Umphrey’s mcGee ThE LONdON SESSION
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.