Freehand: Thinking Out Loud (CD, 65:29); InEar Visions Music IEV-9503-2, 1997 Contact info: Metaphoric Music Productions, item: mmp149025 P. O. Box 3042 Durham, NC 27715 Phone/ Fax: 919-382-2972 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you consider yourself a progrock or jazz-rock fusion lover then make sure to add this release to your collection. This North Carolina band recorded and released the early cassette version of this in 1988-89. Time moved on and Freehand dissolved as so many other quality prog/fusion entities have. It's a shame I have lived so close to this band's stomping grounds and somehow Fate clouded their existence out of mine until after the fact. Thankfully, Freehand chose to re-release their fine music in a CD format nearly a decade later. Two unreleased songs are added with a ton of historic liner notes and excellently artsy packaging to boot. Best of all the sound quality has been vastly enhanced over the original cassette version. Freehand used to play Happy the Man, UK, and King Crimson covers and these influences clearly show in their songs. If you like fusion guitar, quirky keys, cosmic synths, complex time signatures, melodic and creative bass lines then you'll enjoy Freehand. "RH Factor" is the song most likely to please HTM fans with saxophone included. "Camels Dance" is also a HTM inspired song. I picked up S.F.F.'s Symphonic Pictures coming thru in that one as well. That Kit Watkins otherworldly carousel ride is spinning away on these pieces. Even a taste of Jean Luc Ponty composition graces "Mirkwood" -- only lacking Ponty's violin. Adrian Belew era Crimson is all over the place. "Mastodon" vocals and stampeded-loud guitars shout blatant Belew/Crimson and it's all crazy fun. I could go on but I leave the joy of surprise to your future listening. Musicianship is flawless, creative, passionate, ballsy, and precise. Robert Howerton and David Bollinger are excellent guitars and decent vocals. David also does keys. Brian Preston is big bass and God bless 'im, brainchild behind the re-release. Jeff Lindsey did the challenging drumlines and Todd Barbee's tenor sax added the "instant HTM" ingredient. Freehand is a band that should not have faded away but they were "before the times" and they flashed in the pan brightly but briefly. Tell 'em thanks and pick this treasure up while the tide is out. More than highly recommended. -- John W. Patterson
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"Thinking Out Loud" excerpt
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