RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Gamma 1 – Gamma 1
Rock Candy Records
http://www.rockcandyrecords.com/

Rating: B+

The late and great guitarist Ronnie Montrose formed the band Gamma in the late ‘70s.  His previous band, Montrose, had early success with then unknown vocalist Sammy Hagar, but by the end of the decade, the band Montrose had run its course.  Montrose members John Alcivar (keyboards) and Alan Fitzgerald (bass) joined Ronnie and drummer Skip Gillette with the intention of bringing Ronnie’s skills to a new, more modern sounding band.  Vocalist Davey Pattison jumped onboard and gave the band a Bad Company vibe, which, when mixed with Ronnie’s guitar skills, created a sound all its own. 

The band had a Top 100 hit with “I’m Alive” which was the most pop oriented number on the offering.  Album opener “Thunder and Lightning” and “Ready For Action” are more representative of the sound of this group.  This was hard rock with a then futuristic synthesizer sound thrown in for good measure.  The synth actually dates the music, but once you look past that, you discover a great album. 

On songs like “Razor King,” Pattison’s Paul Rodgers impersonation is almost too much, but hell, if you gotta sound like someone, Rodger’s ain’t a bad choice! (Pattison later teamed up with guitar god Robin Trower, and his voice is perfect in that collaboration.) “Fight to the Finish” ends the album and describes Ronnie’s work ethic.  This is one of those albums that was huge… but really only among big music fans of the day.  It’s a shame they did not get the respect and success the truly deserved as both Montrose and Pattison shine on every damn song.

Rock Candy Records has done an amazing job with this one.  They re-mastered the sound, tracked down Davie Pattison in northern California for a new interview featured in the liner notes, and they have killer artwork, including many photos.

If you missed this one the first time around, then this is a perfect opportunity to discover a killer band.  If you did love the album but don’t have a record player anymore then here ya go…problem solved.  And if you’re a budding music historian looking for diamonds in the rough then trust me, they don’t come any brighter than this! 

While most consider the band’s best effort to be their most successful, which is Gamma 2, they are, according to me, wrong.  While that is a great release, this one, the first one, captures Ronnie’s playing better and therefore makes Gamma 1 the best of the bunch. And, if you love to ‘air-drum’, don’t forget to pick up Gamma 3 and pretend to be Denny Carmassi.

TRACK LISTING:
1. THUNDER AND LIGHTNING
2. I’M ALIVE
3. RAZOR KING
4. NO TEARS
5. SOLAR HEAT
6. READY FOR ACTION
7. WISH I WAS
8. FIGHT TO THE FINISH

Jeb Wright

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