Apparently the Mahavishnu Orchestra wasn't exactly the most forgiving of bands out there and apparently John McLaughlin alienated some of his bandmates feeling he was a bit too dominating. Out of this mess comes violinist Jerry Goodman teaming up with Jan Hammer to record an album together in 1974. Here Goodman plays more than just violin, he also plays guitar, and while you expect Hammer to shine on keyboards, he shines just as great on drums, which people often overlook. Both sing, and while singing is never their high point (after all it's the instruments they excel in), at least the vocals fit the music just fine, and it's only on four out of the album's ten cuts. Like Children was the results and the only album they did together, and became the first ever release on the Nemperor label. This album was recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, Colorado, a studio and ranch ran by Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago manager James William Guercio, as well as Trident Studios in London. Thanks to this album being partially recorded in Colorado, it's no wonder the cover bears some Rocky Mountain scenery and some nice rural, rustic shots of the guys on the back cover. But of course this is hardly some Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-type of folk-rock album.
You really can't go wrong with an album that starts off with an ingenious title called "Country and Eastern Music". Here you get that fusion influence, with Jan Hammer giving some great drum work, while at the same time his trademark Moog leads, a style that highly influenced many other fusion and prog rock keyboardists in their wake (you can be certain Happy the Man's Kit Watkins owes a lot to Hammer for his keyboard playing). Nice violin work from Goodman, and then the vocals kick in. I really like that phrase that went "Dance to country and eastern music". "No Fear" is 100% Jan, where he experiments with the Oberheim sequencer, so throughout this piece is a wonderful synth pattern. It's this style he would continue on his first solo effort, The First Seven Days (1975). "I Remember Me" is a more mellow and ambient piece with piano and Moog, plus violins and something called a violow (apparently a custom viola with cello strings). "Earth (Still Our Only Home)" has more of a funky sound to it, with Moog bass and vocals, which obviously has an environmental theme (no doubt inspired by the Colorado surroundings). "Steppings Tones" was written by ex-Mahavishnu guy Rick Laird, and the Mahavishnu version can be found on The Lost Trident Sessions. Here, of course, it's Jan and Jerry exclusively, without any of Laird's input on bass. I only know the version of Like Children, so I can't make comparisons. "Night" is an instrumental piece that starts off slowly, but I like how the intensity kicks and the drums and synths kick in, with more great violin playing. "Full Moon Boogie" is their attempt at rock and roll, and it works great because of their own quirks and tricks up their sleeves. The only song on this album a bit out of place is "Giving in Gently" because it's their attempt at soft rock which obviously isn't their thing. But regardless, this album demonstrates what can be done with just two guys and no outside help. They have no problem holding their own, and that includes the multiple instruments they play on! It's argued that Jan Hammer threw his credibility down the toilet a decade later by scoring for the TV series Miami Vice, and if his name gets you running thanks to that TV show, you'll be happy to know what he did a decade earlier was nothing like that! And this 1974 collaboration with Jerry Goodman, Like Children proves that, great stuff I highly recommend!