John DeGroff - Salt

Published Friday 30th August 2019
John DeGroff - Salt
John DeGroff - Salt

RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 175282-28359
LABEL: Rottweiler Records
FORMAT: Digital Only Album

Reviewed by Andy Shaw

Whilst the name John DeGroff may not be familiar to many, he was, in fact, the co-founder of Christian rock legends Petra. John was the band's bass player from 1972 to 1978 but since then has kept a relatively low profile, playing with several local bands though popping up for some guest appearances such as on the Petra Farewell Tour. This album is a solo effort featuring many friends, including former Petra vocalist John Schlitt (who sings on three tracks). Apart from those vocal tracks, this is a largely instrumental record with some impressive virtuosic playing most notably from DeGroff on bass and Curtis George on drums. The musical approach is influenced heavily by the sounds of the '70s, from prog rock and blues to soul and even a touch of jazz. Opener "Runnin'" sets the tone with John's bass getting straight into a funky groove and the Hammond organ giving the song a '70s prog vibe with both instrumentalists getting solo sections to show off their technical skills. This record is a real showcase of DeGroff's ability on the bass with many different techniques and playing styles on display from the harmonics of "Sneeze" to the fuzz bass of "Silk & Cookies". There are tempo changes at every turn putting the drummer through their paces from soft brushes to frantic syncopation with some free sections thrown in for good measure. Whilst the bass playing is often centre stage, it takes more of a back seat with vocals coming to the fore on the soulful "I'm Your Man" and the acoustic guitar and harmonica taking the lead on the wistful closer "Theme For A Perfect Day". "Celebrity Squat Thrust" stands out as the heaviest track bringing the blues rock sound with distorted electric guitar riffs and the bass dropping down to the lower register. With so much going on in terms of sounds and instrumentation, the record doesn't always flow and the production is a bit raw in places compared to the polished sounds we are used to hearing these days. Also, the timing is not always tight and there are some sections where the drums and bass aren't quite in sync. That being said, the record as a whole feels like the work of someone who is having fun making music with their friends. We could definitely do with more music like that in the world.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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