Review of TOTAL ECLIPSE by Stephen Davis, ROLLING STONE 5-08-75

Super drummer Cobham is on his third album and seems still to be looking for a sound to match his almost hallucinatory, amibidextrous talent. His first two records centered on high-energy music (a la Mahavishbu), and the funkier themes of CROSSWINDS. The solar and lunar themes of TOTAL ECLIPSE meld the two into a homogenized medium. While the music isn’t offensive , there aren’t any vital breakthroughs achieved either. The Billy Cobham Players include several young veterans who contribute some nice lines. John Abercrombie is best known for his work with Gato Barbieri , and he provides intense, soaring electric guitar, especially on SOLARIZATION . The front line of the band is rounded out by the Brecker Brothers , Mike on reeds and flute, and Randy on horns. The Breckers are well atuned to each other and sound crisp and tight on LUNARPUTIANS and BANDITS. The major problem with Cobham’s music is that it’s just too slick. As often happens with a drummer-led group the major emphasis is naturally on the percussion, and with a drummer of Cobham’s calibre, it’s hard to fault the producers [Cobham and Ken Scott] for putting less emphasis on the guitars and horns than on the leader’s awsome displays of stick work. Yet Cobham might pick up a hint from Elvin Jones, who has been running bands since he left Coltarane almost ten years ago. Elvin keeps the mix nice and even, only rising above it for his solo work. Whereas Cobham writes all his band’s music [complete with every thematic and melodic cliche’ in the book], Elvin lets his talented sidemen contribute their songs and develop them for the group. Billy Cobham is perhaps too strong a mucician to run a group without totally dominating the rest of the players, but until he gets his ego within some boundaries, his records should continue at the same bland pace.


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