on 21 July 2011
This is a bit of a challenge; one disc - split into 2 "volumes"; volume 1 is 6 studio tracks, volume 2 is 9 live.
Looking first at the live tracks, can almost exclude the 1 minute "Helios" intro but from the start of "One Foot In The Grave" to the close of "She's So Heavy" Phil and the gang give it the full beans. "Powerful Thing" - does what it says on the tin. "Slipaway", for me is the weakest "live" take, it's heavy, but it plods a bit too long before there's a slight shift in the bass riff, one of the best 5-finger vibratos I've heard for a while then he's off like his hair's on fire. That would almost compensate for the plodding, but the vocals a touch too close to Glenn Hughes, again, personal taste. "Alchemy" rescues the situation showing a more "delicate" side, but technically brilliant and fires things up for "Take You Away". "Angels Live Inside", good, then the 60's pastiche that is "Cinnamon Girl", very Donovan-esque. Rounding off with "She's So Heavy" with a riff Tony Iommi would be proud of. Drawbacks? Well, personal taste aside, the tracks are excellent but maybe not enough from Innerevolution. I'm taking it the tracks were drawn from his support spot with Deep Purple last year, and maybe songs like "Scars" were dropped from the set compared with his headlining tour in the UK, certainly the blues standard he did isn't present.
That brings us to "Volume 1". Opening is an anthemic, stomping duet with the ol' boss Melissa Etheridge, "Let The Love In". Next up, "Set Us Free", had he lived another couple of decades, this is the sort of track Hendrix would have done collaborating with Jeff Beck. "Daydream Tonight" is a slice of pure West Coast, a "live" studio take. "King of New Mexico" starts with a thundering drum opening, and monster riff, but goes nowhere for too long. "Were You There" (When They Crucified My Lord) is stripped of its gospel roots making it an interesting take. Title track, "Ruby Electric" should have been the length "King of NM" is. It just gets going something interesting, then stops. Sad thing is, NONE of these tracks are new - you can trace them back to a little known, earlier album, "Silver Wheel Of The Stars", which Sayce has plundered previously for Peace Machine and Innerevolution. (Actually, there's one track left from this source he hasn't reused, "Do You Believe".) I don't even think these have been re-recorded, but remastered at least.
In essence, this could have been so much more, but maybe for financial reasons Provogue held back: Even the packaging is disappointing - very hard to read. For me, a totally "live" album, with the extra Innerevolution songs and the studio tracks from the "lost" Silver Wheels album as a bonus disc would have been the optimal issue. As it stands, a bloody good album, especially if you haven't heard Philip Sayce "live" and unrestrained but a missed opportunity to be a great album. I don't like being critical, especially when it's someone I admire, but there's a time for tough love.