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Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine (remaster)

Fresh off the debut In The Beginning, the "other" trio from Toronto reported back to famous Phase One Studios to record another gut-bustin' rock record that would wear several visible nods to prog on its brass knuckles. The earliest albums by Triumph had the most to benefit from the new remastering process Brett Zilahi at Metalworks put them through, and this Rock & Roll Machine has never sounded better. Sounds are separated like colors on a page, and every guitar lick, bass low and drum strike reverberates with a renewed vitality.

In fact, Levine's four strings are at their most audible, revealing him to be more than the overlooked void-filler he was unfortunately often regarded as. Vocal duties between guitarist Rik Emmett and drummer Gil Moore are evenly split, Gil sounding his best on the opener and closer, Rik's golden pipes crowning "Bringing It On Home," "New York City Streets, Part II," and "Minstrel's Lament"—with a voice like Rik's, it must've been hard to not sound great.

The first three songs are gritty enough and induce visions of urban street life, free love, parties, relationships, and (naturally) babes! Though it disappeared from later setlists, "Takes Time" makes hands ball into fists. Still, there is this pervasive innocence, a transporting medium that becomes the soundtrack to a life and time that was and still is. The opening salvo is balanced by the sweet contours of "New York City Streets, Part I" and its wonderfully understated guitar work and splendid "country-jazz" outro; the steel-grooved second half of "City Streets" that echoes Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" with its chord progression; the melodic detour Mike Levine's uniformly complementary bass-playing takes in the aforementioned songs; and finally, the unlisted Mellotron flutes and choirs on "Minstrel's Lament." Nothing of the sort would be experienced on future Triumph albums (though synthesizers would occur more frequently).

Even this far back, an Emmett solo guitar piece was more or less mandatory, and exists in the form of the second part of the nine minute-plus concept, "The City"—Triumph wouldn't gravitate towards a concept again until Thunder Seven. The first part of the suite is actually an uncredited lift of Holst's "Mars, The Bringer Of War" (well, it does sound very similar!).

The cover of Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" is very solid, and Joe made sure to thank the guys for the "royalty checks" whenever he ran into them at parties back then. The classic title track, an instant concert staple present on all three live albums, is the bookend of this chapter—still close to seven minutes in length, still containing Rik's legendary long guitar interlude. This is what rock's all about!

Track Listing:

1. Takes Time (3:48)
2. Bringing It On Home (4:35)
3. Little Texas Shaker (3:24)
4. New York City Streets – Part I (3:09)
5. New York City Streets – Part II (3:09)
6. – The City – (9:20)
›› Part I – War March [2:14]
›› Part II – El Duende Agonizante [1:46]
›› Part III – Minstrel's Lament [5:20]
7. Rocky Mountain Way (4:04)
8. Rock & Roll Machine (6:53)

Total time: 40:22

Added: August 29th 2005
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Related Link: Triumph Music Dot Com
Hits: 3751
Language: english

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Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine (remaster)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-29 18:08:49
My Score:

What loyal hard rock/metal fan didn't have this in their collection back in the late 70's? Triumph's first few albums contain plenty of kick ass heavy rock, and while the songwriting of the three fellows from Canada was not yet up to par with what they would put together on Allied Forces and subsequent releases, Rock & Roll Machine still contains enough anthems to merit it being an essential Triumph recording. After all, any album that has the metal staple "Rock & Roll Machine", which became a concert favorite and showcase for Rik Emmet's guitar solo, has to be given some accolades.

In addition, there's the crunchy rocker "Takes Time", the catchy and emotional "Bringing It On Home", the down and dirty, almost Southern Rock boogie of "Little Texas Shaker", and the jazzy prog-rock meets metal of the two part "New York City Streets". Emmet's guitar playing on this album runs the gamut from distorted and gritty to smooth and tasty, even early on showing what a complete player he was. The band even put together a second multi-part piece, titled "The City", broken into three segments. "Part 1-War March" and "Part 2-El Duende Agonizante" are instrumental, the first a vehicle for Emmet's fuzz toned guitar and Gil Moore's nimble drum work, and the latter sees Emmet blazing away on the acoustic. "Part 3-Minstrel's Lament" is a vocal piece featuring lovely acoustic guitar and vocals from Emmet, plus layers of synths and Mellotron from bassist Mike Levine. Emmet also takes a fine melodic electric guitar solo on this as well. Definitely one of the more progressive pieces the band ever recorded.

The 1-2 punch that closes the CD is a cover of Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" (and an admirable job done I might add) and the incomparable title track. Despite the lack of polish that the band shows on Rock & Roll Machine there's plenty of strong material here that makes this a noteworthy release, and the remaster job is very good.

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