Sunday, November 12, 2017

Riff Tricks – The Instrumentals Vol. 1 (2017), by Gizmodrome

This is basically the same album as the official self-titled release, but without the main vocals and featuring some slightly different versions, a couple of live tracks, and guest vocals on one song.

The removal of vocals for the most part gives the record the advantage of focusing on the high-level instrumental prowess of the four musical giants involved, namely Adrian Belew on guitar, Mark King on bass, Vittorio Cosma on keyboards, and grand master Stewart Copeland on drums.

The generally rigid structure of the compositions indicates that they were designed more as “playing for singing rather than playing for playing” (shout out to Roger Low!). Regardless, the music is energetic and exhilarating, and the players still manage to let loose even within the confines of the arrangements.

In addition to being a great companion to the regular album and a satisfying alternative for those who would prefer instrumental versions, this is as fine an example of forward-thinking progressive rock as any.

--Raj Manoharan

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