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COLIN HODGKINSON Backdoor Too! ROK 8013 CD(2008)

Backdoor Too!

While the Colin Hodgkinson Group might not be the latest de facto version of Back Door as partly suggested by the title 'Back Door Too!', the same instrumental line-up and driving force of Hodgkinson himself suggest this is the latest step in reaffirming the trio's musical lineage. And while this album is a worthy addition to the Back Door canon - the musicianship is excellent and the composition work fine - like many of their 70's contemporaries, 'Backdoor Too' mines a musical genre whose time has gone.

The trio reveal their true jazz hand on 'Bob the Bird', two thirds of the way through the CD. And you would have thought that much of what has gone before would stand out as a beacon of improvisation and experimentation.

The truth is that where the original Back Door's strengths was both of the above, too much of the material here is little more than competent blowing. This was a band who all those years ago eschewed both guitar and keyboards as a front line instrument with Colin making a name for himself by taking the leads on bass. But this album is dominated by Rod Mason's sinewy range of saxes and while he imaginatively explores a wide range of tones and melody lines on impressive outings such as 'The Bed Creaks Louder' - co written by the late Ron Asprey - and 'Like You Do' on which his meandering sax lines teases out a theme, there's not enough light and shade to drag the whole album onto a higher level.

That said there are moments of real beauty as on the suitably titled up tempo 'Pacesetter'. But even here the hard hitting piece, notable for Hodgkinson's prevalent bass lines and some high register tones from Mason, is unceremoniously sidelined by an unnecessary drum solo. The mid-range sax tone gets a bit wearing on 'Dear Arthetha' though there are nice blues nuances to the piece and Colin does have the sense to finish some abrasive collective blowing with a gentle solo bass outro. Overall, 'Backdoor Too!' achieves the musical s tandards you would expect, but its almost ironic to reflect on the fact that its over 30 years since Stanley Clarke revolutionised the bass as a lead instrument, an act that Colin himself have more than some claim on.

The trouble is that with an album like this he continues to hide his talent under a bushel.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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