The Rick Ray Band- Violence marred by Peace
(Neurosis Music 2008)
From Aural Innovations May 2009 update
This is Rick’s 30+ release since 1999. He has slowed down to only one a year in the past few years but is still maintaining his signature sound and creativity. This is a record that really grows on you and I am totally in tune with the very potent and conscious lyrics that Rick writes (I am not actually 100% sure he writes all the lyrics as all songs are credited to everyone). This is a very good political commentary on the state of the world and the USA. The opening 9 track, Awake from Reality is a very horn dominated track with Rick Shultz laying down the Clarinet, sax and Oboe, and Gery plays trumpet and Trombone on the CD. Rick also gives up the vocals duties on two of the tracks (50 Thousand Volts and Matthew are sung by Alex Abraham, Fan the Flames is sung by bassist Jack Ambrose). Very nice solo at the end of the song. Sgt. Pepperspray has a really cool bass line as the track builds up with a good riff and special horn arrangement. You might detect a little Beatles influence in this but it is a dark track about being arrested by the police and Rick lays down a fantastic and tasteful guitar solo. The title track is next and features a high effected vocal that give sit quite a psychedelic feel. The horns also have this like distortion on them. Strange sound on this track. Fifty Thousand Volts returns to the sound production of the rest of the CD and features Alex on vocals and is not so horn oriented but you can hear Rick playing the Oboe or Clarinet. I really love the guitar solo on this track, a bit of Trower feeling in it but more speed. Among the Fire features some acoustic guitar and a long intro for this 10 minute track, which slowly builds, twists and turns and the choir of horns create the mood. Great trade off Sax and guitar solos on this track. Lunatic Serenade is instrumental and also starts off with acoustic guitars and is dominated by the horns. These guys play really tasteful and excellent stuff, but several times you will think you have heard them using that same horn line over and over again in some of the others songs. Strange end on this track. Matthew features Alex on lead vocal again. This track has a bit of a dark streak. Tribute to What’s his name is next. Guess who??? This track features some synthesizer droning while Rick lays down some killer guitar. Not sure who it is a tribute to actually, perhaps some God. I really liked the track. Fan the Flames ends this one hour CD and has a great bass line that starts directly out of the ass of the last track. There is some quite spacey guitar and a psychedelic beginning before the track returns to more standard Rick Ray territory and a very nice guitar section towards the end that reminds me a bit of Poppy by Frank Marino. Jack is singing this one. A highly creative and excellent record. Keep up the good work.
Check out the band and label web site at: http://the-rocker.netfirms.com/rickray.html
Reviewed by Scott Heller