Largely, when John Wetton's name is mentioned most people will think of his work with a band rather than his solo work. Sure, we all know of King Crimson, UK and, of course, the break out success of Asia. And that's not to mention collaborations and session work. Yet Wetton has had a substantial solo career. To date he released six solo studio recordings, spanning 30 years. With Anthology Vol. 1, the talented vocalist, bass player, and songwriter gives us a taste of his studio work. Alternatively, New York Minute is a live recording from New York with the Les Paul Trio, where Wetton applies his craft to largely cover material. I speak to the anthology first.
I'm probably one of the few people acquainted with Wetton's "band" work that does not have a single one of his studio recordings. Yes, I have and reviewed a digital copy of 2011's Raised In Captivity, but that doesn't count as it was a promotion from Frontiers Records. All that to say, this Anthology, a 2 CD set of 32 songs, was great introduction to most everything I missed. Besides being genuinely entertaining, it also demonstrates several things about Wetton. First, he's an exceptional song craftsman with a keen sense of melody, groove, and accessibility. For all his time with prog bands, I found that, generally, there's nothing grossly technical about anything here. These songs are basically AOR melodic rock tunes aimed to be ear candy. Additionally, Wetton's a master at gathering the proper musicians, usually friends from the music business, to express his songs. And, mostly, he's a terrifc singer with strong melodic style with an indentifiable tone. I like to hear him sing. Fundamentally, if all you know of Wetton is his work with Asia, for instance, I encourage you to purchase Anthology and explore his solo career. Will it encourage you to buy his back catalog? Maybe so.
As for New York Minute, this is a live recording at the Iridium in New York City, with the Les Paul Trio backing him up. As alluded to, it's also mostly covers of some classic rock standards, those that both influenced and inspired him. And they're some interesting choices, even some songs that I consider important to my early musical history. They're all given a rather laid back acoustic jazz flavor in small context. Steely Dan's Do It Again. The mammoth R & B number, What's Going On? from Marvin Gaye. Can't Find My Way Back Home by Stevie Winwood and Blind Faith. All Along The Watchtower. And The Don Henly's New York Minute. But I'm sure this was played mostly for the audience. Wetton includes acoustic versions of Asia's popular Heat of the Moment and one of his more well-known solo songs, Battle Lines. Honestly, while completely different from Anthology, by comparison, I think I liked New York Minute more. Nevertheless, they're both fine selections for John Wetton's talent. Recommended.
With Anthology Vol. 1, John Wetton gives us a taste of his solo studio work from the last 30 years. Alternatively, New York Minute is a live recording with the Les Paul Trio, where Wetton applies his craft to largely cover material.
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