Mickey Hart - The Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge and Back 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan MacIntosh   
Tuesday, 23 April 2002

Over The Edge and Back,
Rykodisc, 2002
| Performance 9 | Sound 8 |

No doubt, Mickey Hart made a lasting impression on rock music in his role as a drummer for the Grateful Dead. But in these, his post-Dead days, he’s also making an equally loud noise as a world music leader. His "Planet Drum" album, in fact, took home the first ever Best World Music Album Grammy, which solidifies Hart as being more than just a mere world music dabbler. Over The Edge And Back samples tracks from each of Hart’s seven world music releases, and presents a healthy overview of these sounds he so obviously loves.

You wouldn’t expect to hear didgerido sampled on any Dead disc, even though that band was more eclectic than you might have imagined, but on "Angola" (taken from the Supralingua album), Graham Wiggins’ work on the instrument can be heard in full effect. This track also features a vocal sample by the Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir, which is singing that certainly differs from Jerry and the boys.

Since Hart is primarily a rhythm man and not a singer, he’s ably assisted vocally here by Bruce Hornsby on "Down The Road," and by the vocal group Mint Juleps in quite a few places. Singing is usually a secondary element for Hart on these releases, since his main goal is remaining on an unending search for new and exotic global sounds. One of the clearest signs of this collection’s artistic success is that no two tunes on it sound anything alike.

"The Eliminators," from At The Edge, is a synth-driven electronic mood piece. On it, Jerry Garcia contributes a jazzy guitar synthesizer part, which comes off like a computerized oboe, and gives the tune a fusion-y Weather Report vibe. Then there is "Udu Chant," which has a distinctly jungle flavor, especially because of Airto Moreira's bird calls, whistles, conch shell, claps and chimes. "Temple Caves" sounds eerie enough to be confused with a "Twilight Zone" soundtrack.

Speaking of eerie, "Compound" is from "The Apocalypse Now Sessions," about which Hart has been quoted as saying, "The cats hate it." But then again, cats usually scare awfully easily.

"Sweet Sixteen," for example, is noteworthy for Ray Spiegel's vibes and for the army of clicking percussion noises on its intro. It’s listed under the name of the Diga Rhythm Band, and is from the "Diga" album. At one point, it sounds like rainfall, especially when the vibes and marimbas back out for a moment, leaving only clattering percussion.

Later, Spiegel’s vibes go into a Milt Jackson-y jazz sort of thing, set against the marching drums, to close out the track. It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before, believe me.

You may find yourself repeating, "It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before" again and again while listing to this release. Such words are high praise of Hart, who has developed into a real master at making (out of this) world music.

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