(All Album Reviews by daddysangbassdude)
This is an album with a tremendous amount of promise, combining one of the most talented drummers of the past 25 years or so in Terry Bozzio with one of the more dazzling bass players around today in Billy Sheehan. The biggest problem is, Bozzio does vocals – or at least tries to do vocals.
Both players also turn in some stylistic touches on keyboards and guitar that are quite radiant. There are echoes of the darkness of King Crimson, some Zappa-like complexity, and the world beat of The Police in here. In many cases, though, the great promise that is there in the instrumental portion is dragged down when Bozzio opens his mouth to part-sing, part-rap, part-grunt, part-pretend he’s a “beat” poet standing on a stage reciting his own lines with some dark-clad beatniks snapping their fingers in appreciation at the end of the prose.
Darkness is prevalent throughout this album, it’s not an uplifting work lyrically by any means. “Live By The Gun” lets you know where the mood will lead with its tale of a rough life on the streets, filled with bullets and drug dealing/taking.
Bozzio’s lyrics aren’t bad, there’s some moody art to the words. If you can appreciate roughly spoken words in place of singing, you’ll make it through just fine. For me, they’re a bit too overpowering in the mix. I’d rather hear the instrumentation going on behind the vocals, and I sometimes find myself wondering where a song like “Black Wisdom” – featuring some spectacular rhythms from bass and drums – would’ve gone if Bozzio had just left out his voice box.
He does give his tonsils a rest on “Finger Painting,” and the results are what one would expect from this duo, a solid instrumental with Sheehan weaving a wild bass line and Bozzio showing supreme muscle on percussion. King Crimson fans of all eras would love this one. After the Police-inspired “Last Page” (with brief and more restrained vocals), it closes with another instrumental in “Sub Continent” with a world beat vein.
Not a bad effort at all. But Terry should stick more to skins and cymbals.