Saturday, May 21, 2016

Gary Boyle - 1977 - The Dancer

Gary Boyle 
The Dancer

01. Cowshed Shuffle
02. The Dancer
03. Now That We're Alone
04. Lullaby for a Sleepy Dormouse
05. Almond Burfi
06. Pendle Mist
07. Apple Crumble
08. Maiden Voyage

Rod Argent / Keyboards
Gary Boyle / Guitar
Simon Phillips / Drums
Doni Harvey / Bass
Zoe Kronberger / Keyboards
Robin Lumley / Keyboards
Dave McCrae / Keyboards
Maggie Pert / Vocals
Morris Pert / Percussion
Jeff Seopardie / Drums
Steve Shone / Bass

One of British jazz-rock scene's central figure, GARY BOYLE is a well-known guitarist that made his first appearances alongside Hammond wizard BRIAN AUGER in the last days of the TRINITY line-up, namely the excellent (and proggiest) album Befour. After assisting the very strange flolkish act of DOGGERELL BANK, but will also appear in the realm of STOMU YAMASHTA's experimental fusion in the EAST WIND formation, alongside SOFT MACHINE's Hugh Hopper, just to name one.

GARY BOYLE will form his own jazz-rock band ISOTOPE, in which will transit stalwart bassists like Jeff Clyne and (again) Hugh Hopper. The group will last the time of three good studio album, joined by a couple posthumous BBC Tapes releases, but eventually the group folded, party due to an exceeding offer and an over-abundance of talents in that time frame. Indeed Isotope never managed to make enough elbow space to be

So after the folding of ISOTOPE, GARY BOYLE opened in 77 a jazz/fusion solo career with the well-esteemed ''Dancer'' album and its follow-up ''Electric Glide'' and a few more until the early to mid-80s, before more or less disappearing from the recording scene, at least under his own name. He will make a relatively good come back in the first part of the 90s and release irregularly some studio albums, the last dating from 2005.

Sometimes I like to remind myself that I have more patience than a mega-hospital (pun intended!). Another of those highly abused vinyls (this one being a canary yellow pressing!) in my collection and I have been waiting , waiting and waiting for years to see this in CD form, as it possesses a mythical attraction that is quite unexplainable. Of course being an unashamed fan of Isotope certainly helps in all the self-imposed adulation I exert towards this unique solo debut from the Irish guitarist. 'The Dancer', won the 1978 Montreux Jazz/Pop Award, which may mean something to some.
Back in the early 70s there was something extremely attractive when Brits attempted jazz with such luminary giants as the Soft Machine, Caravan, Ian Carr's Nucleus, Brian Auger, Brand X, Colosseum II, National Health, Hatfield and the North etc?. Something about their quirky sound, the mischievous lyrics and of course, that delightful tongue slammed in cheek sense of humor. Toss in some scintillating technical prowess and voila! Hooked for life!

Keyboard whiz Rod Argent, the amazing drummeister Simon Phillips, the fluid Steve Shone on bass , Automatic Man's Doni Harvey , Caravan's Dave McCrae as well as some Brand X members (Lumley, Pert) provide the support crew for Boyle, whose style is in the profound Mahavishnu crenel and unabashedly so. The deluge of notes is enough to send most Malmsteen fans to the showers, a sonic blitzkrieg that is spell-binding. On "Cowshed Shuffle" , little time is wasted to blow your speakers sideways , providing some meteoric performances from Simon (darn is he good!) , with Doni's funky-jazz bass yo-yoing in and out while Rod Argent's bubbly Mini-Moog duels with Boyle's ardent guitar (playing with my words again!) . Thrill seekers will love the shining Steve Shone bass and Jeff Seopardie drum interplay on the title track, another torrid sonic troika between Macrae's stupendous clavinet, Zoe Kronberger's various keys and Boyle's fulminating guitar. "Lullaby For a Sleepy Doormouse" is pure aural velvet, with more sultry fretless bass from Shone and some sparkling acoustic guitar fingering from the mad Irishman while "Almond Burfi" provides the more raucous, electric guitar-led continuation. If you have any doubts that this man can play, well check out his technique, my goodness! "Pendle Mist" has the Harvey/Phillips duo leading the misty charge, Boyle's towering acoustic guitar crisply raffling among the sinuous e-piano musings (Lumley), gradually spiraling into a hypnotic jewel that stands the test of time. "Apple Crumble" is raunch revisted , this time featuring a Dave Macrae performance on e- piano and an ARP synthesizer solo for the ages, while Harvey tortures his four string stick , leering at the mach II drumming of Phillips . What does Gary do? Well, he lays down a perverted axe solo, all speed and seduction. The set ends on my favorite track, "Maiden Voyage ?For Brian Auger", a piece written by no other than Herbie Hancock and has that laid-back confident shimmer that makes this such an audio delight. Playful, intelligent, technically supreme but highly charged in emotional content. When jazz-rock is performed so eloquently, how can one not be inspired?

This was a masterpiece in 1978 and it remains one today, a simply superlative performance that all jazz-prog fusion fans need to hear and witness to believe.

Find it and get it NOW



  2. I know Boyle from the first 2 'Isotope' albums and though I have seen his solo releases many times over the years I have not heard any of them. Tonight I will! Many thanks.