Record Label and Music Spotlight 

JULY /
AUGUST 2004

  

 


LEE MICHAELS
on Shout! Factory

 


EASY RIDER
on Hip-O


FLASH
on Friday Music

 

JULY / AUGUST 2004
MUSIC & RECORD LABEL SPOTLIGHT


AJKE ENTERPRISES - A number of fine musicians join forces with Canadian drummer Aubrey Dayle on his new CD entitled My Id Featuring Aubrey Dayle. Players assisting the native of Jamaica on his 2003 World Fusion CD classic include Allman Bros. bassist Oteil Burbridge, Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid, jazz guitarists Ron Jackson and Jim Chapdelaine and Les Paul bassist Nikki Parrott to name a few. With Dayle handling the drumming, electric percussion and keyboards, the album summons up a playful mixture of jazz-rock and World Beat style instrumental fusion similar in places to Weather Report or Herbie Hancock. Recorded on Long Island, My Id maintains a consistent, jazzy groove and is never comes up short of creative and spontaneous musical ideas. www.myidmusic.com

ALTRA MIX
- Dave Halverson broke new ground on his ‘90s albums with Trance Lucid and he continues to forge ahead on the 2003 release of his solo CD Fragments Of What. Halverson remains masterful at conjuring up a variety of moods on his guitars and hi-tech recording gear with his added expertise on keyboards, percussion, samples and loops. A gifted guitarist who shares a sonic temperament with guitar giants like Fripp, Holdsworth and Metheny, Halverson achieves lift-off on a number of tracks here especially on the prismatic “In The Name of The Higher Quadrivium”, the big-beat Weather Report groove of “Omicron” and the sonic soundscape of “When We Were Young”. On Fragments Of What, Halverson steps further outside the jazz-rock framework with a fascinating CD that draws on all manners of ambient fusion and soundtrack oriented, synth and guitar-based instrumental music. www.davehalverson.com

BELLOWS MUSIC
- What do you get when you cross surf guitar music with Polkas? The answer is obviously Cruisin’ The Creek by Gary Sredzienksi & The Serfs. The whole thing would be a wild musical joke if it wasn’t so damn cool. Filed under Ethnic Instrumental Rock / Xtreme Polkas, the fourteen track Cruisin’ The Creek blends a wide range of instrumental sounds, from traditional Eastern European melodies (“Romanian Shopping Spree”) to Jewish classics (“Hava Nagilah”) and even classical (“Mozart Polka”). Supported by his rockin’ Serfs, including guitarist Chris Decato, accordionist Gary Sredzienski puts a zany new spin on the time-honored surf-rock sound with his excellent Cruisin’ The Creek. www.theserfs.com

C#2
- Released on the C Sharp Squared Productions label, Openground is a stellar jazz trio date from guitarist Giovanni Moltoni and his trio of fellow Berklee College of Music facility members Paul Del Nero (bass) and Bob Tamagni (drums). A showcase for Moltoni’s originals, the nine track CD works on a range jazz and guitar levels with Moltoni’s guitar work echoing the swinging spirit of Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel as well as the sonic impressionism of Miles Davis. Moltoni’s ringing electric guitar chordings and unusual voicings creates an open sounding, airy sound, and overall Openground keeps the interest levels high and brings a fresh perspective to the guitar trio format. www.giovannimoltoni.com

CANYON RECORDS
- When it comes to Native American flute music, it doesn’t get any better than R. Carlos Nakai and Canyon Records celebrates this great American artist with the 2004 release of In Beauty, We Return - The Best Of Nakai. Containing thirteen tracks from thirteen different albums featuring solo flute and collaborations with key artists like Paul Horn, guitarist William Eaton, The R. Carlos Nakai Quartet and more. In Beauty, We Return is an impressive introduction to the haunting and calming sounds of this fantastic traditional instrument. Having sold over 3.5 million records since the early ‘80s, Nakai has truly earned his stellar reputation as a major player in both the New Age and traditional folk music worlds. In addition to a fascinating track line-up, the CD features detailed liner notes and select color photos. www.canyonrecords.com

CYCLORAMA RECORDS
- Via Cora is the brainchild of guitarist Wayne McGraw and drummer Trent Anthony. The duo’s latest CD, Amelia is an atmospheric do-it-yourself instrumental music collection of soaring guitars and solid arrangements. Through the magic of exchanging digital files, the pair—with McGraw in Colorado and Anthony in North Carolina—crafted their nine cut opus, meeting up only a few times and finally in Colorado for the album’s mixdown. Amelia neatly fits into the New Age Americana and prog-light guitar instrumental category and there’s plenty of inventive guitar and enchanting rhythms to make if of interest for fans of both genres. www.cycloramarecords.com

EXPLORATION PROJECT
- Essentially the brainchild of guitarist/ composer Scott Rifkin, the NYC-based Exploration Project released their debut CD, Impossible Beauty in 2003 and now Rifkin follows up with the 2004 release of Visions And Abstractions. Imagine a hybrid blending visionary guit-architects like Frank Zappa or Fred Frith spiked with a side of Edgard Varese and you approach the bizarre sounds on Visions And Abstractions. Like Impossible Beauty, Rifkin’s latest also features guitarist Jeffrey H. Shurdut. Rifkin accurately describes his music “as being a conceptual abstraction” and in the spirit of pioneering NYC legends like Wendy Carlos and Philip Glass, Rifkin takes his avant gard electric guitar approach to the edge on both releases. Much like the eye of the hurricane CD cover art, the music on Visions And Abstractions is similar to being in the safe center of a sonic storm, watching the musical mayhem unfold around you. www.cdbaby.com/cd/scottmrifkin

FRIDAY MUSIC
- After he left Yes—paving the way for the arrival of Steve Howe and The Yes AlbumPete Banks formed Flash. This early 1971-era Yes offshoot band is still best known for their first album which featured ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, making it the first major Yes offshoot project. With one stunning song after the next, the first self-titled Flash album remains a defining moment from the heyday of progressive rock. Kaye was out after the first Lp and the loss was palpable. Despite a great lead singer in Colin Carter and the crack rhythm section of Mike Hough and Ray Bennett, who would eventually carry the band’s name on himself with mixed results, Flash was in fact, over in a flash. Their reissues were available for years on One Way Records and in 2004 both the first Flash album and the band’s third ‘73 Lp, Out Of Our Hands were combined on one CD by the new PA.-based reissue label Friday Music. Clearly a fan-based effort, this Friday reissue features ardent liner notes, that ‘flash’ artwork, although no lyrics. Perhaps the best thing here is the excellent remastering and in your face sound quality. Legendary albums in their own right, thirty years on, this CD also reminds how adept Squire and Anderson were at maximizing the Pete Banks guitar sound on those first two classic Yes albums. www.fridaymusic.com

GEFFEN / CHRONICLES
- Elvis, Little Richard and Carl Perkins were essential during the development of rock ‘n’ roll music, but it was really Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly that helped transform it into a pop art form. Their huge influence on The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Rolling Stones notwithstanding, Chuck and Buddy made numerous recordings in their own right back in the ‘50s that remain pillars of rock till present times. Now in 2004, the 50th anniversary of Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”, Universal Music Group have reissued a number of key rock ‘n’ roll landmark albums for their Rock ‘N’ Roll 50th Anniversary Edition series. Leading the way on Geffen / Chronicles is a top notch reissue of the 1957 debut album from Buddy Holly & The Crickets, entitled The Chirping Crickets. Produced by the illustrious Norman Petty, the one and only Buddy Holly & The Crickets album remains a pop blueprint for aspiring musicians. Released in 1957 on Brunswick Records, the original Lp contained a number of key Holly tracks including “That’ll Be The Day” while this 2004 CD reissue adds on the A’s and B-sides to a pair of singles that followed the release of The Chirping Crickets—“Think It Over” b/w “Fools Paradise” and “It’s So Easy” b/w “Lonesome Tears”. After Holly & The Crickets hit number one with “That’ll Be The Day”, Holly signed to Coral Records as a solo artist for the early 1958 release of Buddy Holly. With both The Crickets and Norman Petty in tow, the Buddy Holly album rocked with hit after classic pop hit including “Rave On” and “Words Of Love” to name a few. UMG’s 2004 reissue tags on three classic Holly rarities including “Take Your Time”, “Now We’re One” and the Bobby Darin-composed “Early In The Morning”. Like The Chirping Crickets, the 2004 expanded edition reissue of Buddy Holly features a sixteen page CD booklet, new and original artwork and liner notes, bonus tracks and an amazing range of timeless pop music. In addition to their Holly remasters, Geffen / Chronicles / UMG also offer up a 2004 CD upgrade of the debut album from rock pioneer Chuck Berry. Entitled After School Session, the album release from May 1957, contains a number of Berry classics like “School Day”, “Too Much Monkey Business” and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”. Berry was also featured on the album Rock, Rock, Rock—often referred to as the genre’s first soundtrack album and interestingly the first album ever released on Chess Records. Released in December 1956, the “jukebox musical” movie featured ground breaking performances by Berry, The Flamingos and The Moonglows, while UMG’s 2004 Rock, Rock, Rock reissue adds in cuts by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, Johnny Burnette’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio and Alan Freed & His Rock ‘n’ Roll Orchestra. In addition, Geffen / UMG have also done a fine job on their 2004 reissue of St. Louis To Liverpool—Berry’s 1964 Chess Lp release. Rounding out their Rock ‘N’ Roll 50th Anniversary Edition series, Geffen have also reissued Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger—a November 1960 Chess Records release from Bo Diddley and Rock Around The Clock—a December 1955 album from Bill Haley And His Comets featuring the title track that started it all! Each of these 2004 Geffen / Chronicles CD remasters featuring Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bill Haley offer key bonus tracks, original art, extended liner notes and more making each CD a definitive and essential rock and roll remaster. www.umusic.com

HIP-O / UME
- As Thunderclap Newman say in their classic, there was indeed “Something In The Air” back in 1969. That song, and a bunch of other great tracks were added to the original soundtrack of Easy Rider, released in early 2004 as a double CD Deluxe Edition on Hip-O. There’s also an amazing essay on the making of the counter culture film classic that not only roused a whole generation of rock fans, but in fact put the film’s stars—Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson—on the map. Commenting on the concept of the original Lp back on ABC Dunhill records, Fonda recently stated “It was his (Dennis Hopper) record collection and some of mine, that’s what it was.” In fact, Crosby Stills & Nash were going to do an actual soundtrack, but as the liner notes reveal Buffalo Springfield founder Steve Stills was so blown away when Fonda showed him the film the way it was first planned—with the solo debut / original title track from Roger McGuinn, along with FM classics from The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf and more—he said, “We can’t even get near that.” With souped-up original cover art and a bevy of rock classics featuring The Who, Richie Havens, Young Rascals, Moody Blues, Chambers Brothers, Flying Burrito Brothers and much more—all associated with the counter-culture rock scene of the late 60s. Hip-O’s double CD reissue Easy Rider lives up to it’s reputation as one of the definitive counter-culture film soundtracks of the ‘60s. www.hip-o.com

IAJRC
- It’s fair to say that many of the great jazz guitarists of the 1930’s and ‘40s never received the same recognition as legends like Charlie Christian and Eddie Lang. The International Association Of Jazz Record Collectors rights that wrong with the release of their Guitar Rarities - Volume One. Liner notes by Dwight Deason sheds light on these ‘behind the scenes’ heroes of the early jazz guitar scene. Among the guitarists featured are Bobby Sherwood—father of Yes guitar great Billy Sherwood—who is represented playing guitar on a pair of 1938 recordings with violinist Harry Bluestone. Other early jazz guitarists given long overdue recognition here, on various recordings from the ‘30s and ‘40s, include U.K. guitarist Albert Harris with fellow guitarists Ivor Mairants and Bert Thomas, George M. Smith, Frank Victor with Harry Volpe and all the various players surrounding them on these nearly forgotten sides of embryonic guitar history. Intensive liner notes, detailed discography and eye-opening photos make this a classic reissue CD of historic guitar lore. www.geocities.com/IAJRC

KULTUR
- Subtitled A Musical Journey Through Spain, this four hour DVD traces the evolution of the Spanish classical guitar from the 1500’s up to present day. And who better to sing the praises of the finest nylon string guitar repertoire than classical guitar master Julian Bream. This outstanding Kultur DVD merges scenery of the beautiful Spanish countryside with a fascinating history of Spain’s rich guitar culture. Originally an eight part series produced by Laurence Boulting and directed by Barrie Gavin, Guitarra! is in vogue with Bream’s masterful classical guitar technique and performance. Comfortably set amidst a backdrop of music history and cultural landscapes, Bream is outstanding on both Vihuela and Baroque Spanish Guitar. In addition, in chapter four Bream is joined by Flamenco master Paco Peña, who performs and talks with Bream about the origins of Flamenco. A compelling tale of Spain’s juxtaposed history and guitar culture, Guitarra! is essential viewing for all guitarists and Bream enthusiasts. www.kultur.com

JAMES MARRON
- Classical guitar performance is a musical art form best left to masters like Ohio-based James Marron. In 1998, Marron released his first collection of new music for solo guitar, entitled Spring Rising and in 2003 he followed with Six Poems For The Angels. The self-produced CD finds Marron interpreting solo guitar works by South American classical guitar masters such as Antonio Lauro, Agustin Barrios and Jorge Morel. The CD rounded out by Marron’s six part, seventeen + minute title track and the set closing “Sunburst”, written by American Andrew York, who’s also a member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. While the music on Six Poems For The Angels clearly falls into the classical realm, Marron’s expert grasp of Latin American rhythmic textures, folkloric material and sophisticated jazz harmonies adds to the experience. The CD also features Marron’s intriguing liner notes on the artists covered along with a description of each composition. Marron’s impressive guitar technique suits the complex nature of the repertoire making Six Poems For The Angels a fine choice for classical guitar enthusiasts. www.jamesmarron.com

TIM MIELAK - With so many guitarists immersed in the big beat sound of techno loops and percussion, it’s refreshing now and again to hear a cleanly played distorted sounding electric guitar on it’s own. Tim Mielak does all that and more on his self-produced CD Soliloquy. Describing his recording method, Mielak adds, “I have been working on the ‘guitar only’ texture for some time. It really poses a unique opportunity to present a different flow. Without percussion, conveying pulse becomes the sole responsibility of the two guitars. That makes it difficult to drive hard but is very conducive to a more meditative feel.” Soliloquy offers a fresh new take on the direction where hard rock legends Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower were coming from back in the ‘60s and ‘70s with Mielak adding a post-modern avant prog-rock twist. Commenting on his Modulus Genesis guitar, the guitarist adds, “I used a variety of Modulus Genesis guitars. I favor the G2 but I have a great G3 CT that gives me a slightly fatter sound. I used compression specifically to bring up a wider frequency spectrum and a pretty aggressive chorus to move into stereo. After mixdown, the mastering engineer added a little post-production compression, some dynamic excitation, and some hall reverb.” With his deft neoclassical metal edge, Mielak keeps up the intrigue with some tastefully sustained lead work underpinned by his steady picking and streaming guitar rhythm tracks. www.cdbaby.com/cd/timmielak

MODERN SHELLAC
- The liner notes for the 2004 Richard Bennett album Themes From A Rainy Decade were written by none other than his advocate, Dire Straits founder Mark Knopfler who adds, “For almost ten years now I’ve felt very lucky having Richard Bennett as a pal and as a member of the band.” In his liner notes, Knopfler is right on the money describing Bennett’s guitar approach as a mix of the early ‘60s U.K. beat group sound of The Shadows mixed together with a healthy dose of American roots and rock music—from Hillbilly to Hawaiian. Bennett skillfully assumes all the solo guitar work and his memorable melodies and arrangements at times evokes the guitar spirit of both Hank Marvin and Mark Knopfler. For his solo CD debut, Bennett is joined by top players such as guitarists Al Casey and George Bradfute, bass player Gary Tallent and a range of drummers and keyboardists. Richard Bennett’s early ‘60s guitar influences take off in full flight on Themes From A Rainy Decade, and a clear respect for timeless country / jazz picker Chet Atkins adds a further sheen to his guitar lover’s dream. www.richard-bennett.com

MOJO ROOTS MUSIC
- If you’ve never been to Hawaii you can still catch a wave with the latest CD from Maui-based Fernando Perez entitled Mojo Roots Music - Slide World Styles In Resophonic Guitar. A master of the resophonic guitar (also known as Dobro), Perez has masterfully built his 13 track slide guitar portrait around a range of blues, country and Hawaiian sounds, making for a unique instrumental music adventure that is as relaxing as it is musically crafty. Perez hails from Spain, so his intrinsic guitar upbringing coupled with his love of Hawaiian vibes and all forms of Asian and African motifs and rhythms gives a good rise to this mojo. www.mojorootsmusic.com

NOT LAME RECORDS
- Headed up by pop maven Bruce Brodeen, Not Lame Records retains their standing as one of the prime exponents of classic power pop in the U.S. today. Who knows...maybe Not Lame will come up with the next Beatles. Recent on the Not Lame label is The Last Day Of Summer, the third CD from Florida-based Barely Pink. Citing Big Star and Cheap Trick as big influences, guitarists Brian Merrill and Mark Warren are joined by the hot rhythm section of Michael Hoag (bass) and Stan Arthur (drums) and the resulting ten track CD nails the power pop sound on the head. www.barelypink.com
A 2004 CD currently playing on the Not Lame jukebox is Twenty Four Seven from The Well Wishers. Sounding greatly inspired by Matthew Sweet, The Well Wishers is basically the work of Jeff Shelton, who wrote, arranged and performed the entire 13 track CD with the help of pedal steel guitarist Tom Heyman and a couple of his guitar buddies. Sweet was always influenced by the sound of R.E.M. and likewise Shelton’s swirling guitars and vital pop drive echoes the Athens Alt-rock legends. There’s also a bit of ‘60s mellotron-inspired Moody Blues / Zombies type pop in play on Twenty Four Seven. Shelton was a key player in the now defunct Spinning Jennies and he likewise gets his duck in a row on his latest set. www.thespinningjennies.com
They’ve been compared to a number of veteran rock groups—from recent retro favorites like The Wondermints and The Gentle People to legends like The Who, The Move and even Brazilian rockers Os Mutantes—yet the French rock group Sweet Apple Pie break out of the mold and come up with something else on their 2004 Not Lame CD, Between The Lines. Recording since the mid ‘90s, this sibling power-pop quartet sings and harmonizes quite well in English, while drawing on the ‘60s influences like The 5th Dimension, songwriting giant Burt Bacharach blended with a fondness for infectious bubble gum pop. It’s well worth the time for pop fans to check out this delectable morsel of French pop. www.sweetapplepie.com / www.notlame.com

PARASOL
- Amazingly, Illinois-based Parasol imprint continues to come up with some amazing new millennium pop and their CD release of the 2004 self titled release by Time Well Spent is among their best this year. The hype behind the South Florida group claims great B-band (Beatles / Beach Boys) influences further exemplified by the incipient sonic echoes of late ‘60s works by Meddle-era Pink Floyd and pre-Argent Zombies with a late ‘60s West Coast Van Dyke Parks meets Burt Bacharach pop fling. Melancholic, intricate string-laden sounds for retro-pop enthusiasts—written and mainly performed by Casey Fundaro and Christopher Moll & company—Time Well Spent is a masterpiece that should gain in ascendance among the current retro-pop coterie. www.parasol.com / www.timewellspentmusic.com

REPERTOIRE RECORDS
- Best remembered for his Summer ‘75 song “Dreamweaver” and his ground breaking recordings with U.K. progressive blues rockers Spooky Tooth, singer-songwriter Gary Wright released his first solo album in 1971. That album, Extraction, was an all-around winning effort and found the N.J. native recording in the company of British rock royalty including guitarists Mick Abrahams and Hugh McCracken along with Beatles cohort Klaus Voorman and Yes drummer Alan White. For this first ever and long overdue CD reissue of Extraction—picked up by the German Repertoire imprint—Chris Welch penned some great liner notes shedding light on Wright’s years with Spooky Tooth and his friendship with George Harrison. As it stands, 33 years after it’s release, Extraction remains one of the finest rock albums of the early ‘70s. The booklet also includes the original album art work from the ‘71 Lp release on A&M. Available from the catalog of Collector’s Choice Music. www.ccmusic.com

SGV
- The country that brought you ABBA and Volvo, Sweden is also quite renowned for their guitar instrumental groups. One of the best of the current batch are The Ryders. Featuring a number of fine players including lead guitarist Kurt Fröberg, the 16 track 2004 Ryders CD, The Gold Turned Into Sand balances their guitar instrumental sound with vocal favorites like “World Without Love”, the Doc Pomus classic “Little Sister” and the Roy Orbison-penned “Oh, Pretty Woman”. Other standouts include the classic instro title track and the fantastic Lennart Clerwell penned “Still On Earth”. Commenting on the Ryders’ special ‘guitaristic’ approach Fröberg adds, “The title track is a very popular musical ballad written by Björn and Benny of ABBA and is from their musical Kristina from Duvemåla. I don't know if it´s being known in the US. We have made our own arrangement of that melody in a typical early 60's Scandinavian style. We have a mix of instros and vocals as we are a coverband and that is what we play at most gigs. We do make special instrumental gigs also, like The Spotnicks-festival in Sweden, The Shadows festival in Oslo and the Cliff Richard & The Shadows international Fan Meeting in Holland in April this year.” All in all, there’s certainly enough classic Euro-flavored guitar sounds and rootsy rockers on The Gold Turned Into Sand to make it of interest for fans of both ‘50s rock and the Ventures / Shadows guitar instro sound. www.ryders.se

SHOUT! FACTORY
- Back in 1968 L.A. native sun Lee Michaels released his all-time classic album, Recital to rave reviews. The sophisticated Hammond organ, tack piano-L.A. pop sound blended the finest pop elements of groups like Love and Buffalo Springfield and a new unexplained hybrid, yet it was too good to last and Michaels’ record label even encouraged Lee to deny his early art-pop leanings in favor of a more commercial formula, the likes of which resulted in the stooped stoned sing along “Heighty Hi” (a made for early FM hit if there ever was one) and a scorching, bluesy tour de force, “Stormy Monday” and later with slightly better results on his swan song, “Do You Know What I Mean”. The Shout Factory CD release of Hello: The Very Best Of Lee Michaels liner notes sheds little light on Michaels’ message or sentiments after all these years while a scant four tracks from his classic first two albums among the fourteen tracks here helps bring his legacy into the limelight again. By the way, long, out of print, crappy mid ‘90s CD reissues of Recital are going for nearly fifty bucks a piece on Amazon. Go figure...
A band rarely heard about in the U.S. anymore is Slade, who are honored with a twenty track best of CD on Shout! Factory. Get Yer Boots On: The Very Best Of Slade reintroduces the classic early ‘70s glam rock band who are best remembered for huge U.K. hits like 1973’s “Get Down And Get With It”, “Cum On Feel The Noise”, “Gudbuy T’ Jane” and more. Check it out and find out how these working class blokes from Wolverhampton, England had such a huge impact on ‘70s proto-punk rockers like The Sweet and The Runaways. In addition to their twenty track best of CD, Shout! Factory have also reissued a Slade movie on DVD. Slade In Flame features the group in a kind of ‘70s version of A Hard Day’s Night while depicting the pressures of successful rock band. The DVD also features an in-depth interview with Slade vocalist Noddy Holder. Also worth hearing on Shout! Factory is a comprehensive retrospective from country-pop music pioneer Bobbie Gentry, entitled Chickasaw Country Child: The Artistry Of Bobbie Gentry. Complete with twelve pages of rare photos and extensive notes, the 23 track CD kicks off with her all time classic “Ode To Billie Joe” and proves that—while she never attained the same level of success—her fine originals still fascinate like they did in the ‘60s. Featuring guitarist Dick Taylor and singer Phil May, The Pretty Things never achieved the high popularity of The Rolling Stones or The Who, yet the U.K. rockers had a major impact on both Jimmy Page (who signed them to his Swan Song label) and David Bowie, who covered them on his ‘73 Pinups. The 2004 Shout! Factory CD release of The Pretty Things - Come See Me collects 25 tracks from a number of the group’s Lp and single releases. Kicking off with their ‘64 single, “Rosalyn” and closing with the title track of their mid ‘70s album classic Singapore Silk Torpedo, Come See Me is a good retrospective from the band who gave The Who and The Stones a run for their money back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. www.shoutfactory.com

SPLINTERHEAD MUSIC
- A master of the seven string guitar, NY-based Greg Rapaport released his fourth solo CD, Azrael Block, at the end of 2003. It's acclaimed as his finest recording to date, and Rapaport performs all the writing, arrangements, production and engineering in addition to playing all the guitar, bass, and keyboard parts. Rapaport’s stimulating liner notes sheds light on his fearless combination of complex jazz guitar techniques and gutsy, instrumental prog-metal sounds. Rapaport cites both Allan Holdsworth and Yngwie Malmsteen among his influences and, blending in odd funk-metal riffs and angular metal progressions, the guitarist blazes away on Azrael Block. Although much of this music has enough power to blow the walls down, Rapaport also knows the meaning of shading and light and on “Interlude-A”, his playing is also reminiscent of Steve Howe. Rapaport’s expertise on the ‘chunky-sounding’ seven string electric makes it the perfect vehicle for his adventurous chord voicings, wide intervals and hellacious riffing. Rapaport’s self-designed CD artwork is quite unearthly and gives a good indication of the adventures within. All told, if you like your guitar fusion fast and furious and played with sonic depth and precision, Azrael Block fits the bill. www.gregrapaport.com

TRIOLA / STAR-CLUB RECORDS - Sweden has always been a stronghold of guitar groups favoring the early ‘60s Shadows / Ventures instrumental sound. The Swedish label Triola continues making guitar fans happy with the latest installment of their Guitar & Beat series. The 25 track Guitar & Beat Volume 5 compiles a wealth of beat-group instrumentals from a variety of different Swedish bands like The Moonriders, The Teenbeats, Flying Eagles and The Moonrakers. Although mostly unknown outside of Sweden, these bands have one thing in common and that is an appreciation for the music of Swedish guitar instro ace Lenny Clerwall. A prolific guitarist and composer, Clerwall can take credit for composing a number of these tracks and well as covering a few tracks here under his own name. Spanning the years 1981-2004, Guitar & Beat Volume 5 is fine introduction to the Swedish instro guitar scene.

WAFFLES MUSIC - Guitarists Dick Plant and Warren Bennett team for more musical adventures on the new Vibratos album, appropriately called Tornado Alley. Plant, of course is famous for his outstanding studio work with both solo Hank Marvin and Hank with The Shadows. A fine drummer, keyboardist and guitarist in his own right, Warren is the son of long time Shadows drummer Brian Bennett. Kicking the nostalgia element up a notch, the Vibratos sound is put to good use on a round of originals, while their choice of vintage ‘60 instro covers hits new heights on Vibratos instro covers of John Barry (“Cutty Sark”), Roy Wood (“Blackberry Way”), Percy Faith (“The Virginian”), Graham Gouldman (“Bus Stop”), Jeff Wayne (“Forever Autumn”) and Dimitri Tiomkin (“Town Without Pity”). Bennett’s catchy title track is flexed by a myriad of sonic detours and blends the best of the classic Shadows and Ventures sound. With their third album, Tornado Alley, The Vibratos hit the trifecta. www.vibratos.co.uk



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