Bassist/Chapman Stick virtuoso Tony Levin has played with all the greats; King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Liquid Tension Experiment, ABWH, Bozzio Levin Stevens, and Nucleus. He also has built up an impressive catalog of solo albums, and this new live 2CD set is sort of the culmination of his great solo work. Recorded live at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, NY (damn, why wasn't I there?), Tony is joined by synthesizer wiz Larry Fast, guitarist Jesse Gress, and drummer Jerry Marotta, for 19 songs of intense music.
There's a great mix of lovely, melodic pieces, raging prog rock workouts, and intriguing covers. "Silhouette" is a wonderful, yearning track with Levin's melodic lead bass simply mourning wonderful notes while Gress also lays down some tortured wailings of his own. "Pieces of the Sun" is an upbeat rocker, with intricate work from the whole band, especially Fast and Gress. Levin pulls out his cello for the ominous "Ooze", while the fusion of "Pillar of Fire" settles into a funky groove highlighted by the excellent lead guitar work of Gress. The pounding "Ever the Sun Will Rise" starts off as an atmospheric piece, then picks up the pace with a solid rhythm, symphonic synths, and lots of sustained guitar leads. Levin struts his stuff on the Stick on the bouncy "The Fifth Man", and the band even plays one of Larry Fast's songs, "Phobos", which lets the keyboard maestro cover the sonic landscape with all sorts of wonderful sounds and textures.
As for the cover tunes, the band smokes on the Peter Gabriel song "Dog One" , complete with raging guitar work, and absolutely rampages through an instrumental working of "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin. King Crimson fans will love the band's interpretations of "Sleepless" and "Elephant Talk", with Levin and Marotta taking over the vocal slots. Marotta also sings the words to the Genesis classic "Back in N.Y.C." (check out the vintage keyboard sounds from Fast on this one!), and a surprising "Peter Gunn" shows the band pulling out all the stops.
Whew! Lot's of great music here, by an outfit that is pretty lethal. For a live album, the sound quality is great, and the playing superb. Highly Recommended!