Quantum Jump

Quantum Jump

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Anyone coming to this after hearing Rupert Hine's 1973 solo album Unfinished Picture and expecting more of the same would have been in for something of a shock. Having recorded some of the most bewitching, if often downright perplexing, art rock of the period, Hine clearly decided he needed an urgent injection of funk. Yet though the first three tracks of Quantum Jump's debut album throw all the right shapes -- slapped bass, bongoes, horn interjections, falsetto harmonies -- Hine's art rock sensibilities hadn't been entirely jettisoned. The first clue comes with the ominous synth chords of standout track "No American Starship," which also provides the first indication that all involved had been listening more closely than most to the Mahavishnu Orchestra. (Guitarist Mark Warner was especially overqualified to hold down the axeman's job with any regular rock band.) There is also a quirky English sense of humor at work on a song like the now politically dubious "The Lone Ranger" ("Maybe masked man he a poofter/Try it on with surly Tonto"), which came very close to giving the band a hit when it was issued as a single, before the BBC got wind of its gay sex content and slapped a ban on it. That the funk was little more than a toy with which Hine was briefly fascinated becomes abundantly clear during "Alto-Loma Road," where the band finally gets to demonstrate its prog rock credentials via a fiendishly complex instrumental break. By the time you reach the four-part (oops, what a giveaway) "Something at the Bottom of the Sea," the Afros and sequins have been well and truly dumped. And frankly Quantum Jump's brittle jazz-rock topped off with willfully arcane lyrics ("Snake charmer/Fill your head with skin," anyone?) has exhausted its welcome well before you reach part four.

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