[Review] Stanley Clarke: Rocks, Pebbles And Sand (1980)

Jazz/rock, funk and soul are the main ingredients for Stanley’s seventh solo foray.

Kronomyth 7.0: Geological Positivism.

Stanley seems to be inching slowly toward mainstream R&B with each album. The man likes to sing, and has a decent voice, although he’s still a little too spread out stylistically to win over the fusion or funk camps entirely. Highlights this time include a space funk adventure with Chick Corea (“Underestimation”), the soulful “You/Me Together” featuring Marcy Levy (late of Eric Clapton’s employ) on vocals and the suite (if slightly indigestible) “The Story of A Man And A Woman.” Those last two tracks feature a substantial string section in tow, while Clarke calls in Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall-bangers for the rudimentary funk single, “We Supply.”

Like Modern Man before it, Rocks, Pebbles And Sand is a mixed bag. I prefer the fusion and can do without the funk. As for the vocal songs, they work some of the time; the opening “Danger Street,” for example, reminded me of John Lennon, an artist I don’t readily associate with Stanley Clarke.

Modern Man and Rocks are two albums that do many things well, none of them exceptionally well. I can tell you that some of the subsequent straight-up R&B albums are pretty awful, although I think jazz in general collectively cringed in the 80s as fusion players pursued funk and disco as a way to cash in on their chops. This album at least rocks some of the time and continues to make a case that the words “singer/songwriter” belong somewhere after the title of world’s greatest bass guitarist.

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Original LP Version

A1. Danger Street
A2. All Hell Broke Loose
A3. Rocks, Pebbles And Sand
A4. Underestimation
B1. You/Me Together
B2. We Supply (Stanley Clarke/Louis Johnson)
B3. The Story of A Man And A Woman
Part 1: She Thought I Was Stanley Clarke
Part 2: A Fool Again (Stanley Clarke/Monica Francine Pege)
Part 3: I Nearly Went Crazy (Until I Realized What Had Occurred)

All songs written by Stanley Clarke unless noted.

The Players

Stanley Clarke (various electric bass guitars, vocals, background vocals, strings and horns), Steve Bach (keyboards), Charles Johnson (various guitars), Simon Phillips (drums and percussion) with George Bohanon (trombone on B1/B3), Mari Botnick (violin on B1/B3), Denyse Buffum (viola on B1/B3), Thomas Buffum (violin on B1/B3), David Campbell (strings and horns), Ronald Cooper (cello on B1/B3), Chick Corea (Moog 55, Moog 15, OB-X and Fender Rhodes on A4/B3), Rollice Dale (cello on B1/B3), Vincent DeRosa (French horn on B1/B3), Bobby DuBow (violin on B1/B3), David Duke (French horn on B1/B3), Victor Feldman (vibraphone on B3), Jerry Hey (trumpet), Josie James (vocals on B2), Louis Johnson (electric bass, guitar and vocals on B2), Valerie Johnson (vocals on B2), Rory Kaplan (synthesizer programming on A4/B3), Marcy Levy (vocals, background vocal), Dennis Mackay (introduction on B2), Lew McCreary (trombone on B1/B3), Niles Oliver (cello on B1/B3), Sid Page (violin on B1/B3), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards on B2), Bill Reichenbach (horns on B2), John Robinson (drums on B2), Sheldon Sanov (violin on B1/B3), Frederick Seykora (cello on B1/B3), Carol Shive (violin on B1/B3), Lya Stern (violin on B1/B3), Ronald Strauss (viola on B1/B3), John Thomas (trumpet on B1/B3), Charles Veal (violin on B1/B3), Helaine Wittenberg (viola on B1/B3). Produced by Stanley Clarke; sound production by Dennis Mackay. Album coordination by Kathe Hoffman.

The Pictures

Original design by Nancy Donald; illustration by Robert Giusti; photography by Henry Diltz; reprographics by CLE Print.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in July 1980 in the US (Epic, JE-36506), the UK (Epic, EPC-84342) and Japan (Epic, 25.3P-216); reached #95 on the US charts, #5 on the US Jazz charts and #42 on the UK charts.

  1. Repackaged with Let Me Know You on remastered CD on July 27, 2010 in the UK (Beat Goes On, BGOCD-924).

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