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Tony Levin - Resonator CD (album) cover


Tony Levin

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars The newest album by Tony Levin and his friends can't be put into a specific genre. The whole album is so very different from the start to the end that I sometimes ask myself if this is the same album when I'm halfway through it. However, this doesn't feel awkward at all for it is fluid and well played.

Break it Down : The album kicks off with Break it Down, a rocking track with a catchy bass-line. I'd say this track is great opener but the middle section drags a little bit too long im my opinion. Still a great opener.

Places to go : The bass work (which is a really long and complicated bass-line from Levin) is incredible in this song. Otherwise, it is a standard bluesy track with a cool chorus.

Throw the God a bone : I'd say this is one of the tracks I enjoy the less as a whole on the album but, as a great fan of Adrian Belew, I do really enjoy his playing and soloing in the song (he's invited as a guest for this track on the album). We recognize the traditionnal Belew sound. This track rocks a lot.

Utopia : Tony Levin described that as his most beautiful composition ever. I don't know about that but it sure is a beautiful song. There's good emotionnal guitar solo in the middle part. I'm not fond of ballads but the lyrics are beautiful.

Beyond my reach : Here's another good ballad. That song is good but I think following Utopia with another ballad breaks the rythm in the album. After this song, though, the the real prog part of the album begins.

Shadowland : This instrumental is all about creating atmosphere and it's really well-done. The electric cello adds a lot of depth to the sound. The whole thing sounds really powerful. Jerry Marotta's drum work is crashing in this one.

Crisis of faith : This song is one of the most enjoyable of the album. The vocal harmonies really remind me of Gentle Giant's songs such as On Reflection. Add a killing and very original bass and drum rythm in the back and you've got a pretty weird number there. This track is short but it's one of my favorite.

What would Jimi do? : This song is a tribute to Hendrix so you can see the picture. The guitar playing is very Hendrix-esque and the whole track is rocking and groovy.

Sabre Dance : I really like the rendition they did of the classical sabre dance. This instrumental sounds really metal in some parts. The Chapman stick is really powerful and drives the song while the two keyboards play the well-known melody. Probably my favorite track on the album.

Fragile as a song : This beautiful love ballad is about... a monkey. I could never have guessed it if I haven't heard Tony Levin exlain that on stage. This song may sound cheesy but it's good.

Overall, this album is pretty good. Of course, it is often bass-driven but in some parts, I do feel that the bass is not loud enough (although all the instruments are good). The weirdest thing about the album is Tony Levin's vocals. I like them but it's not your usual powerful singer. I give this album a 4 star rating. Keep on rockin' Tony.


Report this review (#80139)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Tony Levin pushed this solo album further.. this time he even sings! The vocals are good, but they still sound a bit strange to me. The music is pretty much in the vein of the past two albums.

"Break It Down": a classic Crimson-type song - 8/10

"Places To Go": a jazzy song with Tony's bass in front - 7/10

"Throw The God A Bone": a classic rocker - very funny song with lyrics about Tony's dog ( which even barks on the song) - 8/10

"Utopia": a shorter version of the Waters Of Eden instrumental with lyrics - this becomes a beautiful ballad with a new guitar line - 10/10

"Beyond My Reach": another ballad, but this time more jazz oriented than rock - gentle vocals, nice piano and keyboards - 10/10

"Shadowland": one of the two instrumentals on this album, written by the whole band, it shows how well all these guys can play together - very much in the vein of Waters Of Eden - 10/10

"Crisis Of Faith": one only track I tend to skip completely while listening to the album - sounds like a bad joke taken from old cartoons - completely silly - 1/10

"What Would Jimi Do?": self-explanatory, a guitar-driven rocker - 8/10

"Sabre Dance": the reprise of a classical instrumental - very well executed - 10/10

"Fragile As A Song": nice ballad to close the album - mainly piano + voice - 10/10

Rating: 82/100 (4 stars)

Report this review (#83319)
Posted Monday, July 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tony Levin is easily one of the very best, most recognizable and sought-after bassists working today, and perhaps my overall favourite in the world of progressive rock. His recording and stage resume includes stellar work for Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment, Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe, Steve Hackett, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Paul Simon and a host of others much too long to list here. Whether masterfully wielding his Chapman Stick, standing tall behind the upright, or using the percussive "funk fingers" extensions (which he invented) on a regular electric, Levin always stands out in the mix, providing a rock-solid foundation, while yet bringing his distinctive floor-shaking sounds to the fore.

In addition to his extensive work with other respected musicians, Tony Levin has also released a few solo albums over the years. 2006's RESONATOR is the first I have heard, and it provides a very strong inducement for me to check out more of his albums. Yes, RESONATOR is a fine disc: by turns 80s Crimson-like "pop prog," jazz fusion, and pure prog, this diverse, ever-engaging effort will certainly not disappoint his numerous fans. This is also the first of Levin's recordings where he takes on the lead vocal duties, and I'm pleased to report that though he may not win any "best singer" polls, "Uncle Tony" has a very likeable and workmanlike singing voice: he does a fine job, and sounds like the nice, charismatic guy he always comes across as on stage, in interviews and in print.

Each of the ten tracks is worthwhile, but my especial favourites include "Places to Go," which takes us from Mars, to Levin's Boston hometown, to heaven via some humourous yet deep lyrics. "Throw the God a Bone" is a frantic rave-up that features Crimson band mate Adrian Belew, and Tony's dog Lilly. 100% fun! "Utopia" is thoughtful, majestic and moving in its yearning, and the instrumental "Shadowland" is five minutes of sometimes soaring, sometimes menacing pure prog bliss. "Crisis of Faith," in Levin's own words, is "the wild piece of the album," and downright scary with its wall-razing bass, twelve "somewhat atonal' voices, and some powerful drumming from Jerry Marotta. "What Would Jimi Do" features a fittingly wicked guitar solo from Jesse Gress (Todd Rundgren) and some terrific Hammond from brother Pete Levin. "Sabre Dance" is Levin's rocking, almost metallic take on the old Khachaturian classic, while "Fragile As a Song" is a tender piano, bass and voice ballad about connections, which brings the album to a beautiful close.

RESONATOR is a great CD, and heartily recommended to all Levin fans -- and I would assume that means all of us! Four enthusiastic stars!

Report this review (#84169)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars So, Tony Levin decides to do a vocal solo album and, surprise, the vocalist is Tony. I have to say there's something a little disturbing about his vocals. I guess maybe I was expecting a deeper voice. Well, at least he doesn't sing falsetto or something, that would really be freaky. Tony is a competent vocalist, though stylistically, when it comes to bassist/vocalists, John Wetton doesn't have to worry about the competition, if you know what I mean.

One of the highlights is Throw the God a Bone. Not really prog, just a fun song. Utopia is a track from an earlier album with vocals added. Shadowland is a nice prog instrumental. Crisis of Faith sounds a little Queen like. Sabre Dance, a cover of a classical piece by Kachaturian, is another favorite.

A somewhat uneven album but after the fairly consistent and mellow Waters of Eden, the more experimental Pieces of the Sun, Tony is stretching out even further with Resonator. I'll give it four on the round up.

Report this review (#157710)
Posted Saturday, January 5, 2008 | Review Permalink

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