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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Carl Franklin

Been a While

Review by Gary Hill

Had I heard this disc in 2013 (the year it was released) it might very well have made my “best of the year” list. It’s that good. The mix of sounds here ranges from jazz to jazzy rock and more. The quickest comparison would be to Steely Dan. The vocals definitely make one think of that group and so do the jazzy arrangements. I don’t think anyone would mistake this as The Dan, though. It’s certainly of similar quality, though. John Scofield guests on the third track of the set. Franklin’s brother Jay also performs on the album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Waiting for the Summer to Come

Coming in with a great soulful vibe, this feels a lot like something Steely Dan would do. Coming from me, that’s high praise. This is a great piece of music that works really well. I love this. The horns add a lot to the mix and there are some killer funky moments here.

Drive My Car
This Beatles tune gets a funky treatment here. It’s another killer tune. The bass really stands out here and again I’m reminded of Steely Dan quite a bit. The bluesy guitar solo is a great addition. So is the cool jam later that has a real jazz element to it. They even throw some other Beatles quotes in the midst of that. The closing jam is yet another highlight of the tune.
Chain Reaction
Jazzy elements and a cool rock groove are combined into something that’s special. It’s almost got some progressive rock built into it at times. I love the vocal arrangement on this thing. The jam later is pure jazz and pure cool.
Boogie Groove
Here we get another cool, jazzy number. This is very much more pure jazz, but the vocals  (and some of the changes) remind me of Steely Dan. Of course, The Dan have always been quite jazzy. I love the keyboard led jam later in the piece, too. The thing turns nicely funky. It’s just another killer instrumental passage on an extremely cool album.
False Profit
Coming in slower and a bit tentative, this grows out gradually in fine fashion. There’s almost a space rock or prog vibe to it. There’s a bluesy vibe as this continues. They bring it out into more rocking styles as they work forward. Listen to the bass work on some of this and you’ll be impressed. The thing is, no matter how good the instrumental work on any of this, it never overshadows the song. Everything works together to tell a powerful musical tale. I love the bluesy guitar soloing on this thing. They twist it out into some freeform jazz for a time in a couple places along this musical road. .
Big Butter and Egg Man
A short jazz flourish gives way to a slower tune that’s a full jazz treatment. There’s a bluesy vibe to this and a real old school sound. It really wails. There are little bits of this that have sounds akin to the jazzy end of Frank Zappa’s music. The percussion gets some sections of soloing, but the guitar manages to show off amidst that, too. There are some cool keyboard moments here, too. They really give us some great instrumental passages as they explore the musical themes.
The Titanic
Although there is a bit of that Steely Dan vibe and some funk in the mix, this really feels like old school pop music, circa the jazz era. This is one of the most straight line numbers and it really maintains that old time music element through most of the piece.
Time Bomb
Drums lead out here. Keyboards join tentatively and this starts to work out as a real freeform jam. The guitar reinforces that. They take this instrumental through a number of changes and it’s just a great piece of music.
Out of Your Way
Coming in rather slow, this works out very much like Steely Dan. The arrangement on this isn’t as developed as that on a lot of the disc. It still works well, though. The only real jazz in the mix here is the bass line. The piece is another strong one and shows a different side of Franklin’s sound.
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