Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brian Auger & Oblivion Express; C.D. Review; Looking In The Eye Of The World (Fuel 2000)

This latest offering from the English Hammond B3 King finds him on familiar ground. Brian Auger’s current incarnation of Oblivion Express features his daughter Savannah and his son Karma on vocals and drums respectively. There are a few different bass players Brian recruits, for touring, but Dan Lutz is handling bass duties on "Looking In The Eye Of The World". Featuring thirteen tracks and clocking at just over 70 minutes, this is a rather ambitious release.

The disc opens with the short, mood setting “Happy Overture”. The keyboards are funky, while the entire band remains in a subdued groove.

Savannah displays a versatile singing through the disc, from smooth cooing of “Butterfly” to the raspier, sensual approach which she uses effectively on a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man”.

Much of the disc veers between jazzy funk and funky jazz, as has been Brian Auger’s style for many years. The tight arrangements sometimes sound reminiscent of the Kudu record label’s seventies output. Brian’s organ playing is still funky, and a lot of the riffs he casually drops over the course of "Looking In The Eye Of The World" would work well as hip hop samples.

“Meet Mr. Eddie” features Brian cutting loose on another keyboard excursion, using various effects while he maintains his steady Hammond B3 groove.

Savannah sings the often covered “Light My Fire” in a sultry, soulful vein which is complemented buy the restrained but still swinging arrangement. “Season of the Witch”, a song Brian covered in the late sixties with the singer Julie Driscoll, features Brian and the band playing the song somewhat differently while his daughter handles the vocals. It is a fine rendition, but it doesn’t render the Julie Driscoll version obsolete.

Bass player Dan Lutz gets to strut, in measured doses, on cuts like “The Night Town” and particularly on a track called simply “Soundcheck”. It has the feel of a live jam, but it certainly doesn’t sound like any mere sound check. The bass playing and drumming are tightly intertwined through much of this disc, which was produced by Brian Auger’s son and drummer Karma.

Despite the strong playing throughout "Looking In The Eye Of The World", it seems to run a little longer than necessary. If the disc was edited down to just under an hour, it would make a livelier c.d. and a fine record as well. Given how many of Brian’s younger fans are actually interested in vinyl records, this market deserves to be considered. Nonetheless, "Looking In The Eye Of The World" is a fine c.d. which works well as low intensity party music, or as something to play for a subdued mood.

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