The Bombastic Meatbats featuring Chad Smith – More Meat – Warrior

by | Oct 21, 2010 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Bombastic Meatbats featuring Chad Smith – More Meat – Warrior 02097-06442, 64:18 ***1/2:

(Chad Smith – drums, percussion; Jeff Kollman – guitar; Ed Roth – Fender Rhodes, clavinet, Hammond B-3 organ, piano; Kevin Chown – bass)

Vegetarians beware: Los Angeles meat masticators The Bombastic Meatbats are back with another platter of instrumental jazz-rock, funk and fusion. The twelve-track More Meat (recorded in early 2009 and left to marinate until now) follows last year’s Meatbats debut, Meet the Meatbats, and carries on the quartet’s mission to emulate seventies fusion: think Jeff Beck circa 1976, Return to Forever or The Tony Williams Lifetime.

While the cartoonish cover art, the exaggerated name and titles like “Mountain of Meat” and “Lobster Legs” might give the feeling of a joke too many, these guys are serious students of classic jazz fusion who have a solid sense of humor. The group is led by drummer Chad Smith (The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot) with ample assistance from guitarist Jeff Kollman (who has a long list of session credits, over a dozen solo ventures and numerous film/TV projects), keyboardist Ed Roth (an arranger and sideman who heads Ed Roth’s Funktone Express) and bassist Kevin Chown (who has performed with other California artists and released solo work).

The proceedings kick off with upfront “Passing the Ace,” which combines Beck comparable rock-jazz with a dash of Al Di Meola-ish flair. Kollman displays his six-string skills with a hail of flashy riffs, while Chown and Smith double down on a funkified foundation and Roth executes a Jan Hammer-like analog keyboard solo. The aforementioned “Mountain of Meat” remains on a related path with a significant nod to Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” via Kollman’s smooth but hearty Fender guitar tone.
The band decelerates on lounge exhibition “Shag,” a slowly soaked slab reminiscent of Lee Ritenour’s or Larry Carlton’s better work: a hook-laden arrangement, minimal but effective solo space and a polished run-through. The mellow “For Your Courtesy” has a similar bent highlighted by Kollman’s light reverb that is poised against Roth’s mix of acoustic and electric keyboards.

One prominent number nearly did not make the cut: a firm funky rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.” Smith admits he wasn’t too keen on the rocker but the others loved it. Smith could have pulled off a John Bonham impression with an extended drum kit improvisation, but mostly he lets the quartet groove on the Jimmy Page riff, although Smith steps forward at the end with some heavy thudding. The best rockers are originals such as “Roller Girl,” seemingly inspired by the Boogie Nights character. The longish track maintains a mid-tempo swell with plenty of Kollman’s enthused guitar technique that again mirrors but does not copy Beck. The jazzy-psychedelic “Dr. Blotter & Miss Purple (Ride in the Echoplex)” – which refers in part to a noted Los Angeles underground rock club – quotes The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” complete with Kollman’s Robby Krieger-ish guitar style and Roth’s Fender Rhodes flourishes evocative of Ray Manzarek’s keyboard inflection.

If you pine for or are too young to have witnessed the glory of seventies jazz-rock, The Bombastic Meatbats will fill the bill. This material doesn’t equal The Tony Williams Lifetime or Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House – and some of the jams are too prolonged – but overall this is an hour’s worth of well done jazz-oriented rock.

1. Passing the Ace
2. Mountain of Meat
3. The Gunboat Is On!
4. Shag
5. Greasy Louise
6. For Your Courtesy
7. And We All Swing the Tuna
8. Moby Dick
9. Lobster Legs
10. Shilo’s Forbidden City Blues
11. Roller Girl
12. Dr. Blotter & Miss Purple (Ride in the Echoplex)

— Doug Simpson

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