Andy Mackay

In Search of Eddie Riff

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A youthful Andy Mackay along with saxophone and cat stare out from the front cover of this compelling instrumental LP recorded between February of 1974 and June of 1975. Opening with a cool cover of "Wild Weekend," the Top Ten 1963 hit for the Rebels, this is fun stuff from the artsy realm of serious U.K. musicians. With less complexity than listeners have come to expect from Roxy Music alum, an innocent ballad like Skeeter Davis' "The End of the World" becomes transcendent by way of simple instrumentation -- Mackay's sax as the lead instrument, tasty guitars, and keys filling in nicely. There is a definite '60s feel to this album, perhaps a testimonial along with the reinterpretation of the four covers included in this mix of originals and traditional songs. Mackay's "Walking the Whippet" is like some rave amendment to the number one surf rock hit from 1962, "Telstar" by the Tornadoes. The back cover has what looks like a nuclear rocket tilted right with a sax shifting left against a cloudy background. The version of Motown's "What Becomes of The Broken Hearted" leans more towards Muzak than the experimentation one would expect from this Roxy crew. Former bandmate Eno along with his replacement in Roxy Music, Eddie Jobson, and the usual suspects, John Porter, Paul Thompson, even Deep Purple's Roger Glover, all conspire and bring inspiration to this highly listenable project. The arrangement of Schubert's "An Die Musik" changes the mood dramatically. Whatever fueled the Ferry/Eno split, the creative ideas of individual members of RM started spreading out over many solo discs at this point in time, from Phil Manzanera's Diamond Head to Eno and Ferry's multitudinous albums on their own. Guitarist Manzanera's disc sounds more like a test of Roxy's themes, a good supplement to the contributor's various facets, while here Andy Mackay just seems to be expressing himself and having fun. Released on the cusp of what the French would call the nouvelle vague, containing flavors of girl group instrumentation and other '60s musical references, there is a good balance between familiar songs -- The Beatles' "Long and Winding Road" and atmospheric pieces like "The Hour Before Dawn" or the album's high point, "Pyramid of Night (Past, Present and Future," both composed by Andy Mackay. The Mackay/Eno composition "Time Regained" is also worth noting. Good background party music that will keep your guests from leaving.

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