Buzzy Linhart

Studio

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"Free Soul Spirit Symphony" opens Buzzy Linhart's first full commercial release in three decades like some wild outtake from the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. sessions, that is, if some rock & roll madman took over while Mick was in Paris with Bianca shopping. The hook is unforgettable and the playing so in the pocket that one wonders why music this fun and important is isolated by corporations desperate for something fresh, exciting and different. "It Hurts So Bad It Must Be Love," created with ex-members of Wings, Vanilla Fudge, vocals by the Chambers Brothers and even Stones exile Nicky Hopkins himself, follows with no space in between. It's a powerful one-two punch sequenced and coordinated by Linhart's business partner Art Berggren, the 11 songs showing the different facets of Linhart's persona and songwriting skills. No worries about that Linhart not living up to his potential here: the Studio project by the journeyman performer delivers, and delivers in a way that Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow's recent embrace of cover versions simply can't. That's because those great, great artists are taking the safe commercial route while Buzzy Linhart has no such restraints. This disc is a testament to perseverance, having gone through many different mutations 'til these 11 tracks found themselves sequenced in this fashion. The pensive and beautiful "Calico" sets a mood that is disrupted by "Happy Blues," as jarring as the tracking on Santana's Supernatural was hard to absorb at first listen. The breadth of the singer's emotional range is covered here, followed quickly by the quirky "I Believe It Tonight," which is helped out by members of the original Utopia. The record release party for the Studio album held at Manhattan's The Cutting Room in July of 2006 featured Phoebe Snow, pianist David Maxwell, Ian Lloyd of Stories, Luther Rix of Ten Wheel Drive, Moogy Klingman and a host of others. To say they were at the top of their game is an understatement. This album -- with different musicians of the same caliber -- brings Linhart's strong and intuitive melody sense front and center. "Celebrate the Night," co-written with Marty Kupersmith of Jay & the Americans, is a perpetual party praising those who shun the light. Elaborate spaces in between the infectious groove morph into a gorgeous chorus. It's an extraordinary piece, as is "Love Is a Symphony," an ethereal ballad that cascades and glistens, sounding very much like a track left off of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. "Love Is a Symphony" is truly stunning in its beauty, arguably Linhart's best performance on record to date. The repertoire of Buzzy Linhart burst upon the world in a fashion similar to Elton John's launch -- three albums within a year-and-a-half, five albums recorded and released between 1969 and 1974 (John had eight released between 1969 and 1972!) Outside of compilation albums and two publishing discs his Buzzart imprint released to the industry in 1997 and 2003, along with a couple of other limited releases, Studio is the first full album of music available to the world since 1974. Even Sly Stone would have to admit that 32 years makes the two-year gap between his early-'70s releases seem like a mere twinkle in the eye of Father Time. That the Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang would outsell Studio by four or five million isn't the point; the point is, the magic we've been looking to and for the Stones and other icons to provide is here in these grooves. The eccentric Linhart is enigmatic in "real life," on disc he is light years ahead of the pack.

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