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Kurt Rongey (USA) - 1991 - "Book In Hand"
(50 min, "Long Dark Music" - LDCD1)

*****

Tracklist:


1 Lines  4:05

2 Jungle  1:01

3 Black Wedge  6:39

4 Long, Dark Corridor  3:43

5 A Glance (Blue, Blue and Scarlet)  5:27

6 Dark  2:42

7 Slacking Back the Slapping

  Flattened Black Depth  3:28

8 Indefensive Emblem  6:46

9 Book in Hand  10:58

Production, engineering, compositions, performances, lyrics ang graphic design by Kurt Rongey except: "Indefensive Emblem" composed by David Gryder / Bill Pohl / Kurt Rongey / Ra Byn Taylor. Electric guitar on "Long, Dark Corridor" by Bill Pohl.

It seems like Keyboardist Kurt Rongey was at the head of the development of the union of Rongey & Pohl (please read the review of Bill Pohl's album here), the final fruit of which was a wonderful debut album of their (present) joint band called The Underground Railroad. I dare assume the independent "LDM" company was formed by Kurt (maybe, with the help of Bill) since his album was the first production of the label. And I would add here that Kurt and Bill work inseparably, perhaps, just after they became friends, and Bill's guitar sounds at least on one of the "Book In Hand" album's tracks. I think Bill and Kurt have decided at last to form a real band with both them at the head of not accidentally, but because they both, working on solo albums, have as a result music for a 'whole' band. So, it should be already clear that Kurt's "Book In Hand" doesn't sound like a traditional solo album when leader's playing has a total domination throughout, whereas other musicians work just as a background to endless solos of his. In this respect "Book In Hand" sometimes sounds even tighter than Bill Pohl's "Solid Earth" album, though Kurt's keyboards play a prominent part on his album too. As well as Bill on "Solid Earth", Kurt himself sings on his debut album too, though not too often. And while Kurt's singing is good and quite diverse, I find his style of playing the keyboards very special, original and tasteful, though there are not too many speedy keyboard solos on "Book In Hand". Anyhow, arrangements 'work' throughout the album - no matter if Kurt is singing at the moment or not. Well, there are too few of the 'bombastic' instrumental parts on the album, but it doesn't mean at all that arrangements are not interesting enough in themselves. They're just excellent from the first to the last note and you won't find such things as banality and boredom on the "Book In Hand" album. Of course, comparing this one to The Underground Railroad's debut album-masterpiece, I see a difference between these works (as well as in case of Bill Pohl's "Solid Earth"). But, all in all, I would say that "Book In Hand" is not just an excellent album, but an excellent solo album, which is in my view quite a significant achievement within our genre, at least.

VM. April 11, 2001


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