Bill Cutler — Crossing the Line
(Magnatude MTX-2316-2, 2008, CD)
by Alan K. Lipton, Published 2011-06-01
Bill Cutler arrived in San Francisco in 1970, spent the following decades producing other people’s records, and on his first album channels all those influences and experiences. His guitar and high tenor anchor these self-penned, intelligent rock ’n’ roll songs, covering the range of styles you’d expect from a musician who came of age in the 60s and 70s. The strong Grateful Dead influence on country rockers “Burning the Candle,” “Ballad of Bras Coupe,” and “Rockingham Mill” is boosted by contributions from Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Mark Karan. The huge cast of Bay Area session players also includes Jorma Kaukonen, Chris Solberg, and Matthew Kelly. There’s a classic rock feel to the crisp tempos, roadhouse piano, enveloping Hammond organ, punchy harmonica and righteous background singers, but then along comes “Boy with a Future” and the title track. These songs, respectively about doomed romance and America’s culture collapse in the 90s, are textbook new wave guitar pop, heroic rock ’n’ roll minimalism, and drumhead-tight songcraft. Listen to the whole CD through that filter and you’ll hear the work of someone who really knows his hooks. And since it’s a producer’s album, every note is in its place and every instrument’s tone is pure. It’s great to hear Garcia’s unmistakable solos in this context, especially on the warm, extended, two-chord jam ending “Delta Nightingale” and, weirdly, on “Starlite Jamboree,” which is Bill’s eulogy for Jerry. This is the advantage to developing an album’s worth of tracks over about 20 years!
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more