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Nucleus - Alleycat CD (album) cover

ALLEYCAT

Nucleus

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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4 stars Definitely one of Nucleus' lesser known albums, Alley Cat nonetheless maintains the exceptionally high standards that Ian Carr & Nucleus had set for themselves over the course of numerous albums before this one. It's true that there's little here which is a departure from any of their previous releases, but with a quality of of both songwriting and playing this high, who could blame them? Once again we have fast, intricate, melodic jazz-rock fusion, with moments of high energy interspersed with slow and thoughtful sections, and the continual build-release adding to the overall dynamics. There is some experimentation involved though, with the then-still-novel tinkering with electronics on the first track, but after that it's straight-ahead fusion all the way. All Nucleus lovers should try to get hold of this one, and fans of Soft Machine's mid-period albums will probably also love this, as will anyone who enjoys the likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis' 'In a Silent Way', Jean-Luc Ponty etc. There are no 'half marks' here of course but if there were I'd give this 4.5 but it isn't quite a 5/5 album so 4 hits the mark.
Report this review (#202625)
Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This was released the same year (1975) as "Snakehips Etcetera" and we have the same six piece lineup.Trevor Tomkins does add percussion on 3 of the 5 tracks. Steve Lillywhite engineered this record which was their last on the Vertigo label.These guys were playing live constantly back then and they seemed to be getting progressively louder, so much so that the drummer (Roger Sellers) moved his drum-set back further from the band and away from the stacks of speakers.There's so much energy on this album that it really comes across like a live recording.

"Phaideaux Corner" is a funk flavoured track that simply grooves. It's uptempo with percussion and horns standing out early. Electric piano from Geoff Castle takes the lead 5 minutes in then back to the horns late to end it. "Alley Cat" is more laid back with piano, horns, bass and a beat leading the way. It picks up some after 2 minutes but not for long as it settles right down with guitar and other sparse sounds. It's building after 4 minutes with trumpet, bass, drums and piano.This is so good. It settles again 8 1/2 minutes in then kicks back in at 9 minutes. Some excellent guitar before 11 1/2 minutes to the end. Nice.

"Splat" sounds like an OZRIC's song title. Drums, piano and bass lead early as the horns join in.The rhythm stops before 1 1/2 minutes then kicks back in after 2 minutes. Killer stuff. Check out the keyboards 4 minutes in. A spacey calm arrives around 5 minutes then it kicks back in with horns and keyboards. Again this is so good as they rip it up. It settles again before 9 minutes then it kicks back in a minute later. "You Can't Be Sure" is a cool sounding tune with bass, guitar and trumpet interplay throughout. "Nosegay" is a great sounding uptempo track.The trumpet leads then it's the electric piano leading before 3 minutes. Check out the drumming after 4 minutes.

Ian Carr does it again ! I like the sax and trumpet on here as usual and the bass is upfront. I must admit i'm a fanboy of this band but for me "Alley Cat" is a definite 4 stars.

Report this review (#457935)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Nucleus must have been one of the most productive jazz-rock units of the 70s, we're looking at album 10 in 7 years here and unfortunately it shows. The furtile interaction of jazz talent as we had known it in their early years is gone entirely, replaced by a one-man routine job though funky easy listening jazz-rock.

That doesn't mean it's bad, it just seems so predictable and it lacks some really memorable tunes and melodies that earlier Nucleus always had plenty off. Even a longer compositions like 'Alley Cat' rarely go beyond run-of-the-mill jazz-funk. On the plus side, Nucleus didn't fall for the more commercial smooth sound that prevailed in fusion in the second half of the 70's. It may be much more polished then their first two albums but it still sounds organic and natural. Synths are avoided and the drums aren't over-processed. 'Splat' is my favorite track here due to the psychedelic Rhodes playing and the successful groove they develop in the second half. The bluesy 'You can't be sure' is the only track on this album where they dare to leave the beaten funk-fusion track.

Enjoyable late 70's fusion but too safe and routine to hit me. 2.5 stars.

Report this review (#527354)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Review Permalink

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