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Montrose

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★★★★★
(101 Reviews)

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  • With this album, Ronnie Montrose, Sammy Hagar and Ted Templeton crystalized a sound which would drive the Los Angeles Rock ‘n Roll Studio Scene for decades. Although other bands, most notably, Van Halen, were able to make more of a commercial success of the formula, the concoction first jelled here in 1973. It is telling that both Templeton and Hagar participated in Eddie Van Halen’s band. Further, every song on this CD still receives airplay. Finally, I am hard pressed to think of a significant improvement or variation developed by the LA Bands which faltered in filling these footsteps. At the risk of being redundant by writing about songs which everyone with an FM radio has memorized, there are some subtle aspects of this CD which deserve attention. First, the production is clean and precise. There is quite a bit of aural distance between the musicians. Sammy is front and center, with Montrose on the extremes of stereo sound. This is trademark Templeton, and he used this same approach with the Eagles, Doobie Brothers, and of course, Van Halen. Sammy would mature a lot over the years, improving his vocal abilities along the way, even so, he already has all of the elements of a great singer. ROCK CANDY is a classic in large part because Sammy can hold his own against a heavy rhythm section. Please listen to the way he elongates the opening phrases. First word echos with a whole lot of love; there is real yearning in “need”, and by the time you look to those above you, you’re ready for the guitar break, so you can catch your breath. Naturally, this is a Ronnie Montrose album and he is the star of every song. What technique has been overlooked, I don’t know. In play list order: 1. multi-track guitars at octave intervals; 2. best motorcycle sound by an untreated guitar, with panning, no less; 3. multi-multi track guitars with Hendrix-style backward guitar; 4. heavy riffing. [side two] 5. hammer-on pull-off speed solo; 6. delayed guitar, more heavy riffing, more and more multi-tracking; 7. phase shift guitar; 8. doubled guitar (not duplicated guitar, two tracks of the same chords played on two different guitars, by one guitarist). All this would be mere gimmicks if it weren’t for the manual dexterity, intonation and tone which Ronnie Montrose achieves. This all amounts to more studio time than most other guitarist at that time were devoting to two albums. By the mid-eighties, it was a prerequisite. If you are interested in owning the music you keep hearing on the radio, or if you are interested in the beginnings of the Los Angeles Rock ‘n Roll Studio scene, this CD will be interesting to you.

    Posted on December 10, 2009