Gamma – Gamma 2 (1980)

One of the most noteworthy passings this year (2012) in the hard rock/metal world was that of guitarist Ronnie Montrose.  By all accounts, Montrose was a complicated individual.  He was said to be a driven perfectionist, and a man petrified of being viewed as a phony.  He was also an alcoholic, a cancer patient, and as it turns out, depressed and (ultimately) suicidal.  Ronnie Montrose will be remembered as an important figure in the evolution of American hard rock/metal.  The 1973 debut album by his band Montrose is hailed as a classic of the genre.  Despite Ronnie Montrose’s respected and influential body of work, few would probably be able to pick Ronnie Montrose’s face out of a lineup.  He wasn’t really the type of rock star we are used to these days.  His prime pre-dated the MTV generation, and as a blue-collar style guitarist, he rarely hogged the spotlight.  Truth be told, I probably couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup myself.  I’m a child of the eighties and nineties.  As such, it’s not really my place to wax nostalgic about Ronnie Montrose, as I wasn’t around during Montrose’s heyday.  The music of the band Montrose never affected my life directly like it surely would have had I been born a decade or so earlier.  Nevertheless, it is important to remember a man who helped build the foundation for the music I have loved so much in my life.  So I think its time to give my Gamma 2 CD a fresh spin.  Gamma was one of Ronnie Montrose’s post-Montrose bands, and Gamma 2 (1980) was the band’s second LP…

Gamma 2 consists of the kind of conventional hard rock that was still very much in-phase during the early eighties.  The sound was polished, mostly blues-based, and very professional.  Listening to Gamma 2 brings to mind other FM radio friendly bands of the day such as Foreigner, Rainbow, and Bad Company.  But more than anything else, I find Gamma 2 to be very much like UFO’s 1980 album No Place To Run.  At times, Gamma vocalist Davey Pattison sounds exactly like UFO’s Phil Mogg.  (And this is precisely the kind of hard rock record that made crusty metal reviewer Martin Popoff stain his underpants!)  The sound of Gamma, like the other bands mentioned above, would eventually fall out of favor as the eighties wore on.  The new sounds of hair metal and thrash captured the ears of hard rock/heavy metal fans.

Gamma 2 opens with a decent, muscular rocker called Mean Streak.  Good start.  The highlight of Gamma 2 comes next in the form of Four Horseman, a speedy demon featuring a neat Montrose riff.  Gamma 2 also features a not-so-great cover of Something In The Air by Thunderclap Newman.  This song, which I will forever associate with the great movie Kingpin (of which Something In The Air  was used in a pivotal bowling scene), seems to lose all of its quirky appeal in this Gamma arrangement.  On this song and throughout the album, Jim Alcivar’s synthesizers were used in generous proportions, giving the entire record a somewhat dubious time stamp.  In the end, Gamma 2 is a very orthodox, somewhat corporate, vanilla hard rock album.  It may not be remembered as Ronnie Montrose’s signature work, but (for better or worse) it captures the essence of a very specific time in radio-ready hard rock.  R.I.P. Ronnie Montrose.  My score: B- 

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4 thoughts on “Gamma – Gamma 2 (1980)

  1. Excellent review and very well informative and well written, especially the UFO comparison.

    As a Mercyful Fate fanatic..I have talked to tons of Mercyful Fate fans from all over the world, and the conclusion is that Mercyful Fate is “super-charged UFO worship”, which is fine by me.

    Speaking of UFO worship, I inquired the band Tokyo Blade if they had a afffinity for Iron Maiden and UFO, and the said NO…there music was Van Halen worship, and ended up in the NWOBHM style, because of youthful exuberance. I am no big Tokyo Blade fanatic total diehard(for me that is Motorhead), but I treasure and worship, there 1st and 2nd recordings. “Toyko Blade”, and “Night of the Blade”

    Recently the label Rock Candy…did this title in CD format, so it should be easy to find if you live in a major heavy metal marketplace like I do.

    Tonight, I am digging out my GOLD disc version of MONTROSE “MONTROSE” , and give it a spin…it is still unreal that this innovator is no longer with us..

    sorry, i had to re-post…I spelt, Mercyful Fate, wrong in my original posting…aaaaarrrrrggghhh

  2. Here is the info’s from the CD.

    I have no idea if this is the first CD pressing, because most 1st edition cd’s come from Germany or Japan, because those countries have the most dedicate fans of heavy metal.

    Info’s are always incomplete over a discogs.com, but it is a cool resource.

    Cat# Candy 113

    barcode 8 27565 05842 6

    contact info… info@rockcandyrecords.com

    website http://www.rockcandyrecords.com

    I also wanted to comment Rock Candy does awesome re-editions, ala High Vaultage and Sentinel Steel. Booklet contains tons of cool old record reviews. A 1500 word essay. ..SO EXPECT A STELLAR RE-EDITION, and no bare-bones garbage, ala Roadrunner Pricekillers, SPV mid-price series, Old Metal Record, Wounded Bird records, and who ever else buts out a cheap reedition just to make it look like the very 1st edition.

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