Recording of January 1991: 1990 Aragon Jam Sessions
Anthony Federici, Michael Fremer, Roland Marconi, Bob Reina, Paul Rosenberg, Rob Sample, vocals; Frank Doris, Steve Harris, Roland Marconi, Paul Rosenberg, guitars; Elliot Kallen, Bob Reina, keyboards; John Atkinson, bass; Allen Perkins, Neil Sinclair, drums
Bainbridge GMS-1 (CD only). PJ Littleton, Michael Kusiak, Jr., engs.; PJ Littleton, Paul Rosenberg, prods. Recorded live with direct feed to the Colossus Digital Audio System from a single MS-4 surround 4-channel microphone. DDD. TT: 71:42
"Yahadtabethere" is the copout most reviewers employ when they're lucky enough to have attended the gig on the LP or CD under review. I'm not going to rub your noses in it, because that might cost this CD even one sale, and it deserves to go triple platinum. And for a number of reasons, the first not even related to music or sound.
The profits from this CD go to MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Bainbridge's Harlene Marshall suffered a tragedy because some asshole didn't believe that gasoline and booze make a lousy cocktail, so she's the prime mover for this charitable effort. It's one that we should all support.
Enter the wild'n'crazy guys from Aragon, who decided that the money normally spent paying for a room at CES would be better spend on a party. Who could disagree? Imagine if all 1400 exhibitors felt that way? It'd make for a great CES... Anyway, Tony Federici and Paul Rosenberg figured that live entertainment was mandatory, but what artists? McCartney and the Stones were already committed, Betty Boo didn't yet exist, and the assembled guestsall from the hi-fi industrywouldn't get down without a reason.
And so, for one night only, the Glasnost Mondial Supergroup was formed, consisting of hi-fi journalists putting their cred on the line. Talk about calling their bluff. Augmented by a couple of manufacturers, the group went from its first-ever practice to the debut gig in four hours...and they were wonderful. Okay, so they were all thirtysomethings with a jazz/blues fetish (as proven by the track listing), but they cooked. All rivalries were buried as writers and editors from The Absolute Sound, Sounds Like..., Stereophile, and Hi-Fi News & Record Review got together to amuse their colleagues and make money for a good cause. The eventJune 34, 1990 at Chicago's Moscow At Nightwas recorded and released as this CD, and it's a killer.
The music? You could have been at any of a thousand frat parties where the band had good taste, a British rhythm section, a compere with a great sense of humor (yo! Mikey!) and few inhibitions. Some of the highlights were Rob Sample's mind-blowing vocals on "Hoochie Coochie Man," JA's bass playing (described by Steve Harris as "awesome"), Neil Sinclair's stint on drums (who'd've believed that a laid-back Californian could cook?), and Frank Doris's guitar work. Yeah, Frank was the man of the evening, fer sher.
The sound? Stupendous. Liver'n'you'll ever be. A masterful case of triumph over adversity. A sonic spectacular. Four-star.
Listen: the music and the sound are bonuses. The reality is that Neanderthals are out there killing people with their cars because they drive while tanked. Give a donation to MADD-LA and receive a copy of the most enjoyable recording ever released for a good cause. [This offer has long since expiredEd.] Geldof: eat your heart out.Ken Kessler