Thursday, September 04, 2008

Review: The Treat - Phonography

Label: Rockular Recordings

Released: 2007

On Phonography, the Treat not only incorporate a lot of British rock styles from the late 60s and early 70s, but they manage to do it seamlessly and make it fresh. They draw on everything from the raw bluesiness of Led Zeppelin to the grandiose prog of Genesis. Starting off an album with as much bombast as "Fanfare for a King," sets high expectations. In this game, there isn't much room between perfection and silliness and there's no doubt that the Treat are over the top, but what they pull off over the course of the album is rivaled today perhaps only by Bigelf.

The 70s are a curious time in rock history. In the wake of the Beatles-inspired experimentation of the late 60s, a lot of the music began trading its youthful energy for big, fat bombast. So often bands that rehash the 70s fail to correct that problem (and exacerbate it instead), but The Treat tap into only the very best and re-energize it. I can imagine a song like "Too Late," their homage to the Who and Faces, fizzling in the hands of the average purveyor of nostalgia despite being a fantastic song. But The Treat do more than just remake the sounds of the past, they relive them. And they live such a broad range too. They follow up "Too Late" by taking on King Crimson and Genesis. Earlier they live up to Sabbath and Cream and later to Traffic. "Black Cat Whites" jumps back and forth between Syd Barrett and Sweet without missing a beat. It just shows how good a handle they have on the music they love.

Their influences are a who's who of great British rock. Though they do occasionally slip into AOR flatness (for a few moments here and there, not for a few songs), but it's their energy and love that makes the album so exciting. Phonography does pretend that nothing has happened since 1975, but that's not the end of the story. Whether you like Zeppelin or Genesis, Cream or Procol Harem, Jethro Tull or Traffic, Syd Barrett or Sweet, the Who or Queen (I could really just keep going), the Treat has a reinterpretation that is more appreciation than copy.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 7/10


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