Monday, September 28, 2015

Terry Bozzio Tony Levin & Steve Stevens - 2000 "Situation Dangerous"

 Bozzio Levin Stevens is a supergroup power trio of rock, fusion, jazz and instrumental classical music, consisting of drummer Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, U.K., Missing Persons, Steve Vai, Jeff Beck), bassist and Chapman Stick player Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment) and guitarist Steve Stevens, (Billy Idol, Michael Jackson). They have recorded two albums via Magna Carta.

Situation Dangerous is the second studio album by the supergroup Bozzio Levin Stevens, released on August 8, 2000 through Magna Carta Records.

The hurried nature of this supergroup's first outing, Black Light Syndrome, gave it an urgency and focus that is somewhat lacking on this release, replaced by a textural density that rewards repeated listening. "Dangerous" sets the tone with alternating metal and noir sections, complete with Led Zeppelin and Perry Mason quotes. Former Billy Idol sideman Steve Stevens spices up the proceedings with his signature flamenco influences and electronic textures, tossing in with some Jeff Beck-like guitar on "Melt." King Crimson bassist Tony Levin lends the rock-solid bottom that has made him a sought-after session man, but this is clearly Terry Bozzio's baby. On "Spiral," the former Zappa percussionist spins out of control, bashing and crashing with gleeful abandon. Elsewhere, his unique cymbal work and melodic toms add personality to otherwise straightforward compositions.

Situation Dangerous is the follow-up to 1997's Black Light Syndrome from this powerful trio of seasoned rock musicians. The incendiary title track leads off the album with guitarist Steve Stevens demonstrating that he's capable of much more than testosterone-laden Billy Idol riffs of which he was most commonly associated prior to the formation of this band. Here he conjures up comparisons to manic sound frequently delivered by Robert Fripp particularly on King Crimson albums like Red and their reformed, early-'80s period. But in subsequent tracks, Stevens plays jazz, fusion, classic rock, blues-rock, and flamenco passages with accomplished ease. "Crash" sounds like an outtake from or a salute to the lone classic recording by an earlier supergroup, Armageddon. In other instances he combines the fusion and flamenco leanings of guitarists like Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin. This is an instrumental album, so it is imperative that the tracks display a diversity of tempo and style to distinguish themselves from one another. Historically, instrumental rock trios haven't been overly successful in that regard. These three, however, pull it off admirably. Tony Levin has been one of the most creative and "in-demand" bassists for the past 25 years and his entire repertoire of influences and skills seems to be encapsulated on this recording. He also tackles the variety of compositions in his inimitable smooth yet complex manner. Drummer Terry Bozzio offers his most explosive and perhaps his most defining work since Danger Money from 1979, but it's Stevens' versatility that dictates the course of this album and its ultimate success.

This album is a good example of outstanding good music executed by excellent musicians. Situation dangerous is a mixture among flamenco, heavy metal, jazz, i.e, progressive music. You can appreciate the difference between this album and the first one released in 1997, because the songs are more structured and "it's not as extended or jam-oriented" as Terry Bozzio says in an interview. Indeed there are more flamencoish parts in songs like "Tziganne". There is a remarkable influence from Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and this is because Tony Levin's bass. This guy is the best rock bassist of all time. And last but not least is Terry Bozzio, whose drumming is one of the most interesting in the last ten years owe to his style that mixes jazz, arabian music, flamenco, metal. He made a great job also in "Explorers Club" album, in which you can appreciate his performance with very talented musicians like John Petrucci(Dream Theater) and Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) If you don't have Situation Dangerous, please go for it.

It's hard to beat the "sophomore slump" syndrome, but the Bozzio-Levin-Stevens troika has superseded their first effort gloriously. The overall feel of these eight composition is a much richer musical, mystical tapestry which begs repeated listenings. When I first encountered BLS I was a little wary, knowing the fruits of guitar/bass/drums PLUS keyboards, as exemplified by Mike Portnoy's Liquid Tension Experiment. I thought that without the benefit of an additional tonal pallet this "power trio" would be deprived of the textural richness that a foursome can bring...let's just say I needn't have worried.
Steve Stevens, quite simply, fills all--and I do mean ALL--of the holes where a keyboardist would normally be, overdubbing layer upon layer of guitars, nylon-string guitar, electric sitar, treated guitars, guitar synth, and industrial noise samples. He's like a flamenco-ized Fripp, weaving his lush textures in between strident Spanish nylon-string flourishes and screaming slabs of metalist fury. Tony Levin is no less remarkable, treating the listener to his vast arsenal of lower-register instruments such as funk-fingered bass, upright bass, electric cello, and Chapman Stick, often counterpointing Stevens and anchoring the manic songs with solid, indestructable grooves. Terry Bozzio presides over the progressive smorgasbourg like an ancient shaman or drum master, mystically wrenching a thunderous fabric of restless rhythm from his forest of gongs and cymbals, keeping time with his kick/tomtom polyrhythms and ostinatos like an entire Taiko drum troupe.
If there is any disc of progressive rock/fusion which NEEDS to be purchased and cherished this year, it is this. The combined magic worked by these men will draw you into a more dangerous kind of musical alchemy than you bargained for.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin and Steve Stevens.
No.     Title     Length    
1.     "Dangerous"       6:40
2.     "Endless"       10:10
3.     "Crash"       5:08
4.     "Spiral"       4:37
5.     "Melt"       3:48
6.     "Tragic"       6:58
7.     "Tziganne"       4:27
8.     "Lost"       6:24
Total length:


    Steve Stevens – guitar, engineering, production
    Tony Levin – Chapman stick, bass, production
    Terry Bozzio – drums, production
    Marcus Nand – additional guitar (track 7)



  2. Many thanks for this!! Also looking for Group 87 for which Mark Isham, Peter Maunu, and Patrick O’Hearn were all co-founders.