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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 10. 24 May 1972

Gas Mask — Their First Album

Gas Mask — Their First Album

There are two things about Gas Mask - their first album which' tempt prejudice, - firstly, it is one of a large group of records recently released on the same label: many of the artists recorded are relatively unknown. Secondly, the cover blurb includes micro-biographies of each of the eight group members which read as so much pretentious crap. Perhaps if the record company hadn't economised on the original fold-out cover, which tied up the blurb with individual photographs, it wouldn't have been so bad.

A lot of people have a deep down liking for the "big band" sound — there's something about the driving horn backing which has been generating excitement since Glen Miller. Gas Mask, an American group, aspires to the B.S.&T. — Chicago category of music which is wide open for exploitation at the moment.

The two instrumental tracks, composed by leader (on sax) and arranger David Gross contribute the jazzy side of the record — The Immigrant features Enrico Rava on trumpet, both muted and straight, with good scope for his improvisation, although this becomes a little excessive and almost grating at times. Ray Brooks provides a nice bass line which is consistently good.

Bobby Osborne is the vocalist on eight tracks which are composed by keyboardman Nick Oliva. Light the Road really moves: a crisp balance between percussion and horns provides a solid backing for the punchy vocals. Osborne's voice is quite variable - Just Like That, a slow moody number, is B.S.&T. all over again, even down to the Clayton-Thomas style. All the same, it's good listening. An intriguing fast cross-rhythm on Nothing to do Today features some tight drumming by James Strassburg co-ordinating with Brook's bass.

The track which is probably most typical of the group's sound and ability is Young Man — this would give the best indication of the overall quality to the casual listener.

Much of the record is backgroundy but competent, as expected from the session experience which most of the group's members have had. However, the occasional flashes of brilliance make it worth a listen.

— Alan Hughes