to grace the 1970's rock sphere, fusion exponent Billy Cobham has truly enjoyed a lengthy and highly-successful career. As well as having played with some of the very finest in the business - the likes of Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Herbie Hancock come to mind - Cobham has also managed to produce two of the era's key fusion albums in the shape of this dynamic debut release and the atmospheric 1974 follow-up 'Crosswinds', albums that helped define a movement despite the fact that they both appeared several years after the genre's major trailblazer 'Bitches Brew'(1969) had been issued. Alongside the likes of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever featuring Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, 'Spectrum' belongs to that unique set of 1970's fusion artists who were informed by the late- sixties experiments of Davis, Ted Macero and Tony Williams yet also took the genre one step further, integrating funk, psychedelia, Eastern raga modals and cosmic sound collages into a what would now simply be known as 'fusion'. Of these albums issued, 'Spectrum' seems the most indelible, as well as being one of the most revered, both by older listeners who were there during the 1970's and by a new, contemporary audience of fans, critics and artists who have used the album as an influential cultural reference point. With the British dance trio Massive Attack sampling the gloriously-funky bass-line of 'Stratus' for their seminal track 'Safe From Harm', 'Spectrum' is now an album that has transcended the decade of its creation. It's an album that features an intricate electric sound, filled with blistering guitar strikes, galloping bass bumps and skittering beats when fast; dipped in fuzzy synthesizers and wandering off via neon-flecked keyboard ambles into that wonderful mystical midnight ambience that only jazz can create during the musics calmer moments. Apart from the nine-minute stealth rock of 'Stratus', highlights - which are many - include the twittering sonic swirl of opening track 'Quadrant', and the dreamy, acid-lounge-licked multi-parter 'To The Women In My Life'. Both tracks segue both furiously and calmly - sometimes at the same time - through a rapid-fire journey of thrilling instrumental face-offs, the interchange between Cobham's quicksilver druming and the neon-dropped keyboards, throbbing bass-lines and stammering guitars of his ultra-talented backing players(a set which includes Mahavishnu keyboardist Jan Hammer and guitarist Tommy Bolin amongst others) proves thrilling throughout, showcasing not just Cobham's technical prowess but also his deft compositional abilities, a fact imbued by the make-up of the songwriting credits; Only Cobham's name appears. Considering the overall quality of 'Spectrum', its fair to say then that Cobham truly deserves his place in the pantheon of great modern jazz men. This is a high sophisticated and technically dazzling record, filled with memorable beats, hooks and solos and undoubtedly one of the 1970's very best. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
stefro | 5/5 |


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