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A&E - With this 2007 DVD release on A&E, Paul McCartney makes good on the promise he made to his many American fans on his historic U.S. Fall tour of 2005. That tour with his current band is captured on this sweeping DVD and is packed with all the big hits and is played to perfection with Paul and his band, including guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray. In addition to featuring the concert there’s live sound check clips of the McCartney group on stage, including a sonic take on “Friends To Go.” Further DVD perks include the pre-show film, two documentaries and souvenir booklet with fab pics and notes by Cameron Crowe.

- With a background in jazz, rock and R&B, California guitarist J. Thompson follows up the release of his 2003 Romantic Nights album with the 2006 CD Inside World. Coming in under the smooth jazz genre, the album offers a breezy collection of guitar instrumentals. Some top players back Thompson including harmonica ace Norton Buffalo. Summing up his CD, Thompson adds, ‘My favorite thing about this album is that is has a retro sound - it’s new “old” music. It feels familiar to many of us who grew up with jazz, rock and funk but it is contemporary and fresh at the same time.’ On Inside World, Thompson breathes new life into the guitar world.

- Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero, a/k/a Rodrigo Y Gabriela are a hot commodity in the guitar world these days. The two Dublin-based Mexican acoustic guitarists blend their love of flamenco with a vast knowledge of Latin folk and classic rock. According to Gabriela, ‘To many music fans, it sounds like flamenco, and we’re great flamenco fans, but we don’t play it. The only similarity is that our music is guitar music and it’s very rhythmic.’ Produced by rock producer John Leckie, the nine track CD features some dazzling guitar pyrotechnics including an instrumental flamenco flavored reworking of “Stairway To Heaven,” which they claim was first inspired by another version of the rock classic by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. In addition, the CD set features a bonus DVD featuring interviews and live concert clips.

- With Tony Levin and Vinnie Sabatino as his rhythm section, Jon Durant surveys a wide range of musical soundscapes on the 2007 CD release of Flood. On Flood, Durant coaxes indescribable textures through crafty use of his 12 string guitar, here replacing the tuned percussives. Levin’s work on stick, upright and 5 string bass fits right in as does the hand drums of Vinnie Sabatino. With his arsenal of guitar textures and sounds, not to mention spiffy mellotron playing, Durant follows a kindred path of eclectic instrumental rock guitarists such as Terje Rypdal and Robert Fripp. Like Fripp and Rypdal, Durant is tasteful and experimental. Heavy Jazz for the new millennium, Flood is a fine showcase for Durant’s compelling skills as a composer and guitarist.

- Veteran jazz rock guitar ace Carl Verheyen is also a great singer and blends his skills on a mostly vocal nine track CD consisting of six vocals with three instrumentals. Always known for a sizzling performance and hot fretboard skills, Verheyen is in rare form on Take One Step. Verheyen’s sound has always had a similar tone as Metheny, but he’s clearly on a more rock-based path, a sound he adds to with his jazz-rock chops. In addition to the stereo CD of Take One Step, AIX add in a bonus DVD complete with an hour documentary on the making of the CD including an depth interview with Verheyen and drummer Chad Wackerman, along with 5.1 surround and stereo mixes. A high tech CD/DVD release to be sure, however the most impressive thing here is always Verheyen’s versatile guitar and vocal performance.

- Described as a unique soundscape created from experimental mixes from the band’s master tapes, Love is a unique collaboration between Beatles producer George Martin, his son Giles Martin and Cirque du Soleil. Recreating various Beatles songs from various mixes and edits taken the group’s session tapes, Love works on a number of levels and should provide a real kick for Beatles watchers. Of course, The Beatles were experimenting themselves back in the ‘60s with mono / stereo masters, outakes, instrumentals and the like but now that it’s fashionable, this ‘mash-up’ CD should strike a nerve with long time fans and casual observers alike. Or in Paul McCartney’s words, ‘This album puts The Beatles back together again, because suddenly there’s John and George with me and Ringo. It’s kind of magical.’

- He’s been described as the Salvador Dali of rock ‘n’ roll and the legacy of Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band is renewed on two early 2007 reissues on Astralwerks. An early cohort of Frank Zappa, Beefheart employed the talents of some wildly inventive rock musicians including guitarists Gary Lucas and Jeff Moris Tepper. Lucas is featured on both ‘80s Doc At The Radar Station and from ‘82, Ice Cream For Crow. Following Crow, Beefheart stopped recording in order to concentrate on poetry and painting, turning into a virtual recluse. As both these reissues point out Beefheart’s avant gard rock / jazz hybrid was a bit ahead of its time but in retrospect it holds up well and you can actually see what all the fuss was all about back then. Both reissues include 2006 liner notes from Mike Barnes.

