Um­phrey’s mcGee ThE LON­dON SES­SION

Guitar Techniques - - MUSIC REVIEWS -

While in Lon­don for gigs in June 2014, Um­phrey’s McGee fan­cied record­ing in the leg­endary Abbey Road Stu­dios, but was it avail­able? Well yes it was, but for 12 hours only! Too good a chance to ig­nore, what could the band do? Best sug­ges­tion was a com­bi­na­tion of new and old stuff that was part of their live show, so that’s what was done. As they say, “When time is your en­emy, mus­cle mem­ory is your friend”. They were gig fit and tight so four tracks were laid down in a sin­gle take, while the oth­ers had vo­cals and over­dubs done later in the US. Each track took on a new lease of life that can only come from live play­ing. More re­cent al­bum re­leases like Cut The Ca­ble and No di­ablo were re­ar­ranged with acous­tic gui­tars. One very ap­pro­pri­ate track was in­cluded, a ver­sion of The Bea­tles’ I Want You (She’s So heavy), recorded in the very same stu­dio and a one-take won­der. Great per­for­mances from all, but ex­cel­lent gui­tar and vo­cals from Bren­dan Bayliss and Jake Cin­ninger. Pro­duc­tion is su­perb - well, it would be! ar­range­ments are as tight as the prover­bial duck’s rear end. Just check out Paper­cut if you’re in any doubt. The ti­tle track is a real tour de force and although the sheer pace of per­for­mance can be re­lent­less, things like Dis­tress Sig­nal and Luke help to ease the ten­sion. The su­perb bass solo by Bunny Brunel on Al­go­rhythms and the drum solo on Time & Space, with its 2001 open­ing, also help to pro­vide va­ri­ety. Re­ally this is for gui­tar play­ers only but it is a truly stunning al­bum and a real dec­la­ra­tion of tal­ent. ranks of Yes, so many fans have been keen to see what else Jon has been do­ing. He’s still an ac­tive mem­ber of the band but not in­volved with this lat­est al­bum - in­stead Carl Groves re­turns as vo­cal­ist, ably as­sisted by Susie Bog­danow­icz. Alan Shikoh is the gui­tarist and he’s been in res­i­dence since 2009. Led by mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ists Steve Babb and Fred Schen­del, this is Glass Ham­mer’s 17th stu­dio al­bum and it takes ad­van­tage of the cur­rent resur­gence of prog rock by in­tro­duc­ing ar­range­ments that go fur­ther than be­fore. The open­ing track Mythopoeia is a good start to an al­bum that’s full of melody, artistry and qual­ity writ­ing. There’s great gui­tar work from Shikoh on Baby­lon but whichever track you choose you will not be dis­ap­pointed with The Break­ing Of The World - check it out!

Noth­ing 2 Fancy Mu­sic

Andy Philip, who takes the writ­ing cred­its for the dreamy Pre­hen (Egg), the only fully orig­i­nal piece in­cluded here. Whinnett is a pas­sion­ate player but the con­tri­bu­tions from bassist Rob Levy and drum­mer Dave Bryant are equally im­por­tant. This is a well matched out­fit that gives us mod­ern jazz-rock in a va­ri­ety of tem­pos and moods, with plenty of im­pro­vi­sa­tion along the way. We par­tic­u­larly like Andy’s trip over the fret­board on Mother Goose and the ar­range­ment is prob­a­bly what Ravel had in mind when he wrote it. Re­fresh­ing and re­ward­ing, this is an al­bum worth seek­ing out and the per­fect choice for a bit of late night lis­ten­ing.

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