On the subject of this guitarist people have quite a range of opinion -- between the fellow string-benders who kneel at his feet and the members of Herbie Mann's audience who used to stand out on the sidewalk whenever it was time for a Sharrock solo. Recordings by the man as a leader were plentiful during the later part of his career, but there are those fans who wished there had been more records earlier on when his playing was at its most blisteringly intense. Thus, fans might approach this session on the consistently artistically exciting BYG label expecting to have their minds blown. It is an album one wants to like, but it is as difficult to like as the losers at cheerleader tryouts. Not all the problems can be blamed on Big Sonny, but he does decide to lay out on guitar for nearly half of the first side's 17-minute opus, "27th Day," making his grand entrance instead on slide whistle. Uh, slide whistle? Does one really buy a Sonny Sharrock album to hear him play slide whistle? It is the equivalent of John Coltrane playing kazoo, although there are Sharrock pundits who have wasted valuable time analyzing the relationship between his slide whistle playing and his main ax. And like the waitress who shows up to find the entire kitchen staff dead drunk, Sharrock works here without any of the other musicians on board helping out in the least. With so many great players seemingly at the label's beck and call, why did Sharrock get saddled with the French rhythm section, who sounds as cheesy as an overdone un croque monsieur
toasted sandwich? As for the vocal pyrotechnics of Linda Sharrock, she proves many things, one of which is that she cannot sing along with a slide whistle. This type of freestyle, avant-garde vocalizing has its place and its quality practitioners, such as Jeanne Lee, but in the end it subtracts from, not adds to, the pleasure of enjoying Sharrock's playing. Of course, there are moments of quality guitar skronking.