Tony Levin: Stick Man
Tony Levin – stick, basses, cello, vocals, and misc.
Pat Mastelotto – drums & percussion
Scott Schorr – keyboards, drums, percussion
Chris Albers – guitar
Tim Dow – drums
When I last went to see California Guitar Trio, Tony Levin just happened to be with the guys for that show. He also had his new CD available for sale. So, along with the recording of that night’s CGT performance, I got a signed copy of “Stick Man” (he is also such a nice man, that he told me I didn’t look old enough to have seen him with Peter Gabriel back in 1982).
Tony is best known as a kind of musical mercenary. Is there anyone he hasn’t played with? If there is, I sure he has plans to correct any omission. So what does he do when it’s just him? I had heard some samples of other albums, but never had an entire Tony Levin CD. From what I had heard, I was expecting world music, or jazz-fusion. Well, it was something completely different. The best way to explain is that Tony seems to have been missing King Crimson. To me, this is what they would sound like if Tony Levin ever took the reigns over from Robert Fripp. Much of it is in a heavy avant style, still with a bit of jazz flavor, and some precision, rapid fire drumming. There are some vocals (done by Mr. Levin), but it is mostly instrumental.
There are some heavy-duty jam outs, slow grooves, fun stuff, and even a touch of some classic new wave sounds (ala Eno/Talking Heads). Some of it is even reminiscent of more current Jeff Beck work. He gets a little help from a few friends, but it is mostly Tony on his famous stick, and a drummer. What that man can do with that instrument is just incredible, but you probably already know that. Whether he is creating atmosphere, or using it for a lead guitar riff, it is all masterfully done. This album is satisfying on every level, and I highly recommend it.
I would love to call “Stick Man” essential, but alas I just don’t see it as a true masterpiece. However, I still think you would be doing yourself a disservice by staying away from it.