Jeff Berlin

Pump It!

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

Like Stuart Hamm, Jeff Berlin finds himself to be neither a fusion player or a rock player, but rather somewhere uncomfortably in between. His chops are unmatched; however, like Al Di Meola, this has always presented the issue of musical integrity. His importance to aspiring bass players cannot be overstated; however, to the casual listener this session will sound too uneven. The opening track, "Pump It!," featuring Buddy Miles on lead vocals, sounds stiff and contrived. He does redeem himself though on "Joe Frasier (Round 2)," an expansion of a song he wrote while with Bill Bruford. His tribute to Rush "All The Greats" and to J.S. Bach "Bach" contain impressive playing, but are far too repetitive to sustain any interest beyond his solos. Buddy Miles does a better job of leading the band on "Crossroads," although it sounds silly compared to Mr. Clapton's version. The disappointment here is that guitar shredder Paul Gilbert is not given any significant space. Frank Gambale, on the other hand, does get a fair amount of space to showcase his sweep picking technique in one of his first recorded appearances. The highlight of this inconsistent recording is "Manos De Piedra" on which Berlin plays a blistering solo that surely padded his already established legend in the bass playing community.

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