Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Sonny Sharrock Band

  • Seize the Rainbow [Enemy, 1987] A
  • Highlife [Enemy, 1991] A

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Seize the Rainbow [Enemy, 1987]
Despite a patch or two of signature chaos, this is as accessible as good jazz-rock gets. The beat is assured by stalwart bassist Melvin Gibbs and two drummers, jack-of-all-avant Pheeroan akLaff and sometime Benatar-Earland henchman Abe Spellman, and as he approaches fifty the most fearsome noise guitarist of the '60s is nurturing not only a taste for melody but a gift for it. Like his solo album, his group's debut is uncommonly beautiful and direct without flirting with the saccharine or the simplistic. And like his solo album, it gets even better after you put it away for a while. A

Highlife [Enemy, 1991]
As with classic Pharoah Sanders, Sharrock's devotion to cacophony turns out to be the obverse of his devotion to tune--his thematic statements are respectfully stately, his variations more sonic than harmonic. So where Ronald Shannon Jackson is a jazz composer exploring rock colors (and sometimes rhythms), Sharrock has the priorities of a genius son of Jimi and Jimmy. An atmospheric Kate Bush tribute that eventually gains momentum is as arty as this gorgeously straightforward guitar record gets, and though no one will mistake the Sanders cover for "Eight Miles High," it's in the tradition. A