Carmine Appice

Rockers

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Opening with the smart-riffing "Have You Heard" and the even smarter "Keep on Rolling," the drummer for Jeff Beck, Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, and so many others created a driving and focused self-titled solo debut with the able assistance of mega-producer Richard Podolor. Both men get clever and creative; the instrumental of "Paint It Black" at some points leans toward "Aladdin Song," the unreleased Rolling Stones tune that borrowed the "Paint It Black" riff, more so than the Stones' 1966 number one classic. It's more than an amusing take on a popular favorite -- Carmine Appice's version redesigns and gives new color to the Jagger/Richards composition. Similarly, "Be My Baby" gets mutated, but not as effectively. The backing vocals borrowed from Tommy James' "Crimson & Clover" disturb what is otherwise a mainstream rock cover of a pop classic. In "Blue Cafe," the big drum sound creates a foundation for the pop mantra with little touches of reggae. Where Corky Laing's Making It on the Street album from four years earlier revealed a drummer being a minstrel, surprising those who knew that player by the hard rock he was associated with, Appice had dipped into enough other bags that this highly experimental rock record fit his pattern. It's not that it was expected as much as it is a logical extension/performance by this journeyman. Appice calls his band here the Rockers, and guitarist Danny Johnson adds significant crunch to his co-write, "Sweet Senorita." Whatever shortcomings the original material may have, the enthusiasm and spirit bring things up a notch; the session definitely sounds like it was fun. Where Laing's album wins out as far as accessibility, both percussion masters do an admirable job of going solo. For those who wished Phil Collins stayed behind the skins, Carmine Appice by Carmine Appice and Making It on the Street by Corky Laing display creativity by men who like to beat on things and who didn't get overexposed on the Top 40. Both records are refreshingly original. Come to think of it, "Am I Losing You" would have been a welcome addition to the radio in 1981. This album is a diversion from what rock listeners are used to hearing and is recommended.

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