Ian Gillan Band

Scarabus

  • AllMusic Rating
    3
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Ian Gillan never sounded entirely comfortable in the first incarnation of the Ian Gillan Band, quite likely because his colleagues were more interested in progressive rock than he was. Not that Gillan was adverse to prog -- after all this was the Ian Gillan Band, and if he didn't want to move in this direction, he wouldn't -- but he never sounded entirely comfortable with it. That much was certain from Clear Air Turbulence, a full-fledged exploration into jazz fusion and prog rock where the band sounded at ease and the singer sounded tentative, which was perhaps the reason IGB did a 180 for their third album, Scarabus. Released a mere six months after Clear Air Turbulence, Scarabus rocks considerably harder than its predecessor, but there are still flourishes of their more experimental inclinations, particularly how they easily fall into a funk fusion groove. Their presence only emphasizes how Gillan sounds best when he's simply rocking. And he does get the occasional chance to do that here, but too often the riffs are transparently complicated, not catchy, or the music breaks into contrived jazzy instrumentals. Compared to Clear Air Turbulence, Scarabus does sound like unadulterated hard rock, but it never rocks with abandon; it always sounds self-conscious. That self-consciousness is only enhanced by the lack of strong material -- "Mad Elaine" does come close to being memorable, but most of the songs sound like excuses to rock. Even if Scarabus is a failure, it is interesting for longtime Gillan fans, since it does offer proof that IGB were talented musicians who just couldn't quite deliver the hard rock their singer craved. Listening to Scarabus in retrospect, it's little wonder that he disbanded IGB after this album. [The initial Virgin CD reissue of Scarabus contained a live version of "My Baby Loves Me" as a bonus track; Eagle/Spitfire's 1999 reissue retained the bonus track.]

blue highlight denotes track pick