17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2003
From the opening, high-energy Quadrant right through to the totally laid back Red Baron, this is an album that must be listened to as a whole. It slowly changes from the one thing to the other, never failing to hit the right spot.
The openers to most of the tracks are right there too with some spine-tingling mood changes.
Let Spectrum lift you up into the clouds and bring you back with the gentleness of a feather.
Billy Cobham is simply brilliant, backing the whole thing up with his full range of abilities - drumming and composing.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I last heard Spectrum on an old audio-cassette on an FM-Radio-mono- Cassette player when i was a student.
Not only was this a great trip down memory lane, the sound and production was excellent - and the energy came through brilliantly.
It is hard to believe that Tommy Bolin here is the same guitarist that played with Deep Purple before his untimely death. The whole band is tight and inventive, and it sounds great.
It has to be one of the "must own" albums of the last 40 years, without this your collection or eduction is simply incomplete.
"Red Baron" still does it for me :-)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2001
From abstract percussion to heavy funk, this album is great. Of course, Cobham is a technically amazing drummer, but the tunes and grooves are up there too. You probably even know one of them already: Massive Attack sampled a bass line for their own "Blue Lines" album.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
During the early to mid 1970's ,an era when bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever where the big news amongst muso's and those of us who considered themselves discerning listeners, Billy Cobham and his various combos were rated as being at least a match them. Be it in terms of dynamism, technique and bravado, and even more importantly perhaps, distinctiveness of musical approach and standard of composition, Billy had it all going on at this time in his career. 'Spectrum' stands as a great reminder of his ability as a player, writer and band leader.
So,this is one great fusion album - unusually constant in the tune writing department:melody and thoughtful arrangement,not to say quirky and very much of its time, use of electronic effects, give this set its unique appeal as much as soloing power of the superstar personnel involved. 'Stratus' with its nagging bass riff is just one example of the quality of work here. But its not all thrash and flash, there are plenty of moody and attractive little funky pieces that give the album a welcome change of pace and atmosphere.Witness the rhapsodic 'To the Women in Life' and 'Le Lis' as proof of what I mean.Of course the playing is first rate, but as Tommy Bolin shows in his many solo's on the album , jazz -rock can involve feeling as well super speedy dispatching of scale after scale.But If you insist on looking for fusion madness, listen out for 'Quadrant 4, were the band, especially the hyperventilating keyboardist, Jan Hammer does his best to sound like an electric guitarist with his fast runs and note bending,go more then a little off the path of musical sanity.
A high recommended release then- excellent remastering, stylish packaging and informative sleevenotes make this a must-have for any lover of fusion.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2009
This album still sounds as fresh today as it did 30 years ago when i had it on vinyl. Tommy Bolin's guitar is inspired as is Jan's keyboards. The compositions are great and it is a great recording. Just check out Spectrum (Sampled by massive attack), It has to be one of the best bass lines ever!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2014
They call this album a classic of the "fusion" genre. I think labels were more important then - looking back, there was actually a lot of fusion around in the early 70's that wasn't called fusion. This album certainly defies simple description. The record has some amazing and unique music on it. It is very much "a moment in time": 4 musicians, all at the height of their game, feeding of each other to produce some razor sharp improvisation. It was also recorded with the minimum of fuss and over-dubbing - and with musicians like these, you don't need it! Alas, downsides of that moment in time are the 4 short tracks inter-dispersed amongst the gems that really are throw-away self-indulgences that littered so many albums of the early seventies. The sheer eclectic mix and quality of the main tracks is such however, that one can easily overlook and skip the 2 minute drum solo called "Anxiety", the electronic blips that are "Snoopy's search", or some nice phrases of piano music that fade out into nothing after 50 seconds or so.
The album explodes with "Quadrant": four minutes of storming double kick pedal from Billy Cobham and driving bass (from Lee Sklar), whilst Tommy Bolin and Jan Hammer trade solos and duet on guitar and moog, respectively. If you drive with this on, watch out for speed cameras!
"Spectrum" (title track) is a cooler jazzier number with flute and brass giving it a faintly Brazilian feel, with some nifty, subtle drumming from Cobham in the background. "Taurian Matador" gets back to the Moog sound from "Quadrant", but is a funkier groove.
Next up, "Stratus" is a true work of genius. Shift forward a few minutes in this piece and you have driving repetitive bass thundering along, again with Bolin and Hammer calling and responding with sheer beauty. And just when you think it's all over, it keeps going, and Hammer grinds in low range synth before the final climax.
"Le Lis" goes contrasts totally by going back into a slow, airy, summery sound with a flute sound doing the melody and Cobham giving a conga backing: probably the most serene track on the CD and, if your into 70's noise big time, this is one your partner will like. The final track on the original album (Red Baron) reminds me of Steely Dan, but really there are few parallels to the sounds on this record.
I scored this with 5 despite the silly tracks. Given the silly short indulgent tracks on the album, I might be tempted to advice to buy a compilation (eg Billy Cobham Chronology or Anthology has all the good tracks I mentioned above, without the flotsam and jetsam). I scored this with 5 despite the silly tracks. And you also get to hear more of Cobhams work: a stunning technical master of the drums, but also a great composer and band leader.
I have tried to describe this album: better get it though and see for yourself. If you are a rock or heavy jazz musician into "structured" improvisation, this will not disappoint.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Billy Cobham's first solo album, and the best I've heard that he's ever done. Still part of the disintegrating Mahavishnu orchestra when he recorded it, Cobham carried forward the flame of jazz-rock that had been lit so powerfully by Miles Davis (and of course Cobham had played on Bitches Brew, Live Evil and Jack Johnson). I've had the vinyl of Spectrum since the week it came out and still listen to it.
Spectrum pulsates with alternating rhythms and structures, is bursting with energy, and has some excellent playing by Jan Hammer (also Mahavishnu) and Tommy Bolin, who for me at least was a revelation on the record (Smoke on the Water it ain't). Red Baron has become something of a modern standard, but Quadrant 4 and Spectrum maybe give a clearer idea of why Billy Cobham was such an influential drummer in the 1970s.
Incidentally, his fairly recent recording Art of Three with Kenny Baron and Ron Carter is a really good trio record - showing a different style of Cobham.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2011
Bought it on Vinyl years back and it has a lasting presence and is astounding in its sharpness, musical genius etc. Buy it if you like jazz..you can't really describe music...just have to trust your judgement, and trust the judgement of others, like myself!
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2008
I have had this album since vinyl and it is probably in my favorite ten or so. From memory Tommy Bolin is on guitar and Jan Hammer on keyboards. As a previous reviewer mentioned it should be listened to as a whole. There are however some searing exchanges that stand out between Hammer and Bolin with the opening track leaving me transfixed. The thing I like particularly about it is that even when dueling, the keyboard and guitar allow each other space and don't simply try to play faster. They slide gloriously from phrase to phrase and Bolin's chord work is stunning. The mood changes are lovely and Cobham's drumming both leads and cements the entire work together. I suspect they enjoyed making this album hugely and would pay again for the out takes....
on 9 October 2014
This is a fine album.