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Gamma 1

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  • Finally, for fans of Ronnie Montrose and Gamma, GAMMA 1 is available on CD! Up till now, the only offering has been ‘The Best of Gamma’, a good- but not great- compilation of selected songs off Gammas 1, 2, and 3. All of GAMMA 1 except for two songs were included. Those two songs are ‘Solar Heat/Ready for Action’, and ‘No Tears’. Ironically, those are two of my favorite Gamma songs anywhere.Anybody familiar with Ronnie’s earlier ’solo’ work, especially with Sammy Hagar as the frontman really ought to check out this overlooked band. Ronnie’s trademark, lean, mean, distinctive guitar tone is there as usual, but GAMMA added the additional layers of synthesizers, tastefully served up by Jim Alcivar. Perhaps one of the greatest contributions to rock music made by this band, however, was…the discovery of vocalist Davey Pattison. This guy has a terrific, gravelly set of pipes, and was an absolutely undiscovered gem of a find for Ronnie Montrose and Rock ‘n’ Roll in general. Although Davey has since gone on to concentrate more on blues and do solo work and gigs in the SF area… his voice was also ideal for the excellent hard rock served up here.The original track order is:1. Thunder and Lightning: great rock song, with Davey’s flashing, barely controlled angry vocals and tons of Ronnie’s distinctive guitar tone. Above it all floats a constant, light synth tone. Lots and lots of flavor!2. I’m Alive: the lone top-40 hit, even this surging, upbeat song has tons of Ronnie tone. It’s progressive hard rock, but in love. 3. Razor King: dark and brooding, this song is a bit longer, more a moody ‘tale’ of sorts, interspersed rocking riffs with passages of quiet synths.. with Davey’s vocal expressiveness highlighted magnificently. Many, many songs, groups, and albums of listening later, and I still haven’t come across another song quite like this one. It’s that unique. 4. No Tears: left off ‘the Best of’, but it’s still one of the great ones. I believe it’s actually a cover that was written by somebody else. The one ’sad’ song on the album, it’s still upbeat and probably the song to most prominently feature the synth.5/6. Solar Heat/Ready for Action: while Solar Heat is truly the calm before the storm, consisting mainly of synth noises and quiet sounds, Ready for Action is the real rocker on this set. Unconscionable that it was left of ‘the Best of’, this song ROCKS! It’s relentless and fast, and it’s brutal pace and truly aggressive vibe is only stirred to a fever pitch by Davey’s mean, stunning vocals. God, I love this song. And anyone who loves Montrose or Gamma would love it too!7. Wish I Was: this is the one bluesy, melancholy number that forebode Davey’s move into the blues. Then again, with the vocal chops he displays on this one, I wouldn’t be surprised if this cut was his idea! This song is the one that most highlights the excellent contribution of Davey Pattison. Ronnie gets in some really expressive licks here, too. 8. Fight to the Finish: This is another aggressive rocker and the longest song on the album, and it combines many of different above elements in the same song. Not a straight-ahead rocker like ‘Thunder and Lightning’ or ‘Ready for Action’, it’s something perhaps of a concept piece in the vein of ‘Razor King’, with distinct movements and wider dynamic swings from quiet passages to storming, all-out riffing assault. Actually, there are really only seven songs here, and GAMMA 1 doesn’t clock out to a total of much more than 35 minutes or so. Back in the early 80’s and the vinyl standard, this was more normal than it is nowadays. But when it’s all this good, who cares? GAMMA works well as a whole album, and the songs were extremely well chosen. It is far from a monotonous record, while still offering great tracks and no filler. I’ve already bought mine. Gamma and Montrose fans, this is a must for any collector of good 80’s hard rock!

    Posted on December 19, 2009