In 1982, Ronnie Montrose released a synth riddled LP that was markedly different to the previous two Gamma LP’s that went before.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Gamma 3
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Ronnie Montrose – guitars * Davey Pattison – vocals * Mitchell Froom – keyboards * Glen Letsch – bass * Denny Carmassi – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 What’s Gone Is Gone * 02 Right The First Time * 03 Moving Violation * 04 Mobile Devotion * 05 Stranger * 06 Condition Yellow * 07 Modern Girl * 08 No Way Out * 09 Third Degree
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Occasionally you will find a band or artist completely move away from a style that many were accustomed to. During the early 80’s, some of these opted to embrace technology and synthesizers in such a way that would test the faithfulness of fans – if only for a bit of creative artistic license being employed by the artist in question.
Such examples include: Neil Young (refer his godawful ‘Trans’ LP), ZZ Top‘s high successful ‘Eliminator’, Doc Holliday‘s ‘Modern Medicine’ and Van Halen (refer their ‘1984’ and ‘5150’ albums).
Ronnie Montrose decided to join that club too, and in 1982, he released a synth riddled LP that was markedly different to the previous two Gamma LP’s that went before. Keyboardist Jim Alcivar was replaced by studio hound Mitchell Froom, previously seen with the band Bruzer and also associated with Crowded House.
‘Gamma 3’ might be different, but it is high on melodic values. Many have commented that Montrose’s guitar prominence was effectively nullified by all the keyboards on offer, but I don’t find that at all. All that is different is there are more keyboards in the mix.
‘What’s Gone Is Gone’ gets us underway with a fast tempo intro. The song itself pumps along at a great pace, reminding me of Alaska‘s ‘The Sorcerer’ in parts. Arrangement wise, this one has a bit of everything.
‘Right The First Time’ prowls across the soundscape initially, but opens out to a highly melodic track shortly after. Froom’s keyboards provide the layering colour in much the same way as Howard Helm did for Canadian heroes Refugee.
The opening strains of ‘Moving Violation’ reminded me of Kansas, but it was only fleeting, as it turns out to be a tough rocker mostly through the verses. It goes off on a different tangent by solo time, but you get that with Ronnie’s music.
‘Mobile Devotion’ has a similar hi-tech vibe to The Tubes in places, but is probably even more hi-tech OTT than those guys. Complete with morse code sound samples, ‘Stranger’ is perhaps one of the most commercial songs on the album, the chorus though simple is very effective, the whole song combining well.
‘Condition Yellow’ is an instrumental track fusing Froom’s keyboards with Montrose’s guitar, a style that Ronnie would explore on his forthcoming solo albums. ‘Modern Girl’ is musically similar to that one-off Celestium album, though the acoustic guitar and Pattison’s vocal flavour would send it in a slightly direction.
‘No Way Out’ is sung and played in the same style as the classic ‘Razor King’ from the debut, though the lyrical content is not as tough and dark. Ronnie lets loose a flurry of six-string capers that confirms to me this album isn’t all about keyboards.
Unlike the next track, where prowling around shadowy corners and night time alleys is ‘Third Degree’, a dark sounding track with Froom contributing some ‘power chords’ keyboard style! This one could even be described as progressive when compared to the previous tracks on the album.
By 1983, Gamma were put out to pasture by Montrose after a support tour of Europe in tow with Foreigner. Montrose continued his sci-fi/synth orientation with a handful of solo LP’s released during the 80’s such as ‘Territory’ and ‘Speed Of Sound’.
Pattison moved on to Robin Trower‘s band, Carmassi joined Heart for their 1983 LP ‘Passionworks’ and played with them all through their successful mid 80’s tenure, while bassist Glen Letsch moved on to New Frontier then onto Robin Trower‘s band alongside Pattison.
Never one to sit still for long, Ronnie has released many many albums since. Gamma was reformed in 2000 for the ‘Gamma 4’ album, continuing the musical legacy of this amazing band.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)