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Starting Point
Sufficiently Breathless7
 
Released: 1973 

1) Sufficiently Breathless  2) Bright, Blue Tango  3) Drifting in Space  4) Evil Men  5) Starglow Energy  6) Distant Sun  7) Voyages of Past Travelers  8) Everything's A Circle

 

You should really hear this album first…before the debut.  The songs, (except “Voyages of Past Travelers”) are all very good.  They are well played and well crafted, and have tons of musical ideas.  I really think my perception of this album though, is clouded by the first record.  I can’t fully appreciate it for what it is because I am just too fond of the original.  If you hear it first, you might not be so put off by it.       

 

Since the debut, drummer, main songwriter and the man most responsible for the Captain Beyond sound, Bobby Caldwell, left the group.  One would assume that Rod Evans would take over the songwriting, but every song on this album is credited to bassist Lee Dorman.  Dorman’s style is similar in that the songs are very structured, but they completely lack the thumping, almost heavy metalish style of Caldwell.  Losing their songwriter was one thing, but not having Caldwell’s drums is what actually changed the sound of the band.  You can really hear how distinctive his drumming is on the first album after playing this record.        

 

The title track kicks the album off to a…well an acoustic folk-pop start.  Nothing like the acoustic material on “Captain Beyond,” this sounds like Crosby Stills and Nash.  The song is unquestionably charming, with great vocal and musical melodies…appealing, pleasant and catchy, but completely different from their “sound.”  Bright Blue Tango” follows and is a well played, 1970s rock song.  Not the dirty thud of their first record, but the Peter Frampton, clear-cut sound of 70s mainstream.  It is definitely good even if it is miles away from their debut.  Drifting in Space,” on the other hand, is the debut with a little more funk and it rules.  It really moves and features an electric organ solo, and a new, boogie style fun that could have propelled their first album even more.  Great tune and one of their best overall.   

 

Evil Men” starts off with a menacing little guitar fill that slowly transforms into a decent Top 40 rock song, with an attempt at a Latin rhythm.  No real bite, too long, and much too mainstream, but still more than listenable.  This tune perfectly reflects the problem with this album.  The songs are well played and good, but they sound forced, lacking something.  You just don’t feel that the band believes in what they are saying.  There is just no resonance behind the material.  Starglow Energy” starts as a pure piano ballad with Evans’s vocals echoing back at him.  The music is moody, but the lyrics are so stupid, it brings this should be atmospheric piece down.  Distant Sun” begins with a nice tension building bass pound and cool piano splashes, and goes on to feature a neat little instrumental break in the middle.  The verses though aren’t anything too special—again, not distasteful, just not very effective.  Voyages of Past Travelers” has the “I am Iron Man” voice modifier backed by spacey, Halloween scary sounds for two minutes.  Yep, it is just as stupid as you think it might be.  Everything’s A Circle” is “Riki Don’t Lose That Number.”  Same kind of sound…so if that’s your thing then enjoy.  It is a fine song, with musical changes and style, but eh…I feel like taking it out every time and putting back in the debut.                    

 

I hope you can fully enjoy this album without comparing it to the original…I hope that you can connect with the more charming sound and fully appreciate the tunes as they are.  For me though, this record is nothing but a let down.  Not because of the actual music (which I’ve said ten times is borderline excellent), but because I’ll always hear it and wonder what might have been.

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