CD Review: Anton Fig - Figments

The legendary drummer releases his first solo album.
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While Anton Fig may be best known to most people as the longtime drummer in David Letterman's band, he has had a lengthy career as a session player and, sometimes, touring band member. Fig's resume reads like a who's who of popular music and includes the likes of Kiss, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger. He has also been a band member, most notably with former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley in Frehley's Comet and more recently with Joe Bonamassa.

Fig is also a songwriter and, over the years, he managed to accumulate a large bank of unused songs. He decided to put those to good use in 2002, releasing his first solo album, Figments, in limited edition form. The album, which featured guest appearances from many of Fig's musician friends, had been out of print, but is now available again.

The album opens with a pair of Blondie Chaplin-sung numbers, "Home" and "Hand On My Shoulder." The former incorporates African drumming and has a world music feel not unlike Peter Gabriel. Chaplin gives a soulful vocal on the track. The latter features jangly guitars over a lush synth backdrop and instantly recognizable background vocals from another former Beach Boy - Brian Wilson.

Fig's Letterman band mate, Will Lee, provides bass and Ivan Neville delivers a strong vocal on the pop funk of "Inside Out," while the late Richie Havens' rich voice elevates "More Than Friends" above its smooth jazz backdrop. Fig has a mini reunion with Ace Frehley and Richie Scarlett on the Zeppelinesque "Know Where You Go." Sebastian Bach gives a powerful vocal and Frehley adds his distinctive lead guitar to this heavy psychedelic-influenced rocker.

Al Kooper and the late Donald "Duck" Dunn feature on organ and bass respectively on the bluesy funk of "Anyway That You Want Me." Stephanie Christianis gives a potent vocal on this melodic, funky track. The album closes with a powerful, instrumental version of "Know Where You Go," this time with Oz Noy on lead guitar. Noy's leads are different than Frehley's, but do an excellent job of replacing the vocals from the previous version and help end the album on a strong note.

Fig shows off his songwriting as well as his musical chops on this impressive debut. Fig plays multiple instruments himself and, where he doesn't, he has an all-star musician in his place. All this, plus a strong set of songs make for an excellent solo debut from this legendary drummer.