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Album Review

Gentle Rain was a one-off project spearheaded by Nick Ingman that sold poorly upon its release in 1973, but became a sought-after cult record, thanks to Ingman's dazzling instrumental arrangements of then-recent pop hits. With top session pros at his disposal, yet only allowed two days of recording, Ingman banged out one of the strangest albums to be ever labeled easy listening. Taking songs by such artists as the Beatles, Carole King, and Bill Withers, Ingman transformed them into cinematic, jazz-funk fusion tracks that sound like they were tailor-made for a TV detective show or the latest Dirty Harry flick. You can almost taste the '70s, as flutes and clarinets (which usually take on the melody) mingle with electric piano; tuned percussion (including congas), with Moog synthesizer stabs (played by Ingman), funky basslines and tight drumming (courtesy Brian Bennett of the Shadows, who swings from jazz to funk to rock with ease); plus touches of light psych and scratchy, wah wah guitar; topped off by flugelhorn solos. Incorporated into a song like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" are elements of somber jazz, ominous electronic film scores, psychedelic rock, groovy funk and jazz-rock, all blended to stunning effect. Ingman's arrangements are inspired, to say the least, occasionally even veering away from the song itself (such as the jazz detour at the conclusion of "Use Me"). But the best reinterpretations are those that take the tune so far away from the original that it's an amazing thing to be heard; "Fool on the Hill" is made funky, and it works! Moody is an easily digestible fusion record that only gets noisy once (briefly, during Ingman's own composition, "Lonely Jelly"), yet is still experimental and pleasing to the adventurous; it's head-scratching background music for those who love the sound of the '70s.

Moody, The Gentle Rain
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