Perth, Western Australia songwriter Chris Gibbs is a name familiar to many on the local scene. As one of Perth’s hardest working musicians even if you haven’t seen him live playing his own material there’s a good chance you might have been enjoying a quiet pint in your local with Chris providing the accompaniment in the background.
After the release of his second solo album ‘Big Appetite’ in 2014 ‘The Transmission’ was formed as a vehicle to play electric ‘full band’ versions of that album and Chris’ debut ‘Little Empires’ and this EP is the logical next step – laying down the 5 best tracks from ‘Big appetite’ but played with a lot more grunt to replicate the band’s live sound. It also acts as a marker for ‘The Transmission’s’ forthcoming full length album scheduled for November 2017.
On the original ‘Big Appetite’ release there was a real range of styles at play from the ‘Easy listening’ lyrical dexterity of title track ‘Big Appetite’ through to the Bluesy stomp of ‘Said the Spider to the Fly’ but predominantly it was all about melody and a distinctly laid-back and very light ‘West Coast’ AOR vibe. So it’s interesting to see the song selections and how sonically they’ve been reshaped.
Indeed the changes are pretty apparent from the off with one of ‘Big Appetites’ most laid back tracks ‘News of the Day’ even taking naming rights to the EP! The original version brought back memories of L.A. mornings by the sea, a slow laid back awakening and gentler simpler days. Here ‘News of the Day’ is transformed into a slick AOR romp, a little funkier and a lot smoother. It lifts the song considerably.
‘Take on the World’ was originally our favourite track on ‘Big Appetite’ and it remains so here: a heady dose of 70’s singer-songwriter AOR that gives you that clear blue sky feeling and brightens your day. Here it again receives a real boost from the full band treatment with an almost ‘Hagar era Van Halen’ meets ‘Collins era Genesis vibe’!
While there’s no room for the Bluesy ‘Wrong Side of the Tracks’ the hardest hitting track on the original album its sonic counterpoint ‘Said the Spider to the Fly’ is again reinvigorated with a bigger thrust and tastier bluesy stomp; and whilst ‘Lover’s Last Embrace’ still starts out with that Dylan-like harp, rather than rest back into the gently strummed ballad it takes on a slicker more contemporary feel.
That leaves us only with the original album’s title track ‘Big Appetite’ which gets a stripped back opening and gentle revision that injects a little more attitude and smoky vibe, like all the tracks revisited here there’s something added and nothing at all taken away or lost in translation.
When I heard that Chris was reworking half of his latest album I wondered what he’d do with it – if he’d veer off on a tangent or just rework it gently by adding a few more layers and instruments. I hadn’t expected to discover such a wonderful transformation. This is world class and if you love the likes of Steely Dan, TOTO, Jeff Porcaro or even if you can imagine an easy listening take on early eighties hard rock this is well worth checking out.