Search - Sonny Sharrock :: Highlife

Sonny Sharrock
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1


CD Details

All Artists: Sonny Sharrock
Title: Highlife
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Enemy
Release Date: 8/5/1994
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Style: Avant Garde & Free Jazz
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 029532011926, 729532011949, 748072011929

CD Reviews

High Energy Jazz Goes Pop!
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This must have been Sonny Sharrock's attempt at a crossover instrumental-rock hit -- and it actually works pretty well. While the rhythm section (including the synth) is pretty basic, Sharrock's guitar is as powerful as ever and his choice of tunes (and arrangements) is creative to say the least: from the West-African "Highlife" to the traditional gospel "All My Trials" (done as an uptempo dance!) and Pharoah Sanders' "Venus/Upper Egypt" (from the late 60's classic "Tauhid", Sharrock's recording debut). Recommended for Sharrock fans and for anyone with an ear for powerful, intelligent electric guitar."
A bit lighter.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 08/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

""Highlife" is a bit of an enigma. It sounds as though Sonny Sharrock was attempting to pursue an audience-- the free jazz leanings of his previous work are nearly entirely absent, and even the hard rock sounds of the past couple albums are eschewed in favor of a lighter, more open and pop approach. And yet, the record, even while overtly feeling more commercial, doesn't feel like a sellout, and more to the point, it has some superb music.

Perhaps the most overt cause for the difference is the presence of live band keyboardist Dave Snider-- with Snider provides a sheen to the music that threatens at smooth jazz textures. The other big factor in the transition is the departure of Melvin Gibbs and Pheeroan Aklaff, both of whom were seeped in free jazz tradition. Joining Snider in the backing band is bassist Charles Baldwin, incumbent drummer Abe Speller and drummer Lance Carter.

Again, the material is largely smoother than any of his previous works-- on opener "No More Tears" for example, there's an almost Satriani-ish vibe to the music, and Sharrock threatens to cut loose but never really does in his beautifully constructed solo. Still, this sense of melodicism works well at times, particular on "Kate"-- an improv based on themes from Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights", where Sharrock is at his most lyrical and puts forth some of his best ballad playing. With this less aggressive setting, when he does cut loose, as on "Chumpy", it feels a bit out of place.

And speaking of out of place, buried on the album is a cover of Pharoah Sander's "Venus/Upper Egypt", from Sanders' "Tauhid" album, originally featuring Sharrock on guitar. While it's brightened up extensively by the opened drumming and Snider's glistening piano sound and threatens to fall apart during his somewhat forced solo, by looking back in a progressive manner, it points the way for what's to come for Sharrock.

Not the best of his catalog, "Highlife" is nonetheless a fine record. Newcomers should check out "Seize the Rainbow" or "Ask the Ages" first, but this one is worth the investment as well."