Best of Network: View from the Bar

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View from the Bar gathers highlights from Network's first four albums, following the group through relatively straightforward, Return to Forever-style fusion ("L.21") to harder-edged work incorporating a more improvisational sound ("S.O.S."). Drummer Steve Clarke and trumpeter Ted Emmett seem to be the real stars here; they're particularly effective on "More Speed Darling?," which breaks away from the all-cylinders noodling and lets Emmett solo over a skittering bassline and some frenetic snare work from Clarke. Network does have a tendency to be too dense for the casual listener. The nearly ten-minute "Always in Our Thoughts" begins as a gritty blues-rock jam, and though it keeps that groove going, its immediacy is lost in a foggy, extended solo midsection. This is definitely music for music heads. View from the Bar also features guitarist Tim Crowther, the keyboards of Pete Jacobsen and Steve Franklyn, and a rotating lineup of bassists that includes Nick Stephens and Laurence Cottle. A CD-ROM video of "L.21" is also included.

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