Narada Michael Walden: Saint and the Rascal
Saint and the Rascal
Narada Michael Walden (drums)
Garden of Love Light (Wounded Bird WOU 8199)
David Sancious (keyboards), Will Lee (bass).
Composed by Narada Michael Walden.
Recorded: New York, 1977
Rating: 86/100 (learn more)
Narada Michael Walden's relationship with guitarist Jeff Beck is an important part of jazz-rock history. As drummer and composer, Walden was in part responsible for Beck's popularity in the genre. His contributions to Beck's famously popular Wired album are still admired to this day. Beck's leaning on former Mahavishnu Orchestra members Walden and Jan Hammer to produce material for him to play was no accident. He wanted to take that style of music and somehow find a way to make it more accessible. Walden knew how to help. Later he would go on to an award-filled producing career doing the same for many other artists, such as Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Starship and on and on.
"Saint and the Rascal" isn't quite up to the standards of Walden's material heard on Wired. But it is an effective piece nonetheless. The melody has an ominous attitude that Beck grasps tightly. But much like Walden's work during this time, at some point the music is going to get a bit cute and funky. Though Walden, Lee and Sancious seem to thrive in such territory, Beck is less successful in that milieu. Luckily this section is short-lived. Beck returns with the main refrain. The band speeds up the proceedings tenfold to rock us out.
Garden of Love Light was a transitional album for Walden. He was making the move from jazz-rock fusion to soul, R&B and pop. This would prove to be the greatest decision he probably ever made in his life. But the album itself was half pop and half fusion. This put a listener like me into purgatory.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky