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Mott the Dog's review on....

flow - roots

Review: 147
Date: 28 Sep 03

 


Rating: 4½ Stars

Musicians:
Rick Motembeault - guitar and lead vocals
Breez - lead guitar and vocals
Mit Witchitwatee - drums and percussion
Peter Fleischhacker - bass guitar and vocals

Tracks Listing:
flow river flow
easier to be gone
the non-song
the money song
then there's me
wooden Indian
hey old man
don't push the river
the wheel keeps turning


 


First, I am sure you noticed, this dog usually gets his capital letters in the right places. However, those young pups from flow do not like to use capital letters in their name and C.D. titles, and who am I to argue? After all, the Beatles couldn't spell. flow's second album in their trilogy (seeds, roots, and flowers), roots comes two years after the first album and confirms flow as one of Thailand's leading rock bands, although only Mit Witchitwatee was born in Thailand; the rest of the band has made Thailand their home.

flow - rootsIn all departments of their trade flow has come on in leaps and bounds. Out the front, when flow takes to the live stage, is Rick Montembeault. As well as being the sole songwriter in the band, he also possesses one of the most unique and emotive voices in Rock 'n' Roll. Rick's collection of songs flow beautifully throughout the album. Opening with the introductory 'flow river flow', which builds from a quiet beginning allowing each member of the band to slowly integrate themselves into the song. Straight away it is thrust into your ears. The regular gigs all over Thailand have made the band tighter and their confidence is infectious.

The rhythm section of Peter Fleischhaker together with Mit Witchitwatee fair punch each song, Peter playing his bass guitar in the more modern style, like a lead instrument, rather than traditionally as a rhythm instrument to underpin the song (especially on the rocky 'easier to be gone'). Mit Witchitwatee's drumming is also pushed right to the front of the mix. If his funky drumming was a feature of seeds, then he excels himself on roots, cementing his place as Thailand's drummer's drummer.

On lead guitar and star of the live set is the man with more nicknames than he can remember, Roland Fleischhacker, a.k.a. 'The Character', or to most of his friends 'Breez'. Breez's (see, Mott the Dog's a friend) guitar playing throughout is exemplary and is the only lead guitarist that flow could ever have as he manages to play in all the different styles that Rick Montembeaults songs demand. You are never going to get bored listening to a flow album. Even through this one Breez's playing leaves you in no doubt that you are listening to a collection of flow songs. One of my small gripes about this set is that Breez is only once allowed to blow up into a hurricane with his axe playing (during 'hey old man'). For two and a half minutes Breez rips through his strings bringing the song to a roaring climax. I hope on the final piece of the trilogy Breez is given a little more rope to let it all hang out. It certainly would add so much more excitement to proceedings.

Unfortunately third song in 'non-song' is exactly as the title suggests, and perhaps could of been left on the cutting room floor. It sounds a bit like an outtake from seventies spoof band Alberto Y Los Trios Paranois, thereby incurring the loss of half a star. But this is more than made up for by what follows in 'the money song', 'then there's me' and the amazing 'wooden indian'. They are the central songs of the set and are by far the best songs ever to come from the pen of Rick Montembeault. If you had to pick one song it would have to be 'wooden indian' with its Led Zeppelin influences flying high. Hey, everybody has influences; best to get them from the top. ‘wooden indian’ is a tribute to native North Americans. It is hard to think of a better crafted song in the world of rock music and is worth the price of the C.D. on its own.

To add to the splendor the talents of 'Life After Nine' (whose debut album 'Stomp' is a must for any lover of good time music) violinist Steve Cipolline have been used on the song, giving flow's sound a whole new dimension. Showing complete unity with Thailand's musicians, the multi-talented keyboard player Keith Nolan of 'Cannonball' has also gainfully been employed. Now there is an idea, next time flow graces Pattaya or Chang Mai with a concert, perhaps they could bring these two with them. Now that would be something to behold.

'the money song' is not only a very fine rocker, it's also very funny to boot. The glee in Rick Montembeault's vocals as he sings

"Money makes the world go round, But why?
It can't buy happiness, But it's fun to try,
And you can't take it with you when you die,
In the end only cockroaches, Keith Richards, and money will survive,
Money is evil, And I should know because I'm poor,
Money is dvil, But I'll need more to be sure."

flow - rootsGreat stuff, Doubloons indeed. Music to tap your foot to and put a smile on your face. Final song 'the wheel keeps turning' brings the whole set to a rousing conclusion

The album comes in a gatefold digi-pack with a separate booklet with lots of photos, all the lyrics and as much information as you are likely to need on the band, all designed by long time flow stalwart Richard Wilson. All in all a very nice package. I look forward to the final chapter of the trilogy - flowers. As flow say, roots - dig in and dig it.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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