Vince Clarke can claim involvement in two stunning debuts in only two years: Depeche Mode's Speak and Spell and Yaz's Upstairs at Eric's. While Speak and Spell is, by far, the more consistent record, Upstairs at Eric's is wholly more satisfying, beating the Depeche record on substance and ambition, and is light years ahead in emotion...
With all the projects Peter Brötzmann is currently working on, Full Blast – with the precise and dynamic Swiss rhythm section of Marino Pliakas and Michael Wertmüller – is the most consistent and the longest-running. Their fifth album finds the band in a studio again, with time and the desire to try something new. Seven compositions in the distinctive, strong Full Blast nature get an exciting electronic treatment by Michael Wertmüller (with electronics by Gerd Rische, recorded months before his death in October 2015) during and after the recording. For mixing the band decided to work with Gareth Jones (well-known for his work with Einstürzende Neubauten and Depeche Mode), whom they have used with Pliakas's band Steamboat Switzerland before. Full Blast have created an album that in its nonconformity and richness in variety stands on his own in contemporary jazz.
Featuring "Hummingbird" and "Summer Breeze"
Summer Breeze offered an unusually ambitious array of music within a soft rock context – most artists tried to avoid weighty subjects in such surroundings (except, of course, CSN or Simon & Garfunkel, who could pretty much get away with anything). The title track is one of those relentlessly appealing 1970s harmony-rock anthems, in the same mode as the Doobie Brothers' "Listen to the Music" and appropriately ubiquitous on the radio and in the memory; the guitar (electric and acoustic) and vocal hooks are all well-nigh irresistible. The rest varies in sound and focus.
An obscure album of jazzy funk, produced by Harvey Mason, with a similar feel to some of his own work on Arista during the late 70s. The album has vocals on a numbers of cuts, in kind of a part ensemble funk mode that doesn’t always work best for the group. Fortunately, there’s some great moments that change the groove a bit — like the mellow stepper “It’s You”, which features lead vocals by Stephanie Spruill — and the sublime instrumentals “Blackjack” and “Cinnamon”, both of which have a totally sweet jazzy groove that’s got a great warm polish to it!.