GAMMA 4 [Wounded Bird Records reissue]
Ronnie Montrose did a stellar 1979-82 run with his band GAMMA, a trail-blazing rock quintet with a melodic edge releasing 3 really good LPs. After that he continued with a solo career but returned with Gamma in 2000’s for their final release GAMMA 4, later reissued by Wounded Bird Records with better mastering.
Ronnie and Gamma’s vocalist Davey Pattison always appeared to enjoy working together, taking every opportunity to do so in the years after Gamma dissolved, including this four-fifths reunion of the Gamma 2 and 3 line-ups, with bassist Glenn Letsch and Gamma/Montrose drummer Denny Carmassi joining the fun.
GAMMA 4 is a more mature, bluesy hard rockin’ effort, with emphasis on guitars.
The keyboards are far less prominent than on the early ’80s Gamma works, more “organ”-ic in nature. Among the highlights there’s opener “Darkness To Light” with new organist Edward Roth alternate with heavy parts in which Ronnie celebrates his unique guitar playing, and superb singer Davey Pattison still sounds like 1979-82.
I really like closer “Low Road Home”, a classic rocker with some Led Zeppelin on it, and the bittersweet, acoustic guitar-focused love song “The Only One”.
“Love Will Find You” go for a more rock&pop style, with a nice guitar solo by Mr. Montrose. “Resurrection” has a sax solo by talented Edgar Winter, then “Oh No You Don’t!” is a rock n’ roller with a vintage feeling. All these are far from the original Gamma sound, but enjoyable.
However, “Bad Reputation” delivers that familiar Gamma atmosphere in the mid-section.
“Last Man On Earth” also brings to mind the band’s classic sound. It starts with a guitar part underlined by keys and then goes into a blues rhythm, which reminds of the fantastic “Voyager” of Gamma 2, especially because of Davey’s vocals.
Definitely classic rock oriented, GAMMA 4 has few points in common with the band early works, but it’s a strong album in its own right. The guitar work is excellent throughout, and to befit his singular gift, Mr. Montrose indeed produces some fine soloing.
01 – Darkness To Light
02 – Love Will Find You
03 – Resurrection Shuffle
04 – Oh No You Don’t!
05 – Bad Reputation
06 – Last Man on Earth
07 – The Only One
08 – Out of These Hands
09 – Prayers
10 – Low Road Home
Vocals – Davey Pattison
Guitars – Ronnie Montrose
Bass – Glenn Letsch
Drums – Denny Carmassi
Keyboards – Edward Roth
Percussion, Backing Vocals – Michele Montrose
Saxophone – Edgar Winter
Backing Vocals – Jean-Michel Byron, Lisa Battle