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The Rick Ray Band - 2017 - "Killing Time"

(76:57; Neurosis Records)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Killing Time 7:00
2. Hologram 4:42
3. Hurry up and Wait 5:24
4. Credits Will Roll 3:45
5. Hypnotic Spell 4:49
6. I Want to Hold Your Hand Grenade 6:36
7. Stand in Line 4:59
8. End of the Day 5:44
9. Rock N Rolex 5:04
10. Momentary Realm 5:42
11. I'm Just Looking 5:40
12. No More 6:24
13. Am I Talking to Me 5:01
14. Unspeakable Words 6:07


Rick Ray - vocals, guitars, bass, synthesizers
Rick Schultz - saxophone, clarinet, synthesizers
Al LeDonne - drums

Prolusion. US unit The Rick Ray Band have been a stalwart presence in the US rock scene for the better part of 3 decades, with the main man Rick Ray having an active history as a musician going back to the 1970's. But starting at the end of the 1990's The Rick Ray became a going concern, and at the time of writing they have a release history of close to 40 albums all and sundry. The album "Killing Time" dates back to 2017, and was released through the band's own label Neurosis Records.

Analysis. The Rick Ray Band define themselves as a Psychedelic Progressive Hard Rock Fusion band, and while they do include some elements of everything this statement indicates, for my sake I feel that hard rock and possibly even rock alone is the main defining feature here. But with many additional facets being a part of the totality of course, there is a reason why this band in live settings have opened for artists as different as Allan Holdsworth and Sanctuary. On this particular album we get songs that do come in a few different shapes. We have one-off cuts such as 'Hurry Up and Wait' that operate inside of a power pop general framework but with a little bit of progressive rock flavoring, and then we have a set of songs that are a bit harder to describe other than having more of a classic rock and hard rock base with some jazz and some psychedelic tendencies. But the majority of the compositions here are of a kind and nature that for me at least appears to be much easier to place inside a specific context. These songs all operate inside of a classic rock and hard rock framework, many of them with a solid bass pumping the songs forward and the good, old boogie style hard rock as the engine of the song. Liberal arrays of saxophone overlays is a defining feature of these songs, performed and executed in a manner reminiscent of Nik Turner era Hawkwind. In between the saxophone solo runs we usually get a more flowing guitar solo too, often with a bit of a bluesy undercurrent but also with vibes of the kind that reminds me of jam bands as well as aforementioned Hawkwind. With an instance or two of the songs also having a bit more of a Hawkwind and space rock feel to them overall, with "Astounding Sounds" era Hawkwind as the reference point here. In some ways this album might be described as Hawkwind without the space rock and with a more straightforward style, attitude and execution. Where the progressive elements have been replaced with more of a jam band feel, the punk rock undercurrents have been given a boogie makeover while Turner's saxophone antics have been retained.

Conclusion. The Rick Ray Band as of 2017 comes across as a rural and down to Earth counterpart of a band like Hawkwind. Expressive saxophone overlays and solo runs is the element in the middle that connects the two bands, where The Rick Ray Band is very much Earthbound while Hawkwind have an outer space existence. Or to describe this in a different manner: This is a production that explores a variety of classic rock with tendencies towards hard rock and jam bands with a dark, expressive saxophone presence adding a psychedelic presence to the landscapes explored. For those who find any of those descriptions compelling, this album should be an interesting experience.

Progmessor: February 2023
The Rating Room

Related Links:

The Rick Ray Band


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