Nothin' Sirius

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1977)

- Marcus Duke -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Lindsay Gillis -- guitar, bass

- Alan Hugo -- drums, percussion

- Pat Ingrahm -- sax, flute

- Clyde Robertson -- bass


  supporting musicians:

- Tim Ayres -- bass

- Cliff Hugo -- bass

- Chuck Wine -- percussion



- Broken Toys (Lindsay Gillis)

- Marcus Duke (solo efforts)

- Gillis & Bell (Lindsay Gillis)

- The Love Machine (Pat Ingrahm)

- Streets (Marcus Duke)

- Zweebop (Marcus Duke)







Genre: jazz-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Monkey Business

Company: Pelican / Baby Grand

Catalog: SE 1005

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6145

Price: $50.00

Working independently and under the "Nothin Sirius" nameplate, keyboardist Marcus Duke, guitarist Lindsay Gillis, drummer Alan Hugo, sax player Pat Ingrahm, and bassist Clyde Robertson were all part of  Ron Fair's short-lived, but prolific Baby Grand tax scam label.  Given the number of Baby Grand albums they played on and recorded, I'm guessing they constituted the label's version of a house band.  Imagine Stax Records' Booker T & the MGs , but with a jazzy orientation.  


And like most of their outside and solo projects, 1977's "Monkey Business" featured a series of six mildly entertaining jazz-rock flavored instrumentals.  These guys were clearly all talented musicians, but admittedly the genre wasn't something I find particularly enjoyable. You also got the feeling that this was one of those production line projects written and recorded quickly, before moving on to the next tax scam project.  


This time out Duke and Gillis were responsible for the bulk of the material and like much of gthe Baby Grand catalog, extended instrumentals like 'Nothin' Sirius', 'D'Navor's Dream' and 'Fly Souffle' were professional and as in the case of the lone non-original 'The Visitor', occasionally mildly entertaining.  Personally I didn't hear a single track that jumped out at me.  I suspect an hour after hearing the album I'd be hard pressed to match the titles with any of the performances.  As a tax scam release it was also hard to see these tunes as anything more than "product" written to fill and album and score the resulting IRS write-offs.  Certainly not the worst release on Baby Grand, but not one you are liable to repeatedly slap on the turntable.


"Monkey Business" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Nothin' SIrius (instrumental)   (Marcus Duke) - 6:03  rating: *** stars

I'm not a big fan of drum solos, so opening up with a brief Alan Hugo solo put 'Nothin' Sirius' at a disadvantage in my listening book.  From there the song revealed itself to be one of the album's prettier compositions with some nice Pat Ingrahm sax work, one of guitarist Lindsay Gillis' longer solos, and even occasional burst of Carnival whistle.  Ultimately it wasn't anything more than background music, but I could listen to this while on hold waiting for technical support.

2.) The Visitor (instrumental)  (Roland Vazquez) - 6:58  rating: *** stars

The lone non-original, 'The Visitor' was a breezy, Pat Ingrahm flute powered tune.  Bassist Clyde Robertson got a chance to showcase his ample chops here.  Kind of a film soundtrack vibe going on with this one.

3.) D'Navor's Dream (instrumental)   (Marcus Duke) - 6:20  rating: *** stars

Adult contemporary jazz ?   'D'Navor's Dream' found the quartet turning their attention to bedroom funk. When Ingrahm's sax solo kicked in the tempo picked up significantly and the tune actually became momentarily entertaining.  


(side 2)
1.) Fly Souffle
(instrumental)   (Lindsay Gillis) - 8:19  rating: *** stars

Opening up with some interesting Lindsay Gillis work, the instrumental 'Fly Souffle' had a Fairport Convention-meets-world-music vibe.  In then switched into a pretty, flute powered ballad which gave each band member a shot at the spotlght.

2.) Interlude/Crystal Matter (instrumental)   (Lindsay Gillis) - 4:16  rating: *** stars

Opening 'INterlude/Crystal Matter', Marcus Duke's keyboards always remind of something Vince Guaraldi might have crafted for a Peanuts soundtrack.  Great if your a fan of the genre, otherwise you'll find it irritating.

3.) Bolshoi Blues Waltz (instrumental)   (Marcus Duke) - 7:05  rating: *** stars

'Bolshoi Blues Waltz' started out sounding like a Robert Fripp outtake, morphed into a mildly funky showcase for Pat Ingrahm's sax, and then bounced into vaguely Steely Dan territory.  The track seems way longer than the eight minute listed tracking time.