BHP MUSIC - If Mozart played guitar and liked slamming late ‘90s dance music, he might have made a record like Junglization—the latest from New York’s Asphalt Jungle. Guitarist Brian Tarquin and Chris Ingram have been making some truly way out jazzy discoid electronica that sounds somewhat inspired by the late ‘70s disco instrumental sound of ‘70s dance music king Giorgio Moroder meets the mid ‘70s guitar sound of Curtis Mayfield as played by late ‘90s Jeff Beck. With a solid background in both soundtrack and television music, Tarquin is the master of funked up fusion and with his Beatmaster in full bloom, Tarquin lets it rip with symphony of funky rhythms and sounds. Inspired by the spray painted subway car imagery on the latest AJ CD cover, Tarquin’s electri-fried guitar playing heads up a steamy vision of urban blur that at once mesmerizes and paralizes.

BLOODSHOT RECORDS - Simply put, country music was never quite as cool as it sounds on the 2007 CD from pedal steel ace Jon Rauhouse entitled Jon Rauhouse’s Steel Guitar Heart Attack. Featuring Tommy Connell on all guitars including b-bender guitar, Rauhouse shines on pedal steel, lap steel, banjo, rhythm guitar and Hawaiian guitar. Balancing the guitar-based instrumental sounds, and adding to the musical zing on the 18 track CD, are vocalists Sally Timms and Neko Case, along with a range of drummers, bassists and other players. Abundant with inspiration from musical heroes from Les Paul & Mary Ford to instrumental icons Santo & Johnny, there’s something for fans of swinging jazzy sounds on this modern country pop classic. An authentic Rauhouse instrumental of Cole Porter’s “Begin The Beguine”—mixing horns and pedal steel—sounds like it could have been made 50 years ago. For musical fun and vintage magic it’s hard to beat Jon Rauhouse’s Steel Guitar Heart Attack.

BURGUNDY - For their first new major label studio album in over 20 years, America have a double album featuring a new studio album and a live CD reworking their huge ‘70s hits. Adding to the cutting edge pop luster, the 2006 release of Here & Now features expert production from guitarists James Iha and Adam Schlesinger. As far as material on the studio CD of the set, America founders Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell have come up with a dozen breezy, memorable pop-rock tracks that can stand up right alongside their ‘70s classics like “Ventura Highway” and “Horse With No Name”—two of 12 tracks reworked on the live half of Here & Now. Other guest artists appearing include Ryan Adams, guitarist Rusty Young of Poco and Stephen Bishop. Commenting on Here & Now, Schlesinger adds, ‘James and I are honored to be working with Gerry and Dewey. They write timeless songs and they are phenomenal singers and musicians, and we are having a blast in the studio. Plus we get to bug them for George Martin stories in between takes!’ Music buffs who dug the early America albums—including their George Martin produced albums—are strongly advised to check out the pop finesse in play on Here & Now.

- Hasse Bruniusson has long been considered one of the great drummers in his native Sweden and in fact, throughout Europe. The original drummer in ‘70s Swedish art rockers, Samla Mammas Manna, Hasse has appeared on dozens of classic rock and instrumental jazz-rock albums and in 2006 he released an impressive DVD entitled Hasse Bruniusson Proudly Presents: Flying Food Circus - Tour De Ville. Performing with his quartet live—with some neat special video effects—the 2 hour DVD is a fine example of instrumental Swedish art-rock music brought into the present day. Bruniusson was great in Samla just and like he did 30 years ago, he’s aligned himself with top players including guitarist Bobbo Andersson. Guitarist Roine Stolt also drops by for a visit. Like he did 30+ years ago with Samla, Hasse still emphasizes the ‘art’ in the term art-rock.

CAP - The trio from NYC based guitarist Nick Moran is a classic guitar/organ trio. Masterful at combining jazzy guitar solos with compelling improvisation, Moran’s roots maybe linked with rock players like Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, but on the 2006 release of The Messenger his easy on the ears be-bop fusion sounds much more inspired by the modern swing guitar sound of Pat Metheny and Pat Martino. In addition to his trio work, the Brooklyn based Moran also works as a recording engineer and producer, having worked on the new CD by multi-instrumentalist Sebastian Cruz.

CC - Once in a while it’s still great to hear a pop album that has it all. Melody, drama and the beat. Chalk one up for The Honeydogs and the 2006 release of Amygdala. Described by those in the know as defining a new take on ‘60s psychedelia meets Jobim and The Beatles on an NPR show, Amygdala follows the band’s last album, 2003’s critically acclaimed 10,000 Years. Once again, singer-songwriter Adam Levy is expertly backed by a tight band including Noah Levy (drums) and guitarist Trent Norton. When it comes to merging the best elements of ‘60s pop with the hi-tech definition of today, few groups match the expertise of The Honeydogs and with producer John Fields, they’ve hit a new height with these fourteen pop classics.

COTTAGE MUSIC PRODUCTIONS - Guitarist Garry Katz handles all the guitars, bass, drum programming and guitar synth work on his 2006 CD Straight On Till Morning. The New York-based Katz proves both adventurous and entertaining on the mostly instrumental CD released on his own Cottage Music Productions. Covering rock, jazz and fusion instrumentals with skilled hands, Katz is clearly on the right track here. Let’s hope he gets to further explore the sonic textures staked out here.

- Sting and lutentist Edin Karamazov put a new spin on the music of Elizabethan songwriter John Dowland on a new CD the pair describe as being “a soundtrack to Dowland’s life in words and music.” Dowland, who lived between 1563-1626, played his lute in the service of the kings, dukes and princes throughout Europe and was considered a rock star by the turn of the 1600’s. Over the years, Dowland has been interpreted by the greatest guitarists of England, including classical master Julian Bream. Now, with Sting reviving these 16th century pop songs assisted by Karamazov, the 2006 release of Songs From The Labyrinth offers splendid insight into the elegant pop of centuries past. Sting adds, ‘about two years ago my long time guitarist, Dominic Miller, gave me a gift that he’d had made for me, a lute - a 16th century instrument with lots of strings. It rekindled an interest I’ve had for a long time in the works of Dowland. Dowland was really the first English singer-songwriter that we know of and so many of us owe our living to this man. Those that are familiar with John Dowland normally think of him as being this melancholy, doom-laden character, but he can write songs that are absolutely joyful - full of passion and happiness. He has it all.’

DON’T HIT YOUR SISTER - Some people hate ‘new age’ music and others swear by it. When it’s done right—like it is on the latest from Maine based guitarist Sumner McKane—it’s a sublime restful musical experience. Ably assisted by bassist Joshua Robbins, McKane turns in a worthy fingerstyle performance on electric and acoustic guitars and keyboards. Having earlier established himself in the field of country music, McKane’s major influences include David Gilmour, Robert Fripp, Ry Cooder, the cosmic cajon sound of Daniel Lanois, spaghetti western band Lanterna and pedal steeler Bruce Kaphan. With the 2006 release of Two If By Sea, McKane’s guitar-based instrumental soundscapes establish him as a vital artist worth hearing in his own right.

DISCIPLINE GLOBAL MOBILE - DGM get right to the point with their 2007 double CD, The Condensed 21st Century Guide To King Crimson. Facts here to marvel at; 2 CDs around 80 minutes each, 32 tracks drawn from 13 studio albums (+ singles and mini albums from 1969-2003, six different lineups featuring 20 musicians). Such musical brilliance is the case with a group renowned for possessing chameleon like qualities. Fans still swear by the 1969 KC lineup with Robert Fripp and Greg Lake but the rest of the ‘70s was pretty cool as is the 1981-2003 group featured on disc 2. A tastefully annotated condensed booklet is equally cool sporting potent full color graphics that take a stroll down memory lane of the band that coined such terms as prog-rock and jazz-rock. Also up and ‘atcha from DGM in early ‘07 is The Collectable King Crimson Volume One, a well packaged double CD set, from restored mixes, pairing two mellotron soaked live shows from the unforgettable 1974 Crim lineup with with Fripp, Bill Bruford, David Cross and John Wetton.

DMG - In 2006, pop icon Dwight Twilley released an excellent studio album entitled 47 Moons. In late 2006 he follows up with his first ever live album—an 18 track live concert CD that more than lives up to Twilley’s legendary pop status. Live: All Access features a range of material including tracks from his late ‘70s debut Sincerely up to a smoking cover of “Better Watch Out” from 47 Moons. There’s also a Twilley band cover of the 1958 Larry Williams’ hit “Slow Down,” made famous by The Beatles. Recorded in August 2006 in Tulsa and dedicated to the memory of Barry Cowsill, All Access features Twilley on acoustic / electric guitars / piano, backed by a crack band of seasoned rockers including long time guitarist Bill Pitcock IV and backing vocalist Susan Cowsill.

