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(40:37, Transubstans Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Freedom at Last 6:09 2. Feeling Down 4:17 3. Hey Man 4:03 4. We Never Know 4:42 5. Tale of a Lonely Man 5:01 6. How Many Miles 3:56 7. Down in Mexico 4:54 8. Mr. Window 3:06 9. Dance into the Fire 4:29 LINEUP: Al Serra – vocals; guitar Dave Perilli – bass Robgasoline – drums
Prolusion. JOHNFISH SPARKLE is an Italian trio which was formed in March 2008. They hit the studio soon after forming, and issued their debut album in the fall of 2008 on the Swedish label Transubstans Records.
Analysis. When dealing with albums issued by Transubstans Records, it's no surprise to come across bands exploring retro-sounding rock – as acts exploring the sound of the ‘70s is something of a specialty for this label. One can never quite know what to expect though, as space rock acts and psychedelic outfits go hand in hand with more down to earth hard rock bands in their artist roster. The common denominator is that most of them explore vintage, ‘70s-sounding music. In this case we're dealing with a classic power trio. Blues-based hard rock is the name of the game, and references can be made to acts like Cream and Robin Trower. Followers of prog rock unfamiliar with the aforementioned acts might want to sample the debut album by Rush to get a slight notion of what this is about, although the Canadian trio even on their debut album were somewhat more advanced than Johnfish Sparkle. The compositions at hand are by and large bass-driven affairs, partially with melodic riffs as the central melody provider and partially with more staccato, energetic riff bursts served up by the guitar. In two instances a cleaner and mellower expression is served, on the southern rock-tinged excursion We Never Know and on the following ballad Tale of a Lonely Man. Easy-going drum patterns underscore, while the slightly Alex Harvey sounding vocalist Al Serra gets to dominate the proceedings a great deal, as the compositions first and foremost consist of vocal sections – there's not an abundance of instrumental sequences on the disc apart from the standard guitar soloing passages. For those who enjoy this type of music, the opening number Freedom At Last and its successor Feeling Down will probably both be deemed to be pretty intriguing. Not stellar creations any of them, but they are forceful and energetic numbers with a few more bells and whistles in terms of riff patterns and drive than the rest of this production. The rest of this disc is a gradually descending affair in terms of interest, going from more generic sounding ‘70s hard rock on Hey Man to pretty unimaginative pub rock on the final tracks of this excursion. The band is a pretty tight outfit though, so even when venturing in more derivative waters they are entertaining to listen to, but for me the general scope of this production is that it's a good album to play while driving and one not so good to listen to in total concentration.
Conclusion. The opening numbers are the most interesting creations on this disc, and these two tracks clearly show that we're dealing with a talented act. The rest of the album isn't nearly as entertaining though, but those who enjoy tight musicianship should find much of the material intriguing. There's not much on this production that will appeal to fans of progressive rock in any of its varieties though, but those with a firm fascination for ‘70s sounding blues based hard rock might find this album to be of interest.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 12, 2009
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