Cold Sky - "Live At Be Bop Records, 2/8/89"
(Phantom Airship Records 2003, Pale 09)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
Greg Segal's PAle series of budget CDR releases continues with a live performance from Cold Sky, the trio he formed in 1988 as Paper Bag was winding down. Greg was interested in having a band that could play his songs, something that wouldn't work within the framework of the strictly improvisational Paper Bag. As stated on his web site, Greg was interested in a hybrid of blues-oriented hard rock, psychedelic, and progressive music. And listening to this performance it's clear that the band achieved this at a high level. The trio consisted of Greg on guitar and vocals, Hyam Sosnow on drums (currently with Greg in Jugalbandi), and Paper Bag bassist George Radai (who is currently in Bag:Theory). Raw and often potent rock music is given a progressive edge by the complexity of the music, which the listener can either dissect over repeated listens or simply groove along to. Amazing things can happen when skilled and adventurous musicians play rock music with both thoughtful consideration and the sneering attitude that always defined the genre.
Six of the eight songs are from Greg's Water From The Moon and A Man Who Was Here solo albums, and are in most cases a little longer than the originals as the trio reworks them and jams a little more. "The Invasion" is much more powerful than the version on Water From The Moon. The bass and drums control the pace and flow of the song as Greg handles vocals and guitar to add fire and aggression. "Nothing In The Dark (That's Not There In The Light)" is a short song that stands out for it's killer guitar solo, which in this live performance is deliciously dirty. "If I Die Tomorrow" is an excellent example of Greg the singer-writer. And played by Cold Sky, the song comes to life with added power. "Clear Day" is a kick ass down n dirty psych/prog jam. "Under The Bridge" is a melodic but potent rock instrumental that nicely showcases Greg's passion and skill as a guitarist. A powerful blend of hard rock and progressive. And "Blacklight Towers", the one song penned by the trio, is an interesting tune with some of Greg's solos having a Fripp/Crimson sound.
But my favorite tracks are the last two. "A Man Who Was Here" is a heavy prog song with a numbing metallic edge. In fact, Greg's power chord sound brings to mind Roye Albrighton from Nektar's Sounds Like This, which I consider to be one of the greatest hard rock albums of the 70's. And finally, the epic "King Of Illusion" opens with ambient waves and rumbling space efx á la Hawkwind. After about 4 minutes of this trippy intro the band launches into heavy driving prog/space mode. Multiple elements of 70's rock come together to produce a ripping song that is fresher and more exciting than most music that was being produced in the late 80's. Space rock, psychedelia, prog, and just plain mind blowing ROCK music. This was one of my favorite songs of all Greg's solo releases. But backed by Radai and Sosnow, and Segal full of passion, fire and fury, the song commands a cosmic spot in Rock heaven. It's THAT good.
In summary, this was clearly one hell of a band and I hope Greg releases more of their recordings. The band later became a quartet after adding a keyboardist and apparently went even deeper into prog rock territory. They only lasted a couple years and a handful of performances. But if this performance is any indication... they kicked some serious ass along the way.
For more information you can visit the Greg Segal web site at: http://www.gregsegal.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Phantom Airship Records; PO Box 82525; Portland, OR 97282-0525.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz