Horace Silver

Total Response (Phase I)

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When jazz critics complain about the decline of Blue Note in the late '60s and early '70s, Total Response is the kind of album they have in mind. A sprawling, incoherent, and just plain weird mess of funk, fusion, soul-jazz, African spirituality, and hippie mysticism, Total Response aims at the transcendent and stumbles upon its own ludicrous ambitions. Building from familiar, funky soul-jazz vamps, Silver wrote a set of nine songs that were designed to "bring a little more Health, Happiness, Love and Peace into your life." Appropriately, the album is filled with songs about the evils of the modern world ("Acid, Pot or Pills," "Big Business") and how self-awareness ("What Kind of Animal Am I?," "I'm Aware of the Animal Within Me") and open minds ("Won't You Open Up Your Senses," "Soul Searchin'," "I've Had Little Talk") can lead to spiritual peace and fulfillment ("Total Response"). All this may be true, but the way that it's said -- laid-back, featureless fusion vamps with awkward lyrics by Silver ("Our water isn't pure/When fluoride we endure") that are wailed tunelessly by Salome and Andy Bey -- is terribly clumsy and ridiculous. It wouldn't matter that there is "little jazz content" to the music if these fusions of soul, funk, jazz, and poetry worked, but since they fail so miserably, the lack of improvisation and inspiration from Silver, saxophonist Harold Vick, trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, guitarist Richie Resnicoff, bassist Rob Cranshaw, and drummer Mickey Roker only emphasizes what a mess Total Response is.

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