DANCETONE - New York based guitarist Ray De Tone has several solo albums to his credit and his list of session work, film scores and touring is quite impressive. De Tone’s latest solo work is a well rounded collection of guitar-based instrumentals that covers a number of bases—from dreamy ambient soundtracks to bluesy funk-metal, to Latin prog and pop. Obviously De Tone writes songs with hooks and he considers his guitar work to be only a part of the big picture, adding, ‘I love working with all types of musicians and styles of music and I hope to broaden those opportunities in the future.’ On the 14 track Guitar Noir, De Tone’s guitar work will blow your roof off. If you like guitar instrumentals that rock, De Tone more than fits the bill.

DREAMBOX RECORDS - A legend of the pop flamenco scene, guitarist Esteban is paid honors with the 2006 release of Best Of Esteban. A master guitarist well known for his teaching, his own line of guitars, and now his own strings, Esteban works his magic on best of combining a range of original tracks with covers of “Besame Mucho,” “Here Comes The Sun” and Del Shannon’s “Runaway” on his best of CD. Esteban’s instrumental pop flamenco guitar sounds melts musical borders and in his own words speaks “the universal language of our planet.”

EAGLE VISION - Brian Wilson, no doubt enjoys being back in the limelight as his latest live DVD points out. Honoring his induction as MuiscCares 2005 Person Of The Year, MusicCares Presents A Tribute To Brian Wilson features Brian and his wonderful band backing up some pretty cool guest artists and musicians interpreting the music of Wilson including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Richie Sambora, Michael McDonald & Billy Preston and many more topped off by five set closing performances with Brian and his band. Despite Wilson’s undeniable reputation as being one of the greatest vocal arrangers in rock history, a pair of undisputed highlights here include instrumental covers of “Surf’s Up” by Jeff Beck and Wilson’s instro title track from Pet Sounds, with fuzzed out guitars of Nick Walusko. In addition Bon Jovi guitarist, Richie Sambora takes the lead vocal and also recreates Eric Clapton’s original guitar parts on a barnstorming cover of Wilson’s ‘04 “City Blues.” In addition to the 17 track show, the DVD also features an informing mini-documentary on the MusicCares organization.

GRAB A MIC - Not only does Phil Keaggy do a great job producing the 2006 CD from singer-songwriter Cheryl Bliss, but he also plays all the guitars and bass on her 11 track set. Dreamy and impressionist stuff, layered with Keaggy’s atmospheric guitar work, the CD is enhanced by some fine keyboard, bass and loop workings from Ms. Bliss. The CD comes with complete lyrics and is a good indication of how crafty Keaggy can be as a producing guitarist.

- Tennessee based Green Hill have a couple of cool Beatles tribute CDs on their label including a 2006 CD from pianist Pat Coil, entitled Yesterday: A Tribute To John Lennon & Paul McCartney. Performing a number classics, Coil also adds to the fun with instrumental covers of solo Beatles classics composed by Lennon & McCartney. In his notes Coil rightfully compares the Beatles song writing to that of Gershwin, Porter, Kahn and the like and he fleshes out his 12 track CD with a number of players and guitarists including Phil Keaggy, who appears on a couple tracks and adds some tasty vocals to a very McCartney-esque cover of “And I Love Her.” Green Hill also have another Beatles tribute worth checking out entitled The Beatles On Guitar, subtitled classic hits of The Beatles with guitar and string orchestra featuring Jack Jezzro.

- Renowned for his formidable electric guitar chops, Allen Hinds gets all soulful on his 2007 CD Beyond It All. The fusion chops are in evidence but there’s a soulful edge best heard on the CD’s only vocal, with singer Randy Crawford. Hinds is at his best on track six, “March 28th,” where he conjures up some edgy, atmospheric jazz rock guitar sounds. Described as a cross between Robben Ford and Jeff Beck, Hinds shows more of his southern roots on Beyond It All, yet he still gets some great tones from his guitars.

HIP-O -Before he started recording solo albums with the same energy that characterized his song writing in The Who, Pete Townshend released a batch quirky, brilliant music the likes of which have not been equaled. A lot of this music was centered around Townshend’s most celebrated work, Lifehouse and some of that music became the show piece for the musical vibe of Townshend’s circa ‘71 solo album Who Came First. Fittingly, Townshend’s first ever solo album showcased some of his most eventful, meaningful works and was recorded as a one man band. Perhaps this personalized musical approach led over to his second solo album from 1977, co-written with Ronnie Lane, an album highlighted by that album’s centerpiece, “Street In The City. Hip-O’s 2007 76+ minute release of from Pete Townshend: The Definitive Collection links tracks starting from Who Came First era with an array of various Townshend solo efforts spanning ‘72-’93. All of this backed up with fine liners, rare photos and CD discography.

