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Shankar / Caroline – The Epidemics
ECM 1308
90 lei
“The Epidemics” has a stellar and varied line up. Lead by Shankar, he was an established ECM artist, recording a number of traditional and Indo Jazz LPs featuring his 10 string double violin for the label.

It is a strange record but probably the most accessible in the ECM catalogue for non-jazz or classical fans, sounding like a traditional eighties rock album. The opening track “Never Take No For An Answer” is the most PIL like. Substitute the recorded vocals for John Lydon and you really have something. The next track (“What Would I Do Without You”) though starts like “Born In The USA” and has bouncy female vocals courtesy of Caroline, sounding like the Gogos fronting up The War On Drugs. Vai’s crunchy guitars are all over “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” and it sounds like we are in a John Hughes movie. “Give An Inch” has Vai doing a passable impression of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” guitar sound but with Kirsty McColl doing the vocals. The LP was recorded in New York and it has a big rocky synth driven sound for much of its duration. Sonically, it sits alongside PIL’s “Album” but without Lydon’s vitriolic lyrics and twisted vocals. The other problem with the record is the mechanised drums. Whilst PIL’s “Album” had the major talent of Ginger Baker, ex of Cream and Tony Williams, Miles Davis alumni on percussion, “The Epidemics” had a bloody great shuddering drum machine booming away. It just gets a bit wearing. It really is quite unlike anything else that ECM released. It is far out of kilter with their normal output – think Berry Gordy putting out “White Light White Heat” or Factory Records releasing “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. In these days of retro-eighties nostalgia, it is actually quite sweet. Shankar’s violin work is bluesy and Vai exercises some restraint. The vocals are the letdown. A stronger singer and it really would fit in with the current success of the likes of War On Drugs. It does hark back to a time though that more risks were taken by record companies with collaborations becoming more commonplace. It’s just a Sex Pistol and a decent drummer short of a decent band.
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BAR TON is a place where both musical afficionados and rookies are welcome.
Other people are also allowed in.