Thursday, May 16, 2024

Battery Included: Billy Cobham 80

Billy Cobham - Antares

All right, it's time for a milestone birthday bash to snatch your cymbals right off their stands.

I've covered this guy before, but a heavy hitting hero such as he deserves additional glory.

He first broke into the public consciousness as one of the many drummers on some record called Bitches Brew, at the end of the swirling Sixties.

When next he was sighted, it was in 1971 behind the giant, see-through Fibes kit in a somewhat influential group called The Mahavishnu Orchestra.

These Mahavishnu guys were pretty popular, or so I am told. When they first came out, the lines went around the block, up the avenue and across the country and the world.

Musicians who caught them during this initial exposure were next to be found throwing their instruments into the nearest ocean.

After everyone fished their guitars and violins out of the large bodies of water, music changed and Fusion grew up. At least for a few years, until it got repetitive and too chopsy.

As any band is only as great as its drummer, it's needless to say that what this guy did at the backline of Mahavishnu made ten trillion other players immediately set about imitating it, to varying effect.

In 1973 the original TMO split up amid the usual hatreds and clashes. Then our hero started making equally-as-beloved solo platters and the rest, as they say, is hitstory.

It's really not an exaggeration to say it: there is drumming before Billy Cobham, and there's drumming after Billy Cobham.

It's almost like the difference between B&W and color TV.

Unimpeachably one of the fastest, grooviest, thunderous and most precise players ever to touch a stick, when you hear him at his finest you almost wonder why anyone else bothers.

Which brings us to some of the dude's most very finest, assembled into a colossal 2 hour and 40 minute masterclass by me from some of these illicit tapes Bill Graham recorded in secret back in the day, and are now for sale -- with wrong information, often inferior sound and dubious copyright -- by his monetaristic descendants.

Billy Cobham
The Bottom Line
New York City, NY USA

01 drum solo intro
02 Antares
03 AC/DC
04 Ayajala
05 BC talk incl. band introductions
06 Leeward Winds
07 On a Magic Carpet Ride/Stratus
08 La Guernica
09 La Guernica pt II incl. drum solo
10 Stratus
11 Antares/Puffnstuff incl. Stratus (reprise)

Total time: 2:40:54
disc breaks go after Tracks 04 & 07 (or Track 08 if you like)

Billy Cobham - drums, electronics & percussion
Mark Soskin - keyboards
Randy Jackson - bass
Ray Mouton - guitar
Charles Singleton - guitar 
Alvin Batiste - saxophones, clarinet, flute & percussion
everyone - vocals on PuffnStuff

320/48k webstreams from Wolfgang's Vault
spectral analysis is lossless past 20k, so essentially equivalent to a preFM source
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, assembled, repaired, tracked, denoised, edited & remastered -- with erroneous titles corrected -- by EN, May 2024
965 MB FLAC/direct link

These files they have streaming over there are 22 kinds of messed up, but when I work on them we see the spectral goes clean to 20 kHz, which is 5 kHz more than you get from, say, a France Musique DVB rebroadcast, and essentially equivalent to a preFM source... so why not, I ask? It took days and days to get this put together from the mistitled mess it was in, but then that's my job, right?

So Billy Cobham is 80, can you believe that? I hope this little bombshell of a set gets your weekend and beyond grooving properly, in accordance with the fiery Fusion filigree contained in its bits. It may be B.C., but it lives firmly in the future!--J.

1 comment:

  1. I guess my comment last night didn't post, so trying again. Thank you so much EN!