Music From Here

Ronnie Montrose

Fearless Urge, 1994

http://www.ronniemontrose.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/09/2016

Between and beyond his well-regarded runs with Montrose and Gamma, Ronnie Montrose issued eight studio albums as a solo artist, with most of that work purely instrumental. Of course, that description doesn’t begin to capture the range and variety of those eight albums; each is a distinctly different journey.

The most unusual thing about this particular release is the degree of collaboration involved. In a career shaped by Montrose’s deep-seated drive for autonomy and independence, Music From Here is the one solo album he ever released that actually feels like it was made by a band, with bassist Craig McFarland and drummer Michele Graybeal making their presence felt throughout in terms of both musicianship and composition (six of 10 tracks are credited to Montrose-McFarland-Graybeal).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As you might expect, the album features a healthy crop of forceful rockers, notably the opening one-two punch of “Mr. Walker” and “Primary Function,” both of which rank in the top tier of Montrose’s solo work, full of bruising riffs punctuated with emphatic, imaginative solos. But tracks like “Life After Life” and especially “Indigo Spheres” give equal, welcome attention to McFarland’s heavy, intricate bass work, broadening the album’s sonic palette beyond your typical rock trio sound.

Even quieter tunes like “Road To Reason,” “Fear Not” and “Walk Softly…” feel like they take Montrose’s solo catalog to the next level, showcasing unique tones and memorable melodies in richly atmospheric arrangements. The steady, at times hypnotic “Road To Reason” in particular feels like an outtake from the second half of 1978’s “heavy fusion” album Open Fire, in addition to featuring some distinctly George Harrison-like little stretched notes.

While Montrose indulges in occasional overdubs—notably on the menacing duo “Braindance” and “The Specialist”—for the most part this is a pure power-trio album, making it rich fodder for the ensuing tour featuring the same trio lineup, captured on the one official live release of Montrose’s career, Roll Over And Play Live (1999). Both Roll Over and Music From Here finish up with the muscular, bluesy closer “Wish In One Hand.”

Ronnie Montrose’s solo albums could be patchy, unpredictable affairs—for evidence, just check out Territory or The Diva Station. But while Music From Here has never garnered a great deal of attention, that only underscores its status as the most underrated release in the man’s entire catalog. Music From Here is a captivating instrumental power trio album that ranks among the strongest and most focused solo work ever issued by the mercurial, phenomenally talented Montrose.

Rating: A-

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