ISOTOPE - Isotope

This third and final installment of my search for Isotope albums has produced their debut release. Issued in 1974 this one is once again very different from the oher two that the band produced. For the first time nearly the whole album was written by one person - keyboardist Brian Miller, with Gary Boyle contributing just the final track. Consequently Boyle's guitar is not quite as evident as on their second album, and the funk of their third has yet to appear. This makes the music sound softer, although when the guitar kicks in that flies out the window - witness the superb solo on 'Oh Little Fat Man'. 'Sunshine Park' is more or less a solo keyboards piece, but it is tracks like the Mahivishnu soundalike 'Bite On This' and the excellent 'Upward Curve' where the band excel. Miller has written some first-rate tunes for this album, and as before the playing is exemplary. Apparently Miller and bassist Jess Clyne had a jazz background, and after this album they returned to it, which was why ex-Soft Machine stalwart Hugh Hopper was drafted in for the second album. Miller and Clyne's influence is certainly evident on some tracks where the music seems more jazz than jazz-rock - on 'Windmills And Waterfalls' for example - but once Boyle's guitar appears the fusion takes over. Possibly my least favourite album of the three, although that is only because the other two are such great records. The CD re-issue is certainly worth getting if you want a good example of British jazz-rock fusion at its best