Gamma: What’s Gone is Gone – A Dive into the Elektra Years (1979-1982)
Please watch the video above for the full review
This set, released on HNE Recordings, an imprint of Cherry Red, is a treasure for both fans of Gamma and those new to this band fronted by guitar hero Ronnie Montrose..
Inside the Box Set
This clamshell box is a concise collection of Gamma’s three albums – Gamma 1, Gamma 2, and Gamma 3. Faithful to the original vinyl releases, the backs of the CDs are exact replicas of the vinyl albums from the period. The booklet accompanying the set is relatively straightforward, primarily detailing the inner sleeves of the vinyl versions. Each album contains bonus tracks – mainly mono single edits and a dash of memorabilia.
How Does It Compare?
Now, if you are already a Gamma enthusiast, you might be familiar with the Rock Candy releases from around 2013-14. This is where the comparisons get interesting. The Rock Candy releases are more elaborate and accompanied by extensive booklets full of information and the stories behind the music. If you have these in your collection, you might not find the new box set as essential.
The Albums and Their Sound
Gamma, led by the legendary Ronnie Montrose, is known for its distinct sound. The first album, Gamma 1, released in 1979, always had an unusual production. The vocals were too loud, and the drums felt peculiar. However, this album houses some gems like ‘Fight to the Finish’ and ‘Ready for Action’. The Rock Candy release had better mastering, and, in my opinion, sounds better than the new box set version.
Gamma 2 is often celebrated by fans, thanks in part to its stunning album cover. With tracks like ‘Mean Streak’, ‘Four Horsemen’, and ‘Voyager’, this is where Ronnie Montrose’s iconic guitar sound truly came into its own. The remastering in both the Rock Candy and the new box set versions is similar, as both were mastered by Andy Pearce.
My personal favorite is Gamma 3, which, although not universally loved due to its heavy keyboard sound, allowed Montrose room to explore his guitar playing. Tracks like ‘Mobile Devotion’ and ‘Condition Yellow’ are excellent examples of why Ronnie Montrose is considered one of the best guitarists of all time.
So, Who Is This For?
If you are a seasoned Gamma fan with the Rock Candy releases in your collection, the new box set might not be necessary. However, if you are new to Gamma or have just discovered Ronnie Montrose and his electric guitar, this box set serves as a great entry point. While the booklet doesn’t offer historical background, it delivers the music at an attractive price point.
In conclusion, Gamma: What’s Gone is Gone, The Electra Years 1979-1982 is a worthwhile addition for new fans looking to dive into the electric world of Gamma and Ronnie Montrose.
Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine