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Here we have the latest EP by Italian group Metronhomme, following on from their excellent album, ‘4’, which was released in 2019. There are no guests this time around, so the line-up is Mirko Galli (bass, pedal synth), Tommaso Lambertucci (piano, synth and vocals), Andrea Lazzaro Ghezzi (percussion) and Marco Poloni (guitars, maschine and vocals). They stress that all the percussion was physically played by Andrea, and there is no drum machine, but given they feel the need to explain that, one can imagine what it actually sounds like. Written and recorded during lockdown, each member of the band worked on their individual areas using whatever they had to hand, given that they could not get to their rehearsal space, which may somewhat explain the percussion. There is a definite feeling of separation within these seven numbers, which are mostly instrumental, and there are times when it really hits home, and that separation becomes something deep and meaningful. But there are others when it feels somewhat lightweight and unfinished. This is not assisted by some of the keyboard sounds being utilized which can come across as what one would hear from arcade video machines back in the early Eighties. But there are some strong melodies here as well, and one wishes that the guitar had been utilized more than it had as when it comes more to the fore then the music does become more interesting and dynamic. Recording in isolation is hard, and their EP should be seen for what it is, four musicians needing to flex their musical muscles and having no other opportunity to do so. The situation in Italy was horrific back in the early days of the pandemic and speaking to some friends up there I know what they were going through, so while this EP does not really resonate with me, I can only imagine the circumstances under which it was recorded. I thoroughly enjoyed their next album and am still looking forward to the next one with keen interest. 6/10
Unlike some of the other live albums released recently, this is not a new album but rather a reissue, recorded on June 21st, 2002, at the Navy Pier / Skyline Stage in Chicago (the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, hence the title). Joining Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom was founder member Allen Lanier on keyboards, guitar, and vocals, plus Bobby Rondinelli (drums, percussion) and Danny Miranda (bass, vocals). Although Danny left the band for a period, he re-joined in 2017 after the departure of Kasim Sulton and is still there today. Half of the songs on this set can also be found on the ‘Rock of Ages’ set but given there were no studio albums in between the two perhaps that is not surprising. This set captures a band at the top of their game, having loads of fun and delivering exactly what the crowd wants, and I for one am especially pleased to see “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll”, an absolute staple of the band’s. Hard to think that on this recording, nearly 20 years ago, it was already 20 years old (and is often cited as the inspiration for the artwork on Kiss’s ‘Destroyer’). That and Buck’s instrumental “Buck’s Boogie” are the only songs from ‘On Your Feet Or On Your Knees’ included in this set, which just shows the wealth of material they had available. Interestingly, although ‘Curse of the Hidden Mirror’ was released just the year before, this album does not contain any of those songs, which may have something to do with the sales that album achieved. Both this and ‘Rock Of Ages’ show a band in fine form, and both feature great sound and production, and it is hard to choose between the two. I may just prefer the other album because of the setlist, but for any fan both are essential.
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