Born in Galveston, Texas in 1943, Larry Coryell's early musical experiences were playing rock music with a variety of North Western American groups in the Seattle area in his teens after a family move there. Introduced by his mother to piano from an early age, he switched to guitar and that rapidly became his instrument. Initially uncertain of his talent, he nevertheless studied classical guitar following a relocation to New York City in 1965, though his earlier varied influences of Chuck Berry and John Coltrane were to pull him in different directions and 1966 saw him playing on drummer Chico Hamilton's “The Dealer” album as well as starting his own relatively short-lived psychedelic group The Free Spirits. Later in the sixties he played with the likes of Arnie Lawrence, Gary Burton and Herbie Mann, and then in 1973 he formed another band, The Eleventh House.
This album, which dates from 1975, does indeed feature two tracks by The Eleventh Hour on which he is joined by trumpeter Mike Lawrence, electric piano and synthesizer player Mike Mandel, bass player Danny Trifan, and drummer Alphonse Mouzon. They play ‘Cover Girl’, written by Mouzon, and Randy Brecker's ‘Rocks’. Of the others, his own The Eyes Of Love’ finds him playing all the instruments, while Tyrone and the title track ‘Planet End’ both feature a stellar line-up. On these two he is joined by Mahavishnu John McLaughlin on guitar, Chick Corea on electric piano, Miroslav Vitous on bass and Billy Cobham on drums. It was this latter line-up with whom in 1970 he had recorded one of his best-known albums, Spaces (available here as VMD 79345), before which he had toured with well-known names such as Jack Bruce and ex-Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell. These experiences of driving and powerful rock very much fed into his work and, linked with his jazz appreciation, helped form the bop-rooted jazz rock genre that has proved to be the bedrock of his career. From the opening track, it is drum and bass driven power all the way, with Larry's guitar punctuating. It is in turns angry, insistent, expressive, ugly and lyrical, and it is this variety that marks the album out. Having lived through the recent years that featured the playing of Hendrix, Clapton and Carlos Santana (three names that he tips his hat to on his website), Larry was in a time when audiences were primed for adventurous guitar playing, and this fuelled his experimentations. The longest track here, ‘Tyrone’, shows particularly how he has absorbed such rock influences and then extended them very much in his own way with tempo and tonal shifts, while by contrast ‘Rocks’ is more rooted in jazz bop history. Contrast and surprise continues with the acoustic guitar work on ‘The Eyes Of Love’, though there are rock figures here too. The nearly nine-minute closer, ‘Planet End’, gradually builds in intensity through a series of solos and mood shifts all very much led by Larry's fine and inventive playing.