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Gamma 2

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Album Review

The second LP from Gamma, an unlikely hard rock group on Elektra Records, features future Robin Trower vocalist Davey Pattison doing his best to sound like Bad Company during Paul Rodgers' "Rock & Roll Fantasy" period. With Jim Alcivar on synthesizer and Denny Carmassi on drums, you have a goodly portion of the band Montrose, since the guitarist/producer is the guiding hand behind this project. "Skin and Bone" might as well be Bad Company, while the cover of Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air" misses the mark slightly. The revolutionary theme of that great tune from the film The Strawberry Statement gets lost in the translation and doesn't have Pete Townshend's clever production. Though the attempt is interesting enough, memories of the original are so strong that this version is a bit of a letdown, the risk of treading on hallowed ground snagging the group here. Ronnie Montrose, Alcivar, and Pattison combine to write the leadoff track, "Mean Streak," which distorts the "Jumpin' Jack Flash riff just enough to create something new with a metal edge. "Four Horsemen" is Black Sabbath with '80s polish, while "Dirty City" goes back to the Ken Scott sound of the first Gamma LP, copying Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" from two years earlier. Ten Wheel Drive vocalist Genya Ravan is listed on "Dirty City," but Pattison's voice is what producers Gary Lyons and Ronnie Montrose bring up in the mix. "Voyager" is a dreamy metal blues number, and it gives Ronnie Montrose a chance to shine. It and "Cat on a Leash" are two of the more original titles from a group that was highly derivative. "Mayday" ends the album with a hard rock mutation of the Knack's "My Sharona." For a group that sounds so much like two acts on Elektra's sister label, Atlantic, Gamma may have fared better elsewhere. Still, Ronnie Montrose's guitar work makes it worth a few spins, and there's no denying the craftsmanship on sounds you've heard many times before.

Customer Reviews

A forgotten gem!

Ronnie Montrose's guitar genius is best known for the classic 1973 self-titled "Montrose" album that also introduced the world to Sammy Hagar (who later established a successful solo career and also joined Van Halen in the mid-80s) on vocals and Denny Carmassi (subsequently of Heart and Whitesnake) on drums. Despite the undeniable "classic" status of "Montrose", in many ways Gamma 2 is better. That will be considered heresy to many, but Gamma 2 is a consistently good album without a single dud song. It has superb production values and great performances all round, with Davey Pattison’s bluesy vocals complementing the songs without overwhelming them. And it is the songwriting that really stands out. This is a superb, classy example of classic American hard rock, chock full of hooky choruses and searing solos. Mid-tempo rockers like opener “Mean Streak” and “Dirty City” nestle snugly with the moody “Skin and Bone” and a unique version of “Something’s In The Air”. Despite the quality of the songs on offer, four stand out. “Four Horsemen”, with a frantic proto-Metallica beginning morphing seamlessly into a full-tilt boogie affair; “Cat On A Leash”, characterized by chunky riffs and great off-beat rhythms; “Mayday”, melodic metal fuelled by Denny’s fluid and inventive drumming; and “Voyager”, my personal favorite; a gorgeous blues-tinged number with soloing simply to die for. Gamma 2 is simply a must for fans of the classic 1980s melodic hard rock scene characterised by great musicians and great songs; fans of Gary Moore, UFO, Aldo Nova, Journey and the Scorpions will be especially enthralled. They may wonder how they missed it the first time around. Gamma 2. Every home should have one. Now, can we have the 3rd one on iTunes please?!


Formed: 1979

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Although more exploratory and ambitious than his eponymous first band, incendiary guitar genius Ronnie Montrose's second group, Gamma, forever dwelt in the shadow of the landmark Montrose debut. In the early '70s, Ronnie Montrose left Colorado for California, and became known for his session work with Van Morrison and Boz Scaggs. He then rose to fame as Edgar Winter's axeman on the legendary They Only Come Out at Night. Wanting to call his own shots, Ronnie Montrose turned down an invitation from...
Full Bio
Gamma 2, Gamma
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  • $10.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Arena Rock, Metal
  • Released: 1980

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