Cork

Speed of Thought

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Eric Schenkman left the Spin Doctors following the dismal performance of their second album Turn It Upside Down in 1994. He drifted for a few years, playing the occasional session, before returning in the pan-generation supergroup Cork in 1995. Essentially, Cork is simply Schenkman and former Mountain drummer Corky Laing, but for much of their debut album Speed of Thought, they're joined by bassist Noel Redding of the Jimi Hendrix Experience; whenever he doesn't appear, Schenkman handles the four strings. Cork apply jam band mentality to '70s hard rock. They turn up the volume, strengthen the attack, and make it blusey, while still concentrating on loose-limbed jams. The results are mixed, to say the least. There's little question that the trio are very talented -- anyone who had doubts about Schenkman, believing that he was just a pop guitarist, should be impressed by his performance here -- but the record often sounds forced and even silly. Much of the fault lies in the songs themselves, which are hackneyed hard rockers that often feel like excuses to jam, but the delivery is often unconvincing, particularly since both Schenkman and Laing favor strained bloozeman posturing. Which leaves the playing itself, which is often quite good. It's not all straight live performances, but it often feels like it -- and, from the sound of it, they would make for a good live band, since they gain energy when they're simply playing. Problem is, those stretches don't appear often enough to make Speed of Thought a particularly interesting album -- it holds potential, but rarely delivers on it.

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