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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Bozzio, Levin, Stevens

Situation Dangerous

Review by Steve Alspach

Red-era King Crimson's may claim to being the best guitar-bass-drums setup in progressive rock, but Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin, and Steve Stevens are more than willing to challenge that assumption with their latest work, "Situation Dangerous". The album shows three musicians at the top of their games.

The personnel is: Terry Bozzio, drums and percussion; Tony Levin, basses, Chapman Stick, and cello; and Steve Stevens, acoustic and electric guitars and effects; and Marcus Nand, acoustic guitar on "Tziganne".

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dangerous
Rather reminiscent of King Crimson's "Red", this song gets out of the gate at warp speed for the first two minutes. The cut then goes into a slower tempo before it catches its breath and takes off again. There is a moment of a Frippian passage, then the composition goes back to the slower tempo to fade.
Endless
The longest track here at a shade over ten minutes, the song paces itself nicely so as not to be overly indulgent. The piece starts off in a relaxed 7/4 mode, Stevens playing a clean arpeggio pattern (with a sitar-like drone in the background) while Levin takes the lead on cello. Stevens then follows with a solo. The band, while staying in 7/4, turns the heat up a notch. Stevens starts off with a clean, jazzy solo. He then shifts to a 9/8 riff while Bozzio and Levin stay in 12/8. Stevens then meets the others in 12/8 while getting off an overdrive solo to the end of the track.
Crash
“Crash” is a brisk, guitar-laden tune that shows the band in full throttle. Much of the composition is in 9, including the main riff, which sounds custom-made for 4/4, but the extra beat keeps the tune from being too complacent. Bozzio's use of double bass drum towards the end is stellar but gets lost a bit in the mix.
Spiral
An acoustic number, this one presents a change of pace. Stevens shows himself to be an excellent acoustic guitarist, playing brilliant flamenco fills and a fiery acoustic solo at the end.
Melt
The mood stays relaxed for this number. "Melt" still has enough twists and turns to hold its own, even if it is the shortest song on the album. Stevens gets in a sharp, bluesy solo during the middle of the cut.
Tragic
An example of excellent arranging and production, this piece shows that even the most innocuous of chord progressions can sound dangerous if approached correctly. Levin plays his trademark oscillating notes, Bozzio gets to show some flash in a short solo, and Stevens plays a lightning-fast solo with seeming ease. At four minutes in, the song changes tempo and builds in steam, Levin playing feverishly and the composition threatening to explode in six different directions, and then the band pulls itself in to repeat the opening theme.
Tziganne
This track is another flamenco exercise, but this time Bozzio takes center stage. After a Stevens solo, Bozzio takes a lead on tom-toms. Later he lightly plays cymbals to good effect during one of Stevens' solos. Between Bozzio and Stevens, the number showcases two musicians who not only feel at home with flamenco, but show their knowledge and expertise of that musical style.
Lost
The band explores a number of different feelings and moods throughout this closing piece. Bozzio plays with excellent precision, Stevens runs the gamut of effects from action film-like orchestral blasts to synthesizer, and Levin lays down a solid base, playing fills unobtrusively or playing stop-and-start runs with flawless accuracy.
 
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