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The Calling by Aquarium Rescue Unit

The present-day Fusioneer refuses to die! This paraphrase is based on a quote from an early Frank Zappa/Mothers album, most appropo as he’s one of the goddaddys of Fusion. The Aquarium Rescue Unit, associated with the eclectic Southern quiz kid, the estimable Col. Bruce Hampton, is a Fusion outfit steps out on their own with a platter brimming over with a tasty, impassioned amalgam of Southern R&B, jazz, funky rock (a la Little Feat) and pop. Hot licks and tasty chops abound - a little too much at times, as guitarist Jimmy Herring gets a touch over-enthusiastic at times. And the lyrics are a bit too 70s cliché "be all you can be if you believe in you" for my taste. But the soulful keys flute of Kofi Burbridge provide a soulful cushion for the songs (Steve overtones Winwood) and the rhythms are crisp, lively and occasionally funky. There are a few missteps: "Ride" skirts awfully close to Smooth Jazz/Quiet Storm territory, sounding like music one might hear at a ‘hip’ clothing emporium; conversely, "Page In Time" leans into the kind of ham-handed hard-rock bombast that helped mess up 70s Fusion in the first place. The ARU seem to be shooting for a fusion of Chick Corea’s (electric) Return To Forever and Little Feat with touches of Marshal Tucker Band, and for the most part they achieve it in an entertaining manner. But next time, guys, remember: less can mean more.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Aquarium Rescue Unit
  • CD Title: The Calling
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Musicians: Paul Hanson vocals; Jimmy Herring: guitar; Sean O’Rourke: drums; Oteil Burbridge bass; Kofi Burbridge: keyboards, flute. Guests include: Derek Trucks: slide guitar; others.
  • Rating: Two Stars
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