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Symphonic Slam - 1976 Symphonic Slam

ARTIST: Symphonic Slam
ALBUM: Symphonic Slam
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2001, Musea (France), FGBG 4366.AR


LINEUP: Timo Laine - guitar synthesizer, guitar, lead vocals * John Lowery - drums, background vocals * David Stone - keyboards, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Universe * 02 Everytime * 03 Fold Back * 04 I Won't Cry * 05 Let It Grow * 06 Modane Train * 07 Time Runs Short * 08 Days * 09 Summer Rain * 10 How Do You Stand


Symphonic Slam were a Canadian band that released two major label albums, the second as Timo Laine's Symphonic Slam. Laine emigrated from Finland to Canada as a teenager and quickly learned guitar, forming Symphonic Slam and incredibly getting a deal. Was it as simple as that? Probably not, since it reads like a typical rock 'n roll story, but who knows? Signing to A&M the group hitched a ride on Canadian tours with Rush and Gentle Giant showing the band were willing to work, but the debut never really took off and became a cut-out bin favourite until the good folks at Musea decided to add it to their ever growing reissue catalog a few years ago.

The Songs
Reputedly this album was one of the early experiments using the guitar synthesizer pre-dating Allan Holdsworth's groundbreaking work although this is not an album I have played very often. It's a strange one to be honest, progressive rock with a funky edge is not a sound I find attractive, but there are some good tunes here reminiscent at times of Kansas and the first three Journey albums. Laine's guitar synth work is adequate, but no where near Allan Holdsworth's classic 'Atavachron' album of ten years later. Perhaps it was just a matter of the technology of the day and parts of the album do have an otherworldly flavour ('Let It Grow'), but overall I find the material to be lackluster and uninteresting especially when things get down and funky.

In Summary
A&M supposedly asked Timo Laine to record a dance record and he refused, spelling the end of Symphonic Slam. Keyboardist David Stone joined Rainbow and appeared on Max Webster's 'Universal Juveniles' album, but where he's at now is unclear. Timo disappeared only to resurface after interest in the debut album began to bubble. He recently released a CD 'Her Fire' leaning more towards a hard rock sound with some tasty guitar work leaving his progressive rock days far behind.

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#1 | Harvey Mettle on December 28 2006 16:19:01
There's another LP credited to TIMO LAINE 'SS II' which is not mentioned on his site either. It was issued in 1978 on Lady Records and is basically a follow up to the debut.
#2 | Eric on October 14 2011 03:27:58
Found a clipping on-line showing these guys opened a show for Journey at the Golden West Ballroom in L.A. in '76. A perfect pairing I think....
#3 | tompa on February 11 2013 19:06:33
Bought this on CD in 1991, a Japanese release, the AandM Masterworks Series. And I only buy Jap versions of albums I think are really special (Armageddon, Captain Beyond). 'Let It Grow', 'Times Run Short', 'How Do You Stand' are outstanding tracks. Love that synthesized guitarsound.

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