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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tony Levin

Tony Levin Band - Double Espresso

Review by Gary Hill

Tony Levin and his band tour fairly frequently, bringing their unique show to enthusiastic fans on a regular basis. It wasn't until recently, though, that those fans could have a musical documentation of that group at home. That happened when the band released Pieces of The Sun. Although the outfit of Jesse Gress, Larry Fast, Jerry Marotta and Levin had been touring together for quite some time, it was the first time they had recorded together. Well, this live album is another piece of the picture, allowing fans to truly re-experience the live show in their own homes or cars. It is a very well recorded and performed disc. If you have caught the band live, you really owe it to yourself to have this to relive the experience. If you haven't, pick it up to hear what you have been missing.

The band are joined by a couple of guests here. On one song California Guitar Trio sits in. The album closer is a duet between Levin and his brother Pete.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Pieces of the Sun
A piece that has become the traditional opener for this band, the track begins with percussion that gradually builds. Eventually the song bursts forth into melody and i6 becomes a dynamic and strong piece. I am inclined to think that they would find it hard to come up with a better opener.
This one is a strong piece that packs a lot of energy. Even on this liver recording it is obvious that this is one that comes on even stronger in person. It is a definite crowd-energizer.
On the Pieces of the Sun album, this was the album closer, so it feels a bit weird early in the set like this. Still, it is a charming; at times powerful number that translates well in live performance.
Dog One
A recorded yet never released Peter Gabriel song, this feels only a bit like Gabriel. It is stripped down and moves quite well.
This has to be among the most unusual covers of all time. The piece is absolutely unrecognizable as Tequila until the chorus comes in. That was the intention that the band had when rewriting the song, and it works effectively. This is a strong live number.
Black Dog
Yes, Tony Levin and band take on Led Zeppelin. It starts off just with the bass, but as the band comes in they scorch the piece. This is an instrumental take on that Zep rocker, and quite a strong one at that.
A solid track, this one features quite a few musical changes. It varies from mysterious to powerful and many feelings in between. This is a highlight both of the band's live show, and this live album.
This prog rocker is especially strong and works quite well in the live presentation. It can be rather Crimsonish at times. This one is guaranteed to get the crowd going.
L' Abuto della Sposa
An Italian song that Levin co-wrote, he plays this strictly solo and provides the vocals, sung in Italian. This is a rather haunting cut and quite cool.
Levin and company take on Fripp/Levin and company, playing it a bit looser. This cut has always been a strong one, and this band rocks it out just as well as Crimson did.
Disc 2
Pillar of Fire
This cut, from Levin's Waters of Eden album seems to combine elements of funk, rock and jazz all into a melange that has a decidedly Crimsonesque bent.
The Fifth Man
This dynamic cut is quite fun and a strong part of the live show.
Back In N.Y.C.
A Genesis cover, Levin and Marotta come by it naturally having played the piece in Gabriel's band. The guys put in a great showing on it, feeling much like the original at times.
This one is a more relaxing cut, probably preparing us for the power and intensity of the next piece in the show.
Elephant Talk
Another Crimson cut, this one is just slightly stripped down, but really smokes. Levin's stick work certainly takes the fore on the piece.
Peter Gunn
Featuring a guest appearance by California Guitar Trio, the band takes on Henry Mancini. They do a killer rendition of a song that has been covered by many people. I would put the version head to head against Emerson, Lake and Palmer's take any day of the week.
Tony and brother Pete Levin wrote this for their mother, whose name it bears. Here Pete comes up on stage with Tony to perform it. It is a gentle and touching piece that really works.
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