Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
Well, I'm half, or maybe three-quarters, Irish but have never understood the big deal about Celtic music. For the most part, I get the yawns save when in the presence of clearly outstandingly unorthodox practitioners like the obscure Bad Haggis ensemble. I'm also a confirmed prog-aholic and was attracted to the overhyped but quite decent Magna Carta label but, er, more lukewarmly toward their Celtic semi-prog ensemble Tempest, which was a fair enough band, all things considered.
The player-composer releasing On Tape, Adolfo Lazo, has been their drummer for two decades and, frankly, has the mother group beat raw on this solo emergence, a superb collection of mainstream and other rock-based musics (Two Minute Love, f'rinstance, is a short prog powerhouse) that would have had Jim Capaldi (Traffic's skinsman turned soloist), Mark Ashton (Rare Bird's percussionist also turned lone gun), and Alan White (Yes' drummer, who put out a great solo LP) paying attention. Every cut here is more attractive than Tempest's work.
The CD cover stinks, however, an altered composite of an old reel-to-reel box, giving absolutely zero indication of the ambrosias contained within. Sigh!, when will these guys learn a few marketing truisms? However, Gawain Matthews, the release's co-producer, wields a wickedly cool guitar that occasionally becomes Spanish in beautiful turns, and the guests tout an array of percussive instruments flavoring the album as one might expect a drummer's favor to bend. Each track rocks with infectious rhythms, the center always a warmly narcotic basic fundament loaded up with interlocking grooves, stately mellifuity (100 Times, for instance), Lazo's voice and lyrics, considered lines, and an endemic coolness. Damn near zero Celtic intrusions and that's just fine by me, especially when I can glom a Levon Helm-ish organ (Outta Vegas) and other influences invading the roster. This cat, then, deserves full attention purely on his own merits, and about the only criticism I can render is that I woulda lightened up a bit on the mid-lower to lower register range in the recording, though it hardly matters. Just sit back and enjoy a righteous rock effort sans preconceptions.
And hey, borracho, who brought the tequila? (Ya hafta hear the disc to get the joke.)