Like many others, I first became aware of Jimmy when he joined Spock’s Beard as their live drummer so Nick could concentrate on vocals when he took over from Neal, and then after Nick’s own departure he stayed in the seat. I had seen the Beard a few times with Neal, and there was no way I was going to miss out on seeing them again without (especially as Enchant were support), and that night I was blown away by the drummer I had not previously heard of. These days he can also be heard with Pattern Seeking Animals, but I have also come across him working with Steve Bonino and know that while he is widely known for playing in prog bands there is far more to Jimmy than “just” that.

I get the impression this album was recorded over quite a period of time, as the musicians vary quite a lot with the only constant being Jimmy himself who provides all lead vocals and drums as well as keyboards. Something I find interesting is that Jimmy has obviously decided he is not a good enough songwriter to provide material for his own album, and has instead looked to others, with Greg Lastrapes providing four and Steve Bonino two along with other writers and two well-known covers. The major weakness of Nick D’Virgilio’s debut solo album, ‘NDV’, was the material included and by using other writers it has allowed Jimmy to display his diversity of styles, and how much he feels at home with being the frontman.

Although there are some very well-known friends performing here, as would be expected, this is not a prog album at all. Instead, what we have are a variety of songs performed in a rock/pop manner with Jimmy taking them wherever he wishes. This means the listener has no idea what is going on, as we may be in a world of funk, or something thoughtful or dynamic, with lush harmonies or a more direct approach. What is never in doubt is that Jimmy is a great singer, and it is something of a surprise to hear his vocals as here is someone who could happily be at the front of a stage as opposed to being hidden by the drums and one can easily understand why the Beard came calling. The two covers could not be more different, in that we get an angular take on Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” which I prefer to the original. With Mike Glendenning and Randy Jacobs on guitars, Bill Lanham on bass, he brings out an inner beauty I find somewhat missing from the version on ‘Remain In Light’.

However, the highlight is the closing number, Split Enz’ “Six Months In A Leaky Boat”. For those living outside New Zealand or Australia it will be difficult, if not impossible, to understand just how important this band was, and how Tim Finn and brother Neil (who formed Crowded House after their demise, another NZ outfit, whatever Aussies say) are regarded. Even though the song tells the story of how long it took pioneers to sail to New Zealand, it was felt by many in the UK to be about the Falklands War and was banned! Some people concentrate on the middle section of this song, which is the jaunty rock section, but it has an important intro and outro, and Jimmy has ensured these are given the reverence they deserve, with Ryo Okumoto providing a delicate piano introduction which is more direct than the original with less orchestration, but still with the sounds of the storm while the close out is by Otmaro Ruiz.

In many ways this song is a wonderful representation of what can be found on the album, as Jimmy has made it his own, with stacks of confidence. I love it and have heard the original countless times yet understand this is a homage. I sat and played this album three times straight the other day, enjoying it more each time as there is a warmth and companionship within this which only comes from someone doing what he loves, and not attempting to fit inside any particular musical box or expectations but doing what makes him happy. This needs to be heard by a much wider audience than progheads as this is a delight from start to finish. 9/10 Kev Rowland