Purple Pyramid 2017
On the way to a world that others might have missed, American guitarist returns to the garden.
Not a household name he deserves to be, Mike Pinera has left an indelible trace on the face of classic rock. Still at it five decades down the line, the veteran doesn’t only adding to that streak but also constantly tries to reinvent it. “Timeless” may not be his first attempt to refresh the past and bring old songs to present tense, then, yet this album is most impressive in taking familiar pieces – those the artist wrote for BLUES IMAGE many years ago and those he composed afterwards – out of temporal context by wrapping them in multi-dimensional arrangements.
The colorful enrichment, or expansion, of original scope is never more obvious than on the band’s signature song “Ride Captain Ride” which, elevated by string section and winds to heavenly heights and elegantly elongated, becomes a magic vessel for the record to sail on to glorified eternity without losing its edge. It’s trembling with excitement on the more obscure numbers such as the now-shortened, for the greater effect, and given a bass solo, “Butterfly Bleu”: an IRON BUTTERFLY number the guitarist played on. Of course, there are “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” that he didn’t cut way back then, and “In The Garden Of Eden” – Mike’s later update of the epic – to try and steal the listener’s attention, although Pinera infused those with innocent innuendos like a quote of Bach’s Toccata in D minor on the former, whose organ part had borne this influence from the beginning, while his searing guitar makes it all soar over the Fugue and further on.
Up there, the transparent, Santana-esque “Fantasy Of Love” is fluttering gently in Latino-textured skies, through electrical clouds as opposed to “Come Back” and their acoustically laced silver lining. Jonathan Cain’s ivories increase immersive tribal swirl of “Love Is The Answer” and Pat Travers’ axe helps chop the riff of “Pay My Dues” with a powerful groove, but it’s always their host’s deep feelings which move it all and adorn romantic “Isla” with orchestral drama and operatic, soulful vocals and “Something To Say” with a swinging, spirited abandon. This is the quality that takes Mike Pinera’s oeuvre out of time and delightful in any season.