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Nucleus: Under the Sun/Snakeships Etcetera (reissue)

The 1974 and 1975 releases from British jazz-fusion outfit Nucleus has just been released on the fine BGO Records as a 2 CD set, chock full of liner notes and line-up information. Both of these albums saw Ian Carr and Nuclues taking on a more funk/rock fusion slant, and while there is still a lot of jazzy tones here, the music is more electrified and filled with more grooves than previous offerings.

The presence of electric piano and Moog synthesizer play a huge role on both these albums, courtesy of Gordon Beck, Geoff Castle, and Carr himself. In addition, lots of wah-wah guitar licks from Ken Shaw and Jocelyn Pitchen permeate the mix, as well as throbbing bass lines from Roger Sutton, all of which can be heard from the opening moments of the song "In Procession" from Under the Sun. A tune like "The Addison Trip" is just dripping with funky grooves that shake the speakers and get your whole body moving, much like Miles Davis' On the Corner period. "Pastoral Graffiti" is a lovely piece that features Carr's melodic trumpet melodies and the gentle flute passages from Bob Bertles. On "New Life" the band pulls out all the jazz-fusion stops, with raging horns, atmospheric electric piano, Bryan Spring's energetic drum work, and a rippling guitar solo from Pitchen. The concluding "Sarsaparilla" multi-part epic features lots of trumpet, flugelhorn, sax, clarinet, and wonderous electric piano solos from the legendary Gordon Beck. The band manages to come up with a huge, big band sound, that just flows with melodic intensity while still showing off their fiery chops.

Snakeships Etcetera follows a similar path, but perhaps kicks the funk up a notch. Geoff Castle's array of keyboards merges with Ken Shaw's thick wah-wah guitars while Carr and Bertles' trumpet & sax soar on the energetic "Rat's Bag", while the moody "Alive and Kicking" is a dark number with creepy Moog and squonking sax. The remaining four tracks are all examples of classic 70's melodic fusion, with "Pussyfoot" perhaps being the strongest with its clever electric piano vamps, crisp guitar rhythms, and flighty flute passages.

There is so much to recommend here. Nucleus fans worldwide can rejoice in the fact that most of the group's back catalog is now available, and new listeners can discover one of the best of the 70's fusion bands. Essential listening!

Added: September 12th 2003
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: BGO Records
Hits: 4706
Language: english

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