Sunday, February 28, 2010

No career 4 Dada

Group 87's 2nd album, A CAREER IN DADA PROCESSING (1984), isn't the lost treasure of the ages I was hoping 4, but it IS pleasant instrumental lite-jazz-rock background music, & it's growing on me after a coupla plays.
The problem is I never hadta wait 4 their marvelous 1st album (1980) 2 grow on me -- I was hooked B4 the Nd of the 1st track.
DADA apparently took 4ever 2 get recorded. Along the way, G87's drummer Terry Bozzio (4merly of U.K. & Frank Zappa's backing band) & bassist Patrick O'Hearn left 2 4m Missing Persons, & I guess keyboardist Peter Wolf was off writing songs w/ & producing Jefferson Starship & Heart. Producer/engineer Ed E. Thacker was apparently unavailable -- or G87 lost him when they left Columbia Records, which released the 1st album. DADA came out on Capitol.
This left trumpeter/keybsman Mark Isham & guitarist Peter Maunu, who were the heart of the group & wrote the best tunes on the earlier album. They drafted-in drummer Peter Van-Hooke & kept going. When this all happened isn't clear: O'Hearn got a songwriting credit on DADA's title track & is noted 4 "further contributions" along w/ 4mer Blood, Sweat and Tears drummer Bobby Colomby.
I've never missed a bassist B4, but DADA could use more bass. & replacing the flashy & splashy Bozzio must've bn tough -- like replacing Bill Bruford or Neal Peart: do-able, but.... Van-Hooke does fine here, but 1 thing he DOESN'T do is call attn 2 himself.
MayB all these changes R why DADA sounds kinda sad, downbeat, almost Dpressed. There isn't a single tune on it w/ the anthemic life-affirming power of the 1st album's "One Night Away From Day" or "Future of the City." There isn't even NEthing as hypnotic as "The Bedouin" or "Moving Sidewalks."
But in its own modest low-key way, DADA is Njoyable -- if U don't Xpect NE fireworks. I was hoping 4 some more, so I'm a little disappointed.
"The Mask Maker," the title tune & "Angels and Obelisks" sound the most like the 1st album -- tunes in which a repeating, slightly mutating pulse, rhythm or musical phrase is played over&over & then Isham's trumpet or Maunu's gtr R showcased on top of it. At its best this can make 4 some nice, haunting instrumental work, as it did in places on the 1st album, especially on trax like "Bedouin" & "While the City Sleeps."
But there this approach was a sorta backup 2 the drama, fireworks & impressive solos. Here the moody, haunting stuff is the best stuff there is. & if it don't grab ya....
Don't get me wrong. There's some nice tunes & textures here, & "The Apple Bites Back" is ... almost forceful. But the closing "Death of Captain Nemo" is a real downer, & there's definitely nothing here that'll jump outta the speakers & go 4 yer throat like parts of the 1st album did.
After this, Isham went on 2 do movie soundtracks & an occasional album, including the very-New-Age VAPOR DRAWINGS, which is all 4gettable keyboard-wash stuff w/ 1 standout called "On the Threshold of Liberty." I'm not sure where Maunu went, tho he wrote the best themes on the 1st album. G87 never recorded 2gether again. I'd imagine DADA sold even less than the 1st album. I'm sure '84 was an even-worse yr 4 an instrumental-rock mood-music album 2 get noticed than '80 was.
DADA may grow on me more, & if so I'll update WHY here. I'm sure I'll B playing it more, just 2 C if the haunting, gently flowing tunes lead NEwhere. But I wanted 2 B stunned again like I was w/ the 1st album (which I think is 1 of the top all-instrumental rock albums ever), & that ain't gonna happen.
I wouldn't recommend this 2 NE1 -- 2 quiet & moody & samey. But if U ever trip over a copy of that 1st album -- grab it!

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