GAMMA 2 [remastered Japanese SHM-CD] (2014)

GAMMA 2 [remastered Japanese SHM-CD] (2014) full

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Founded by guitarist Ronnie Montrose and singer Davey Pattison in San Francisco at the end of the seventies, GAMMA delivered three stupendous albums in the lapse of 4 years. They returned in 2000 with a new effort, but the original records are the ones regarded as cult classics.
All have been freshly remastered in Japan and manufactured on high quality SHM-CD, released on Cardboard Sleeve (mini LP) reproducing the original artwork.
As previously featured on the blog with the other two records by the band, now it’s time for GAMMA 2.

On this album Ronnie Montrose keeps his streak of not having the same personnel on two albums in a row, changing the line-up once again. Gone is Gamma 1 drummer Skip Gillette, replaced by Montrose stalwart Denny Carmassi. Departed also was bassist Alan Fitzgerald, headed for Night Ranger and replaced by relative unknown Glenn Letsch.
And manning the producer’s chair(s) this time around, were Foreigner / Aerosmith vet Gary Lyons and Ronnie Montrose himself.
In each case, the changes were just what this band needed to update their sound. There’s no better way to say it; Gamma 2 rocks!

To be sure, Ronnie Montrose dominates this album like he does most everything he participates in. These songs are powered by one dynamite riff after another, and the guitar solos consistently astonish with their speed, intricacy and strong melodic sense (this album features some of the best work of Montrose’s estimable career).
But, unlike on Gamma 1, on this album everyone else keeps up; this band is a tight, powerful unit. Denny Carmassi in particular is downright explosive behind the drum kit, delivering arguably the best performance of a career (Montrose, Coverdale / Page, Heart) that’s seen some great ones. He sets monster grooves, adds terrific fills, and when it’s called for, wails on his kit with Bonham-like intensity.

The chemistry here is evident from the very start, as the band kicks off with the muscular “Meanstreak” Carmassi and Letsch hammering the rhythm home under sharp Montrose riffs and smooth synthesizer fills from Jim Alcivar.
Pattison sings with conviction, Montrose solos with passion, the rhythm section drives the whole thing across the finish line – and before you can even catch your breath they dive into the blistering double-time intro to “Four Horsemen.”

GAMMA 2 [remastered Japanese SHM-CD] (2014) cd photo

There’s a reason the first four tracks on Gamma 2 are presented in sequence; like the band that recorded them, they function as a unit. After the menacing, fantasy-inspired lyric of “Four Horseman,” the group drops into a gritty urban setting for “Dirty City.” The propulsive main riff here plays well off Alcivar’s rich synth textures and Pattison’s urgent vocals.

The capper, though – and still one of my favorite Gamma cuts ever – is the incredible “Voyager”. Alcivar’s synths stay back here, providing a soft, windy backdrop to what’s essentially a Montrose-Pattison duet, a deeply melodic tale of loneliness and salvation that inspires them both to new heights. Pattison’s roots as a blues singer are on full display here as he simultaneously conveys grit and a deep vulnerability. Montrose delivers in equal measure, threading a quiet intensity through the whole track, surrounding one of the most impassioned solos he’s ever cut, a steady-building sunburst of notes and phrases and astonishingly nimble runs that ignites into ‘cries’ at its climax.

“Cat On A Leash” and “Skin And Bone” are more straight forward rockers, with slightly macabre, futuristic lyrics and wild guitar and synth tones.
“Mayday” closes the disc out in powerhouse fashion with another driving chorus, more unique synth effects and some stupendous fretwork from Mr. Montrose. Things close on a playful note, a steady acceleration into musical chaos that inevitably harks back to the rocket-launch close of the Montrose nugget ‘Space Station #5’ albeit with synths handling most of the special effects this time around.

GAMMA 2 [remastered Japanese SHM-CD] (2014) back cover

The good news was, Gamma 2 was a fantastic album. The bad news was, radio didn’t get on board.
The album had a strong following among fans of Ronnie Montrose and the first Gamma album, but airplay and wider success again eluded the group.
Anyway, Gamma 2 rocks. It’s a great mix of classic hard rock with a commercial, catchy approach and lots of awesome melodies.
This Gamma 2 Japanese SHM-CD 2014 remaster is stupendous, taken from the original master tapes, and the artwork exactly as the original printed on a glossy paper.
I always loved Gamma 2 cover… land-shark… everybody back in the house!
Highly Recommended.

{ARCANGELO JAPAN ~ ARC-8083}

01 – Mean Streak
02 – Four Horseman
03 – Dirty City
04 – Voyager
05 – Something In The Air
06 – Cat On A Leash
07 – Skin And Bone
08 – Mayday

Davey Pattison: lead vocals
Ronnie Montrose: guitar
Jim Alcivar: keyboards
Glenn Letsch: bass
Denny Carmassi: drums

BUY IT !
www.cdjapan.co.jp/product/ARC-8083
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