Between 1986 and spring 2015, Anton Fig could be found on a nightly basis behind the drum kit of The World’s Most Dangerous Band and, then, The CBS Orchestra. Part of Paul Shaffer’s band for David Letterman’s NBC and CBS late-night talk shows, Fig would be glowingly acknowledged by the host as “Buddy Rich, Jr.” for his ferocity and prowess with his instrument. In 2002, the South Africa-born music great ventured out on his own to record his first solo album, appropriately entitled Figments. But it doesn’t just exist in your imagination – the album has recently been given a wide release for the very first time on the Planula label as Fig’s time on the airwaves has come to a close (for now, at least!) with Letterman’s retirement.
Fig produced and wrote or co-wrote all thirteen tracks on Figments, recording much of it in his home studio. Incorporating elements of rock, pop, R&B and world music, he naturally welcomed aboard an all-star roster of musicians and lead vocalists. Fellow South African native Blondie Chaplin, who has been knocking ’em dead on stage this summer singing and slinging his guitar alongside his old Beach Boys bandmate Brian Wilson, adds his distinctive lead vocals and/or guitar to tracks including the driving opener “Home” (also featuring bassist Bakithi Kumalo of Graceland fame), the moody “Utopia” and wistful “Hand on My Shoulder.” Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer joins Fig, Chaplin and lead guitarist Chris Spedding on “Utopia,” while “Shoulder” welcomes Wilson aboard, too, on the richly-layered background vocals. (An additional section of Brian’s unaccompanied harmonies are included as a “hidden” bonus track at the end of the album!)
Ivan Neville and Randy Brecker are featured on the soulful “Inside Out,” one of a number of tracks to showcase Letterman bandmate Will Lee on bass. The late Richie Havens joins Fig to sing the haunting “More Than Friends,” and Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach takes the lead on the rocker “Know Where You Go” with KISS’ Ace Frehley on lead guitar. Singer-songwriter Chip Taylor (“Angel of the Morning,” “I Can’t Let Go”) co-wrote and sings the heartfelt “When the Good Die Young” and lends his “Anyway That You Want Me” to Fig, who interprets the oldie with Al Kooper on organ, the late Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, and Chris Spedding and Jimmy Vivino on guitars. Trumpeter Lew Soloff of Blood, Sweat and Tears, who died earlier this year, is heard on “Heart of Darkness.” The instrumental “Tears” features Tony Cedras on piano/accordion, Chris Minh Doki on bass, Chris Botti on trumpet, and Andy Snitzer on saxophone. Felicia Collins and Sid McGinnis, both also of the Letterman band, drop in, too.
The reissue of Figments coincides with Fig’s return to the touring stage for the first time in decades, as he joins guitarist Joe Bonamassa Anton Fig’s “Figments” Features Brian Wilson, Blondie Chaplin, Ace Frehley, Al Kooper, More(with whom he has been recording since 2007) on tour. Anton Fig’s stylistically diverse collection of Figments can be ordered at the links below! It’s also available from the usual digital service providers including Amazon MP3 in the U.S. and U.K.!
- Home (Lead Vocals: Blondie Chaplin)
- Hand on My Shoulder (Lead Vocals: Blondie Chaplin, Background Vocals: Brian Wilson)
- Inside Out (Lead Vocals: Ivan Neville)
- More Than Friends (Lead Vocals: Richie Havens)
- Know Where You Go (Lead Vocals: Sebastian Bach)
- Utopia (Lead Vocals: Blondie Chaplin)
- 3:4 Folk (Lead Vocals: Richard Bona and Amit Chaterjee)
- Jan/Feb/March (Lead Vocals: Tony Cedras)
- Tears (Instrumental)
- When the Good Die Young (Lead Vocals: Chip Taylor)
- Any Way That You Want Me (Lead Vocals: Stephanie Christianis
- Heart of Darkness (Lead Vocals: Baby Monroe)
- K.W.Y.G. II (Instrumental)