Live in Montreux (Live 1987)
Lo-Light Records / Billy Cobham
Billy Cobham – what a fucking player. He spun my head right around – that single disc greatest hits of his solo records, man. What a life-changer. When it comes down to it, so much of fusion leaves me cool but I could always warm my bones by the fire from Cobham’s (inner mounting) flame. What a phenomenal talent. Fusion’s greatest drummer – and worth investigating for his time with Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra; worth hearing on the very best of his solo 70s records.
But Billy in the 80s? It doesn’t always work. The taste is not there.
He could still ride nicely on a groove (Red Baron) but you’ve got the worst of the synths, the worst of session players showing chops over actual taste; the worst of the excess of that decade.
I have some solo recordings Billy made in the 1980s and they are not the ones I return to often. That said, I’m a sucker for his best work so I was curious to check out this live recording from 1987, suddenly available in this “semi-official” bootleg mode.
And there are blazing opening solos that rival Stratus on both Times of My Life and The Dancer and the groove is there on the opening favourite, Red Baron, and maybe someone out there loves the relentless bass playing and dizzying percussion on The Dancer the be-bop speed-freak piano of Radioactive but I find this all just a bit silly. Even despite Billy’s phenomenal chops. Sometimes because of it.
The nine-minutes of Slow Body Poppin’ is why people hate session-musician albums.
There’s an interview to conclude, Cobham isn’t particularly interesting in this chat, focusing on the move away from the tradition of guitars. He should really have stuck with that if anything, but hey.
Deep fans will find something here. All else are better steered towards the earlier work.