Album review: REB BEACH – A View From The Inside

REB BEACH – A View From The Inside

Frontiers Records [Release date 12.11.20]

Reb Beach’s (Winger/Whitesnake) choice of musicians with whose help he recorded “A View From The Inside” is revealing: David Throckmorton, primarily known as a jazz drummer, especially for Maynard Ferguson; bassman Philip Bynoe worked extensively with Steve Vai and Mike (Dream Theater) Mangini, and is always in demand; Paul Brown, award winning Hammond B3 soulman, has worked with artists as varied as The Waterboys, Rush and George Clinton.

So you’re thinking that considering such a diversity of musicians, we should brace ourselves for some post-modern axe freakout, full of sonic improvisation.

Well no, not quite. As a student of Steve (Dixie Dregs) Morse, Beach’s music has always been a mix of the visceral and the lyrical, with some moody introspection thrown in. Always with a purpose, none of this “look ma, no taste” shredding, no flurries of meaningless notes, no headlong rush down a cul-de-sac.

In case we’re in any doubt, he hits the solo ground spinning that old ‘Black Magic’, wearing his heart on his fretboard, his hands a tuneful blur. Then the band makes its influence felt. The notebending, uptown funk of ‘Little Robots’ and ‘Aurora Borealis’, and the jazzy blues of ‘Hawkdance’ bring a more contemporary sound to the music, despite those traditional musical forms having a rich pre-rock history.

Beach continues to fuse traditional compositional styles on the clanging funk rhythms of ‘The Way Home’ and the proggy, white boy soul of ‘Attack Of The Massive’. Throck’s and Bynoe’s solid, syncopated rhythms form the bedrock of this and indeed all of the material here, as Beach deploys powerful images and memorable melodies with absolute precision.

‘Infinitum’ and ‘Sea Of Tranquility’ are probably the most commercial, accessible tracks on the album. One with Beach’s remarkably lean yet eminently anthemic axework soaring above a piston pumping groove. The other a chilled, sparse, piano and guitar duet that rises above sentimentality, to make the kind of emotional connection that only great musicians can make. ****1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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