A double disc footnote in the heavy man's musical biography. There could be more but then that would be as massive as John himself is.
It's a paradox of sorts, to see a man of such grandiose stature as a one-dimensional figure, but that's how it goes for McCoy. What is Big Bad Bald Bearded Bass Basher if not an image for a person to hide behind? There's much more to him than just stint with GILLAN which the veteran's most famous for, and this compilation is only a feeble outline of one fantastic journey which took in many bands with just one constant, John's meaty 'n' melodic playing, as fierce now as many years ago. Quite a rollercoaster ride it is, from 1969's sax-licked rhythm-and-blues of WELCOME's "Walking Strong" to the hurricane-like "Cannonball" recorded with GMT in 2006. Yet these cuts aren't as far from each other as the 37 years in between may suggest, it's a matter of the bottom-line speed, which is not to say "Unreal" has no surprises - those are aplenty here.
The 30 compositions that the anthology's comprised of can be enjoyed at their face value, and that would be rather eclectic mix of styles, but adjust the low frequences of your player for the puzzle fragments to fall in their places. Still, even in the entire mosaic the gems like ZZEBRA's "Karrola", a high-octane fusion which could give McLaughlin a run for his money in 1973, will shine hanging on McCoy's bass runs. Obviously, John knows all the ways to go wild, yet he can be relaxed as well, and QUADRANT's "1953 Austin Somerset" is a panoramic slice of free jazz. It's these excercises that caught the ear of former DEEP PURPLE singer who asked McCoy to join IAN GILLAN BAND. The jazzy enterprise soon mutated in a hard rocking behemoth, GILLAN, represented here by four tracks, including concert take on quirky epic "M.A.D.", embellished with bass solo, all co-written with John and coming from the alternative mixes' collections the bassist released through Angel Air, the label he helped establish.
Through all these formations, McCoy remained a thing-in-itself having a band of his own, McCOY, before and after work with Gillan, its first incarnation from 1977 short-lived but documented in live version of Jimmy Reed' "Big Boss Man", while the second, from the '80s, with WELCOME's Tony Rees on vocals, comes much heavier on songs such as tremulous "Because You Lied" aimed at Gillan. Both line-ups feature Paul Samson on guitar, whose group, SAMSON, John produced and played with - sample his skills on catchy ballad "Tomorrow Or Yesterday" - and whose latter-day singer, Nicky Moore, he formed MAMMOTH with. Glossy yet spiky "Fatman" shows their mistake: to let image overshadow the music - yet again, that's how it goes for John McCoy. He'll hardly be remembered as the only bassist ATOMIC ROOSTER had ever had, 1980's "Play It Again" the testament to this, or the songwriter who composed "I Know A Place" for SUN RED SUN, the last ever smash Ray Gillen delivered before his untimely death - but John's not living in the past, even though he undoubtedly enjoyed unearthing some of the rarities gathered here. With an old sidekick Bernie Torme who he shared several bands with, GILLAN among them, McCoy's the same old sensual punk who can appear in a venue near you. But by then, having listened to "Unreal" and read John's own extensive liner notes, you'll have already seen him in full 3D.