The Rick Ray Band – Under The Sky, plus The Rick Ray Band Live at East Shore Park | Album Review

The Rick Ray Band – Under The Sky, plus The Rick Ray Band Live at East Shore Park

Neurosis Records

13 and 11 tracks respectively

Rick Ray offers up some music that is a throwback to the 1960’s with psychedelic garage rock. They self-describe as, “A four piece psychedelic progressive hard rock fusion band featuring Kip Volans on drums, Dave “Shaggy” Snodgrass on bass and vocals, Rick “Sarge” Schultz on reeds and wind synth, Rick Ray on guitars and vocals.” Sam Guinta guests on keys. The sound is certainly trippy and out there, but they work hard to pull it off. This is their 36th album since 1999, a prolific set of works.

Under the Sky features all new originals except the final cut, which is the title track of their 2001 album, a reprise of sorts. The first two cuts, “No Remorse” and  “1974”are driving, heart stopping rockers. ‘Were They Ever Here” slows things down a bit but remains out there for those who enjoy this style of music. It builds into a quagmire of confusion and long sax and guitar instruments that make one’s head bob to the beat. “Lost in the Fog” offers some semblances of many bands from the late 1960’s and early 1970s. “Casualty” is a mid tempo piece about tragedy and despair. “The Note Police” is a cut about a man gone bad who criticizes all music since 1978. The driving rocker “”It’s Been Awhile” follows, a frantic ride not for the faint of heart.

“Best from Afar” starts out with a spoken intro that reminds me of a police show opening. It continues with that pacing as instrumental and then more vocals to close. “Where Ever I’ll Be” follows, a somewhat ethereal cut with musical drama throughout the cut. “Frozen In Time” continues the slower pacing; it’s almost ballad-like, where Mott the Hoople meets Zappa. Up next is “Absent Friends,” a slow and grandiose number that gives the listener flashbacks to times gone by. Things move out rapidly with “The First, The Last,” a driving rocker with a repeated guitar riff that becomes the song’s centerpiece and builds jazz-like throughout. The studio album concludes with a synthetic organ sitar sound and heavy guitar, delivering the message how our DNA has been manipulated to control things. It’s odd but grabs at the listener.

The second CD is 73 minutes of live music from Ray and the band featuring ten straight driving, rocking cuts of their older music. It concludes with a moderately paced instrumental entitled “No More” that gives the listener breathing room after a blistering set of over an hour of fast paced music from the East Shore Park. This second CD is built on listeners absorbing the sounds to enhance the voyages they are taking. It’s trippy stuff and really gives me musical flashbacks to the late 1960s.

If this is your bag of tricks, you’re gonna love it.  It’s way out, spatially enabled, heavy, psychedelic stuff that drives and soars and throbs in a mix of rocking stuff.  As I said above, it’s not for the faint of heart, but if you need something to soar by, then grab these CDS!

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