Gamma 1

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For Gamma's debut on Elektra, the band picked Mickey Newbury's "Wish I Was" and Hollies/Linda Ronstadt songwriter Clint Ballard Jr.'s "I'm Alive," when maybe Newbury's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" would have been more appropriate. As far as Ballard's contribution goes, the more familiar "You're No Good" might've worked better than "I'm Alive," creativity not being Gamma's strong suit. With such a cool name as Gamma, the rays that turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk, one might expect Ronnie Montrose to come up with a nice mutated blend of hard-edged Pink Floyd meets Hawkwind. No such luck. The opening track, "Thunder and Lightning," has all the pedestrian elements of a marriage between Foreigner and Bad Company, the mainstream meets the mundane. Ken Scott's production work leaves empty spaces in between the guitar crunch and the keyboard fills, with the work feeling unfinished or rushed. The Hollies' "I'm Alive" is better suited to that band; it drives at a good tempo here but the sound is thin and much too derivative, with backing vocal effects on the verses that simply annoy. The eight songs are mostly from the pen of Montrose, with singer Davey Pattison involved in three of the tunes. Things really get bad on Pattison's one solo composition, the five-minute "No Tears," as the band goes into the riff from Bad Company's second hit single, 1975's "Movin' On." With a frontman who sounds like Lou Gramm by way of Paul Rodgers, Gamma shamelessly uncovers why it would go nowhere. "Razor King" comes off like a lightweight rewrite of Bad Company's "Shooting Star" theme, a bit quicker but breaking no new ground. The best track on the disc is the instrumental "Solar Heat," written by Montrose. It has the spacy sounds the band's name implies, and no voices means identity. "Ready for Action" is another Montrose original, and it comes in a close second. Keyboard player Jim Alcivar teams up with the guitarist to create the final tune, "Fight to the Finish." Coming after the bluesy cover of country songwriter Newbury's "Wish I Was," it swings things back to Foreigner, the sequel to "Double Vision" that Gramm and Mick Jones never wrote. Gamma's debut is such a mirror image of other people's music that it would make Rolling Stones tribute band the Blushing Brides turn their blush a whiter shade of pale. Sad to say, though the production got better on Gamma 2, it's a rewrite of what you'll find here. Unmemorable.

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