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Brian Auger: Live Oblivion, Vol. 2

Album Notes

The second half of Live Oblivion, which showcases the Oblivion Express as they went through a couple of different drummers in 1974, reveals the sound of a band in full command of their genre-traversing power. Brian Auger on keyboards -- most notably the Fender Rhodes piano and Hammond B3 -- guitarists Jack Mills and Alex Ligertwood, and bassist Barry Dean, had already been together for a few years before these two Los Angeles shows, and the completely comfortable, née instinctual rapport between them is readily apparent. The set kicks off with a wonderfully limpid read of Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage." Auger's Rhodes pianism is striking here as he deals out his own ostinato with sparing delicacy, close attention to groove, and a flair for auto-contrapuntalism. Ligertwood's chord voicings are very large and accommodating, and the rhythm through the first half of the cut is in the pocket, laid-back, and nearly hypnotic as choruses rise and fall. The track splits in the middle, and Mills covers Auger's comping with phased-out lead guitar that touches upon both blues and jazz in its wandering manner. The version of "Second Wind" here is one of the finer ones ever recorded, as it burns from the first riff and turns in on itself rhythmically and harmonically twice in six minutes. But the cake topper is the Oblivion Express' version of "Inner City Blues" that makes the entire tune a funk-jazz rave-up, with deep in-the-cut grooves, syncopated backbeats, and a hypnotically hyperactive bassline. This is a worthy companion to Live Oblivion, Vol. 1, and why they were separated into two discs is beyond reason. Highly recommended. ~ Thom Jurek


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