Unexpectedly flat anthology of OSIBISA axeman’s solo rise and flight.
There have been many adventures in this man’s life, and the presence of Sting and Billy Cobham on 2005’s “Together As One” – the only album to Gregg Brown’s name – may speak volumes of his artistry. Too bad the polyrhythmic delights of the Ghanaian’s path don’t seep through the lacquered veneer of what is said to be a collection of demos. As such, its saving grace is a handful of acoustic cuts which bare raw nerves underneath discotheque arrangements such as “Shadow” that focus on Brown’s vocals rather than playing, and nor for nothing there’s an electronically expanded snippet of “Tommy” as Gregg was a part of the rock opera’s London’s cast.
Tribal fervor and Gus Isidore’s strum are what’s spicing up “Open Up My Arms” and there’s a Latino poise in “Whisper In The Wind” where OSIBISA arrive en masse. But while a close juxtaposition of the unplugged and the groovy takes on “Freedom’s Ring” shows two distinctly different aspects of the same song, opening the 17-piece compilation with a plastic-like, cloying “Chasing Rainbows” can’t guarantee the listener will make it to “Perfect Rainbow” to share the artist’s personal quest. Yet whereas Rabbit Bundrick’s keyboard splashes and the vocals of Pauline Henry from THE CHIMES shine on “This Guy” with its economic riffs, “Tricky Situation,” enhanced with Dominic Miller’s lace, may be the most soulful and sincere ballad on display.
It’s a composition whose title should make one wish Gregg Kofi Brown encountered those positions more often to sing about them. But if they’re on the pages of his autobiography, rock ‘n’ roll & UFOs are absent from this CD.