Owen Marshall

The Naked Truth

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A veteran multi-instrumentalist whose compositions had been recorded by several noted jazzmen (including Lee Morgan, for whom he also worked on albums as an arranger), Owen Marshall put out this rare privately pressed solo LP in 1975. Marshall handles synthesizer, electric piano, alto sax, flute, some percussion, and even some vocals on this recording, on which he also plays some odder things like "toilet chimes," "bamboo scraper, "baja (jungle) bird talk," and "tube-a-phone." Although it's an eccentric effort in some respects, it's not quite as weird as some of the annotation on this CD reissue might lead you to expect. In some ways, it's a typical decent mid-'70s jazz fusion album, with echoes of early electric Miles Davis (especially in the electric piano), Herbie Hancock, Roland Kirk, and Sun Ra. It certainly is unpredictably eclectic, going from fairly straight-ahead fusion outings to rather spacy endeavors, like "Ancient Astronauts" and the opener, "Electric Flower," which makes use of eerie electronic seagull-like sounds and Marshall's own robotic-like narration/intonations. There's also some sumptuous lullabying in "Nana's Sleeping," with some creative repeating effects on the alto sax; get-down jazz-funk with flute on "Planet Funk"; and nods to exotica on "Casa del Soul" (the cut that employs "bamboo scraper" and "baja [jungle] bird talk"). Though not as original as some jazz icons the music might recall here and there, it's interesting and certainly far less slick than the usual fusion effort of its era, and should reward serious collectors looking for something a little offbeat in the genre. The CD adds some historical liner notes and two bonus cuts from rare 7" releases, one of which ("Evolove") is the funkiest item here, featuring some pretty orgiastic wordless vocals both male and female. Marshall's original detailed Q&A back cover liner notes are reprinted too, albeit in tiny type that's a challenge to read even if your eyesight's good.

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