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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Grönholm and Small

Head Funk

Review by Gary Hill

I've previously reviewed a couple discs from Grönholm. Here guitarist Mika Grönholm joins forces with singer Lee Small. The result is a sound that is so classic that it's almost scary. The closest comparison (and one that shows up most often) is to Glenn Hughes. Overall this soulful, funky yet rocking sound feels like it could have come right out of the 1970s. This album is fresh at the same time, though. This is a great set that should really click with people who love that kind of music. It is likely to make my "best of 2019" list.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fastlane
Pounding in as a hard rocking jam with a lot of 1970s in the mix, comparisons to things like Led Zeppelin and Whitesnake are warranted. I dig the harmonica on the cut, and this thing has such a killer metal edge to it.
Feel
In some ways this isn't far removed from the opening cut. However, there are hints of prog rock built into this thing. It also has a lot of funk in the mix. This makes me think of something Glenn Hughes would do to a large degree. There is a killer retro proggy movement later in the piece, too. It's another killer cut on a disc that's full of them.
The Way We Want
Speaking of prog, they bring that to bear to an even larger degree here. While the Glenn Hughes thing is still all over this, there are comparisons to be made to Pink Floyd on this number, too. It almost feels like what you might get if Hughes era Deep Purple collaborated with the mighty Floyd. I love the heavy and seriously tasty instrumental section further down the road.
Soul Satisfaction
Funk and soul merge with some trippy psychedelic prog on this killer tune. This is less mainstream than a lot of the rest here, but it still has some serious bluesy soul driving it. It gets seriously funky later, too.
Devotion
Fast paced soulful funk sounds are at the heart of this killer tune. The Glenn Hughes reference is again valid, but I can make out things like Living Colour here, too. Whatever you call this, it's a powerhouse. I really love the bass work on this thing. The whole track feels like a slab of 1974 to me.
Caught
Soul, funk and smoking hot hard rock drive this number. It's again very much the kind of thing you might expect from Mr. Glenn Hughes. The bass work is again particularly noteworthy. The soaring jam later, though, is part Robin Trower and part Jimi Hendrix.
Winter's Blues
Not a big surprise, this seems to merge Glenn Hughes with Whitesnake and Living Colour. It's a driving rocker that's classic in style and execution.
Last Hearts of Fire
This groove is one of the most retro of the bunch. Given the competition that says a lot. It's another that definitely makes me think of Glenn Hughes. It feels like something that landed right out of the 1970s. It's a very tasty one, too.
Safe in My Arms
Another mainstream number with a classic sound at its heart, this is soulful and powerful. It's not really a ballad, but it's less a rocker than some of the others are.
 
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