Within a year from signing the California Guitar Trio, InsideOut Music released the First Decade compilation of tracks from their albums on Robert Fripp's Discipline Global Mobile label. But there is a big catch. You see, during its early years, the CGT's identity was tripartite, each album and concert offering a mix of original compositions, rearranged classical tunes, and surf anthems. The First Decade presents only the originals. In fact, it doesn't even offer a selection, it simply runs the track order of each album in sequence and picks up the tunes penned by Bert Lams, Paul Richards, and Hideyo Moriya. People who don't already own Yamanashi Blues, Invitation, Pathways, and Rocks the West can opt for this CD, but they'll miss on gems like the fabulous arrangement of Bach's "Toccata" and a spirited rendition of the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Of course, The First Decade highlights the group's ability to compose virtuosic tunes made of complex interlacing guitar parts. It also brings forth the fact that the first album rested mainly on covers, the originals being very short. It provides a good listen but tends to become repetitive in lack of lighter tracks to introduce diversity. Is it that the CGT wants to break away from that lighter side and start its second decade anew? Possible, but in any case this disc tells only one side of the story of Lams, Richards, and Moriya's first ten years together.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture