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Restless In L.A.

Rev up your engines! Davie Allan, the king of ‘60s instro biker guitar rock is back with his finest album yet. Released by Bob Irwin and the team at Sundazed, Allan’s 2003 CD, Restless In L.A. rocks with a sense of renewed style and passion. Released nearly 40 years after his first ‘60s recordings, Restless In L.A. follows the sound and fury of Allan’s ‘60s guitar albums. Allan is often referred to as the king of “grunge surf” and commenting on the album from the incisive liner notes, the guitarist adds, “Not since the sessions of the ‘60s have I felt so at home and totally satisfied with an album.” Highlights of the 14 track mostly instrumental set include a remake of Allan’s big ‘60s hit, “Them From The Wild Angels”, “Kick Back” (described as ‘Link Wray meets Sandy Nelson’), Allan’s tribute to ‘60 spaghetti western honcho Ennio Morricone (“The Loud, The Loose And The Savage”) and superb Arrows cover of “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night” (a vocal track featuring Arrow bassist Bruce Wagner). Allan adds, “We have strived to make an album like this for eight years.” Kudos to Davie Allan & The Arrows for a job well done.



Mystery Tracks Archives Vol. 3
(Favored Nations)

The second individual release distilled from Vai’s massive 10 CD Secret Jewel Box Set, the 2003 release of Mystery Tracks Archives Vol. 3, is actually a collection of bonus tracks featured on various Japan-only releases of his albums, contributions to other artists’ works and assorted unreleased demo tracks. According to Vai, “It’s sort of like a golden scrap pile. Devour with a silver spoon.” The best songs here really rock and the whole album keeps up quite a musical pace. Tracks like the driving, melodic Hank Marvin / Jeff Beck inspired “San-San-Nana Byoushi” (from 1995) and the glorious symphonic rock sound of “Feathers” and “Misfits” (both from 2002) are just a few of the standouts here. Vai’s mostly instrumental electric guitar concepts just seem to improve, album to album. Mystery Tracks Archives Vol. 3 is fabulous throughout and while the cover art is cool, the only drawback is the tiny black text on the inside, which is way too minuscule reading for us aging boomers.



Heavy Meddle
(Big Shoe)

Long Island’s best instrumental rock fusion band, Magic Elf proves that the finest fusion not only rocks but also swings. The 2003 CD from guitarist / composer Carl Roa, drummer Dave Miranda and bassist Roy Altemus, Heavy Meddle is far and away their most inspiring studio release yet. Roa still sounds clearly influenced by the ‘70s sounds of Steve Morse and Pat Metheny while there’s also an interesting Martin Barre / Jan Akkerman guitar influence (check out the soaring “Godspeed”) with Roa’s superb electric guitar work extrapolating from a broad, classically-etched palate of instrumental rock styles. The all instrumental 9 track CD maintains a very high energy and spirit and provides many fine spins for fusion fans. Heavy Meddle features guest appearance Saul Zonana (bass) and Pat Cummings (mandolin) while the amazing cover art is a good barometer of the fearless, soaring music within. /



The original guitarist for L.A.-based pop legends Concrete Blond, James Mankey broke on the international pop scene back in the late ‘80s and he’s been going strong since. Earlier in 2003 Mankey and his CB bandmates released a 2 CD set on Ark21 of their 2002 Brazilian tour entitled Live From Brazil and Mankey follows that first ever live CD from his band with his 2003 self-produced solo CD entitled J.A.M. The basic sound follows the Concrete Blond musical fabric, but since Mankey’s solo CD is all instrumental there’s plenty of musical scenery for the imagination to wander around. With some mixing assistance from his brother, famed engineer Earle Mankey and cover art inspiration from Concrete Blond singer Johnette Napolitano, J.A.M. is evocative rock-guitar instrumental music at it’s finest. Mix one part Link Wray and Davie Allan with Mankey’s far-out musical imagination and you come away with a potent instrumental brew. Mankey’s studio wizardry is legendary and he makes the most of his do it yourself expertise combined with his legendary skills on all forms of guitars including Fender Strat, Mosrite, Martin, Gibson SG, Steinberger and Gretch Country Gentleman guitars. Written and performed entirely by Mankey, J.A.M. is instrumental guitar rock with a bold new vision.


High Side Of Lowdown
(Northern Blues)

From the liner notes of his latest album on the Canadian Northern Blues Music, guitarist James Cohen states, “With the release of this album, I am reflecting upon years of hard work towards understanding flamenco, as well as to my roots in rock and blues.” Also in the notes, Cohen cites a number of great gypsy jazz guitarists who clearly influenced his captivating rapid-fire flamenco guitar technique including Tomatito, Miguel De La Bastide, Vicente Amigo, Paco De La Lucia in addition to rock and jazz legends Keith Richards and Django Reinhardt. Bursting with eleven incredible flamenco and tango flavored guitar tracks, High Side Of Lowdown finds Cohen in the musical company of top players like Tony D. (steel string guitar), Devin Johnston (percussion), Stu Watkins (bass) and Richard Bell (keyboard player in Janis Joplin’s Full-Tilt Boogie Band). In the spirit of guitar greats like hot-jazz master Django Reinhardt, the all instrumental High Side Of Lowdown really swings and conjures up a tasty array of acoustic-based jazzy and bluesy flavored flamenco guitar originals. In addition to his fine guitar playing, Cohen is also acclaimed for inventing the VKO MundoBeat—the world's only flamenco and worldbeat metronome—a product used and endorsed by such flamenco stars as Ottmar Liebert, Jesse Cook and Miguel de la Bastide. /


The Moon Is Falling

On the rise both as a session player and as a solo artist, guitarist Joel Hoekstra released his second solo album in 2003. An adventurous jazzy, rocking guitar instrumental album that will appeal to fans of progressive guitar heroes such as Frank Zappa and Alan Holdsworth, The Moon Is Falling blends 14 tracks of skillfully executed jazz-rock tracks. Recorded in California, New York and Chicago, the album features top support players including Virgil Donati (drums), Ric Fierabracci (bass) and Chris Grove (keyboards). A native of the Chicago area, Hoekstra added to his stellar reputation recently playing in Jim Peterik’s World Stage band as well as in the off-Broadway production of Love, Janis. Adding to his session credits, Hoekstra has also played alongside guitar great Sam Andrews and Big Brother and the Holding Company as well with The Turtles. The follow-up to Hoekstra’s debut album, Undefined, 2003’s The Moon Is Falling is a superbly recorded CD of imaginative, kinetic and often daring guitar-driven sounds.

Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed in and 20th Century Guitar. Send to P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249

Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by Send to: CD Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein, P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249