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Isotope and Gary Boyle: Live at the BBC

Along with Nucleus, Isotope were one of the more popular European jazz/progressive fusion bands of the 1970's, although sadly never seem to get mentioned as much alongside contemporaries like Return to Forever, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Brand X, or the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Guitarist Gary Boyle honed his chops with Dusty Springfield and Brian Auger's Trinity before forming Isotope, a formidable fusion monster that also included at one time or another Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper, Jeff Clyne , bass player from Nucleus, keyboard players Brian Miller, Laurence Scott, Frank Roberts, and former Asia/Yes/Buggles member Geoff Downes, as well as ace drummer Nigel Morris. This CD is made up of three BBC sessions-Radio 1 in Concert from 10/12/73, Old Grey Whistle Test from 3/26/74, and Peel Sessions from 8/22/77.

Isotope's sound for those who have never heard the band is perhaps best associated with the fiery jazz-rock sounds of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Boyle's guitar work is raw and technical, and his speedy, distorted runs are all over tracks like "Upward Curve" and "Retracing My Steps". Fans of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, and Larry Coryell from the same time period will find much to enjoy in Boyle's style, tone, and technique. Ironically, keyboard player Brian Miller wrote many of the songs that are included here, and his textured Fender Rhodes electric piano passages complete the more rock based guitar work of Boyle. When this band wanted to rip, they certainly did. Check out the blazing and funky chops on the barn-burner "Honky Donkey", a tune that sees Boyle's monstrous riffs and searing leads doing battle with Miller's nimble Rhode's runs, while Morris and Clyne groove through intricate rhythms.

The final three cuts, all from the Peel Sessions, are basically a band under the Gary Boyle moniker, but the music is identical to the fire of Isotope. It's neat to hear Geoff Downes in a fusion environment, and I'm sure that most people who only know his playing from Asia will be surprised at the chops he displays here.

This is an essential addition to any Isotope or 70's fusion collection. The booklet is also a real treat, as it is packed with info & photos of the band, plus an interview with Boyle. Check it out!

Track Listing
Radio 1 In Concert 10/12/73
1. Upward Curve
2. Do The Business
3. Retracing My Steps
4. Honky Donkey
Old Grey Whistle Test 3/26/74
5. Bite On This
6. Upward Curve
Peel Sessions 8/22/77
7. The Dancer
8. Cowshed Shuffle
9. Almond Burfi

Added: March 13th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 3896
Language: english

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