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Monday, March 2, 2009

Gamma - Gamma^2

Name: Gamma
Album: Gamma^2
Year: 1980
Style: Metal, Hard Rock
Similar Bands: Foreigner, Montrose, Van Halen, Angel City, Accept, Axe, Twisted Sister
"One-Word" Review: Straight-Forward-Hard-Rock
Based Out Of: San Fran, Ca
Label: Elektra/Asylum, Warner
Gamma^2 - Cover, Sleeve
Gamma^2 - Back, Sleeve
Gamma^2 - Record

Gamma^2 (1980)
  1. Mean Streak 4:45
  2. Four Horsemen 4:40
  3. Dirty City 3:52
  4. Voyager 5:36 /
  5. Something In The Air 3:16
  6. Cat on a Leash 4:04
  7. Skin & Bone 4:51
  8. Mayday 5:39
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:Ronnie Montrose - Guitar, Producer (Edgar Winter Group, Montrose)
Davey Pattison - Vox (Robin Trower)
Glenn Letsch - Bass
Denny Carmassi - drums (Montrose, Heart, Coverdale/Page, Whitesnake)
Jim Alcivar - Synth (Montrose)
Mick Haggerty - Package Design, Art Direction, Cover Photo
Jeffrey Scales - Photography
Gary Lyons - Engineer, Producer
Ken Kessie - Asst. Engineer
Wayne Lewis - Asst. Engineer
Peter Thea - Asst. Engineer
Georde Marino - Mastering
Glen Quan - Hexaphonic System
Dan Pearce - Moog Synth - Norlin
Bill Graham - Mangement
Genya Ravan - Vox (Ten Wheel Drive)

Unknown-ness: I never heard of these guys, but when I saw this album cover, one of my favorites to ever come across and not know what it was, I knew I had to buy it and see what it contained. It has all the great elements of a classic 80’s cover: sleek mathematical design, bold uniform colors. A crazy ironic take on reality, and the impending danger the legs (and a man's arm...what's going on here?) at the bottom right corner are facing. This screams “cheesy album” or “silly prog” or actually, “both.” And the back is a beautiful conclusion to the story told on the front; with two tears in the pure red slate, reveal…one has a fearful eye looking for help. I can only hope the music stands up to the high bar that this cover sets.

Album Review: “Mean Streak” begins our visit to Gamma-land with a band of drums and electric guitars that sound more like synthesized guitars (Money For Nothing?). The vocals sound like Foreigner’s Urgent. But this is straightforward hard rock. Apparently the guitar solos are given to us by one of the greats in guitar business, and Montrose makes his lead guitar whine at us with its musical words. Since it is his creation, I’m sure we will hear more of it. After a radio friendly fade out, “Four Horsemen” begins with driving “Ace of Spades” guitar work and fast moving drums. It slows down for the vocals, and it enters story teller prog-ville, sounding lyrically like on of Twisted Sisters “advisory songs” where they tell you the details about a bad dude like Captain Howdy. This again is a real good and heavy rock song. The vocals are not annoying and they are not that captivating. They are just sufficient and make the music almost seem like generic hard rock. Next we enter “Dirty City” featuring 25 sec or so of intro effects before the same recipe for “Mean Streak” is repeated. There are some neat slide guitar effects, but otherwise, it is very similar. Toward the end, the last minute or so, the synthesizer is brought up a bit more in production and accents the melody with a great sound. The song comes to a calculated end, and then “Voyager” blows into existence with dreamy guitar, and a beat that is completely copied by Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet.” The wailing guitar keeps the dreamy atmosphere going until the song slowly fades out.

Side two starts with “Something in the Air.” A couple synth notes are played like the beginning of the Star Trek Next Gen series. This is a cover of Thunderclap Newman’s song as it is a little “metaled-up”, featuring a great crunch-sounding rhythm guitar. I’m familiar with the song, but never knew its origin. “Cat on a Leash” begins with more metallic synth echoing keyboards, and the Sammy Hagar style screech-singing sounds a perfect fit (especially since Haggar was part of Montrose). This is more metal then hard rock. Electrified guitars begin “Skin and Bone” with a slow grind, electronic effects and head nodding rhythm. Lots of time is given to display the musical talents in this song, as the slow tempo gives way to creative interpretation. “Mayday” ends the record with synth effects, a driving rhythm guitar, and a power chord guitar. Again this sounds like a heavier Dire Straits song. The vocals begin after a minute and a half of intro. The lead guitar answers back the vocals in the verse section. As the repetitive chorus is sung, the speed of the singing increases and the main instrumentation is stripped away leaving a swirling array of synth effects for the final minute of the track.

Stand-Out Track: Four Horsemen

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