Dick’s Picks: ‘Spectrum’ Billy Cobham much-sampled spacey, jazz-fusion vinyl LP

Dick’s Picks: Little known (but heavily sampled!) ’70s jazz fusion banger from Billy Cobham

BILLY COBHAM Spectrum: Debut 1974 UK 6-track LP on the green & orange Atlantic label, including the fusion classics, Quadrant 4 & Stratus, housed in the US pressed gatefold pasted picture sleeve, more info here

Billy Who?

Tut, tut – weren’t you paying attention in jazz fusion class? Hailing from Panama, the mighty sticksman Cobham first came to prominence as one part of Miles Davis ever-shifting line-ups before joining the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early ’70s – drum-wise, he is renowned for his hard-hitting style and pin-point precision.

Spectrum

Released in 1974, Spectrum was Cobham’s first solo venture. Heavily influenced by his work with Miles Davis, the album features a stellar jazz cast, Jan Hammer on keys/synths, future rocker Tommy Bolin (guitar), Joe Farrell (flute/saxes) and lest we forget Latin percussion legend Ray Barretto giving it some serious conga action throughout.

What’s it like?

Album opener ‘Quadrant 4′ stets the tone – rattling on at a dizzying pace, super-tight rhythm and incredible soloing from Jan Hammer and Tommy Bolin – Jeff Beck (who covered Stratus, more of which in a sec’ was definitely listening!).

Stratus

Opening the second side, the nine minute plus ‘Stratus’ is where the money’s at! The first three minutes evolve with synth washes, drum rolls, synth blips and more, then at the three minute mark…..

……if you’re a fan of Massive Attack you might well be thinking…mmmm, sounds familiar! Whatever your thoughts on the relative merits of sampling (theft or creativity?), you’ve got to admit (even if begrudgingly) they made great/clever use of the Cobham original – somehow crafting their own song from huge chunks of Billy Cobham & Co.’s original….

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