Genre: jazz-rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Atomic Cafe

Company: Baby Grand

Catalog: SE-2078

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6146

Price: $75.00


So I'm still puzzled how anyone would figure out this album was by the jazz-rock band Nothin' Sirius.  You sure couldn't tell by the album cover which gave you the distinct impression the band's name was Atomic Cafe ...   In fact I found this one at a used record store listed under Atomic Cafe.  Oh well, it didn't matter one way or the other since 1977's "Atomic Cafe" was a tax scam release which was never intended to sell, let alone the fact that musically it didn't amount to much more than a collection of lukewarm jazz-rock fusion moves.  Like their debut "Monkey Business", judging by the performer credits, this was essentially a collection of Baby Grand label "all-stars" including keyboardist Marcus Duke, guitarist Lindsay Gillis, drummer Alan Hugo, and sax player Pat Ingrahm.  The seven instrumental tracks found the group flaying around on some of the year's most yawn inducing jazz-rock fusion moves.  According the marketing scheme really didn't matter much.  Duke and company were clearly technically gifted guys, but not one of these seven tracks managed to generate much in the way of energy, or enthusiasm.  Best way to describe songs like 'Fresh Aires' and 'Nothing Atoll' - this was the kind of stuff you were forced to endure while on hold waiting for a customer service rep to pick up the phone and subsequently insult you for not having bought into the warranty program.


I'm sure there are folks out there that will love this stuff, but I've got to be honest and tell you it did absolutely nothing for me.  Not commercial enough for my ears, yet most of it probably wasn't experimental enough for folks with an interest in the jazzier side of the tracks.   


"Atomic Cafe" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Atomic Cafe (instrumental)   (Marcus Duke - Tim Ayres - Alan Hugo) - 3:50    rating:  ** stars

If you love cheesy '70s-era synthesizers then the bubbly and mildly funky 'Atomic Cafe' was likely to be right up you alley.  On the other hand, when the track hit the sax-propelled mid-section it's always reminded be of a crappy late-inning Steely Dan song. Regardless, kudos to Lindsay Gillis for the cool guitar solo.   

2.) Fresh Aires (instrumental)   (Marcus Duke) - 5:30  rating: *** stars

Showcasing Pat Ingrahm's sax against Marcus Duke's somewhat discordant keyboards, 'Fresh Aires' was actually one of the album's more jazzy, but melodic compositions.  That said, it's likely to be too jazzy for most rock fans. 

3.) Nothing Atoll (instrumental)   (Marcus Duke) - 7:18    rating:  ** stars

The album's longest performance, 'Nothing Atoll' was one of those songs that just kind of floated along seemingly without any real direction, or purpose other than showcasing individual member's technical facilities.  Parts of the song were quite attractive in an anonymous adult contemporary jazz-rock style with Gillis turning in some nice jazzy-tinged runs, as did sax player Ingrahm.  Towards the end of the song the composition took a slightly funkier tact (in fact a welcomed change), though Duke's synthesizer sections did far less for me.  This was basically nice music for a snowy Sunday morning (looking outside my window this Sunday morning it happens to be snowing), though by the time the afternoon rolled around chance were you wouldn't remember a single note they played.  Sure did seem like a long song ...   

4.) Solitude (instrumental)   (Marcus Duke - Lindsay Gillis - Pat Ingrahm) - 2:35    rating:  ** stars

'Solitude' started out sounding like the band was warming up and unfortunately never managed to coalesce into any shape.  At time it actually sounded like these guys were playing three different songs at once - 'course maybe that was the intent ... ???   


(side 2)
1.) Occufuncture (instrumental)    (Marcus Duke) - 8:52  rating: *** stars

Giving credit where due, I'll admit to actually liking the extended instrumental 'Occufuncture'.  Musically this wasn't the album's most original effort, offering up a mix of lite-funk, jazz moves, and goofiness but the track had a decent groove with Gillis gurgling slap bass providing the song's secret weapon.  Gillis also turned in a tasty lead guitar solo on this one.    

2.) Is There Funk On Mars? (instrumental)   (Lindsay Gillis) - 10:10   rating:  ** stars

Great title, crappy song ...  'Is There Funk On Mars?' started out with a bunch of discordant, jazzy moves before shifting gears into something a bit more structured and melodic, though nothing you'd remember a couple of minutes later.  The highlight on this ten minute plus epic came in the form of Gillis' lead guitar - if you liked Jeff Back's jazzier moves (I don't), then this might be up your alley.

3.) Nicky Neutron Goes Fission (instrumental)    (Marcus Duke - Lindsay Gillis - Pat Ingrahm) - 1:40   rating:  * star

'Nicky Neutron Goes Fission' was as goofy as the title was.  Basically a minute and a half of guitar feedback, assorted sax blurps, and oddball percussion sounds ...   The school band my seven year old is in sounds better than this one.