- With the heady keyboard sound of Nate Wilson, the group known as Assembly Of Dust might be likened to the early sound of The Band. There’s plenty of chiming electric guitars from Adam Terrell and Wilson’s co-writer, lead singer Reid Genauer keeps rhythm on acoustic guitar. The Grateful Dead circa American Beauty sometimes come to mind. The songs are memorable and their first on Hybrid Recordings, Recollection bodes well for more musical greatness. Somewhere between beautiful melodic rock and bad-ass down home sounds, AOD lay down some impressive country rock tracks.

- Remember the melodic edge of Randy Bachman during the great BTO years? Well guitarist / singer Michael Lee Jackson hits the nail on the head with his 2006 CD on Immergent. Recently, Jackson turned from his lawyer career to playing guitar with singing legend Ian Gillan as well as launching a weekly online video channel called ‘ask the guitar lawyer.’ Ian Gillan lends his pipes to a several tracks here and otherwise, Jackson is backed up by some rocking cats including drummers Jim Linsner and Howard Wilson and bassist Rodney Appleby. The spirit of Deep Purple, BTO and Foghat are alive and well on Jackson’s excellent 12 track CD. Several tracks also add a jazzy, bluesy edge to Jackson’s guitar sound. Rockers and gear heads will dig Jackson’s approach to hard rock guitar and the CD also includes a complete list of the equipment Jackson puts to the test including his 2005 Jeff Beck model Strat.

- California guitarist Andre Marins blends his love of classical, jazz and progressive rock on his 2006 CD, Internal Dive. Combining well crafted arrangements, improvisational expertise with impeccable chops, Marins puts it all together and interestingly performs everything here all on one guitar. A well rounded performance, Internal Dive also sounds great. Describing it as ‘a real and surreal introspective into one of my voices through the guitar’, Marins further comments, ‘When I put this album together, I wanted it to reflect a variety of compositions that would evoke different sounds on the instrument. And, I also wanted to have it played with a pick, on a six steel-string acoustic guitar, in order to give it a different touch than a classical guitar.’

JOHNSTON - Growing up in Cuba as a classical guitar prodigy, Elmer Ferrer saw the movie Crossroads and from that moment on he began devoting his life to playing blues on the electric guitar. Armed with the chops to play any style of guitar, Ferrer cuts loose on a 2006 CD of highly charged, atmospheric instrumentals. Citing Steve Vai and Stevie Ray Vaughan as big influences, Ferrer has collaborated with numerous Cuban musicians and has appeared on over 60 CDs back in Cuba. Now on his first CD for the Canadian based Johnston Records he shows why he’s so respected as a guitarist back in Cuba. The Ferrer band’s mostly instrumental fusion sound is enhanced with a few vocal tracks including a funky, jazzy cover of the Beatles classic “Come Together” and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Couldn’t Stand The Weather.” In the spirit of fusion guitar masters like Scofield, Metheny and Ford, Ferrer proves capable of making equally satisfying instrumental guitar albums with the intriguing sounds of Fango Dance.

LO-BALL RECORDS - A modern master of the pedal steel guitar, S.F. based Joe Goldmark has recorded a number of steel albums including an excellent Beatles tribute, Steelin’ The Beatles while his 2004 album Strong Like Bull...But Sensitive Like Squirrel! turned more than a few heads on to the steel. Late in 2006 Goldmark returns with his self-styled tribute to the music of the ‘60s entitled Seducing The ‘60s. A combination of vocals and instrumentals featuring Goldmark’s steel up front, Seducing The ‘60s features more memorable Goldmark covers of CSN&Y, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lovin’ Spoonful, The Who, Cat Stevens and more. The 13 track CD features Goldmark backed by select players while his track by track notes fill in the history on these classy covers.

- NYC based guitarist Paul Hemmings does the darn near impossible with his 13 track instrumental jazz-rock guitar tribute to the Beatles entitled Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Live!) Released on Hemmings’ own Leading Tone imprint, the CD is actually a live album featuring Hemmings on guitar, tres, ukulele, loops and effects backed by a number of players. Recorded in NYC on 3/24/06, the live concert CD is a tip to toe reinterpretation of rock’s most revered album performed live in a near avant gard and jazzy guitar fashion.

MVD / VISION - Rock journeyman Nils Lofgren is known for being there while rock history was being created including playing, at age 17, on Neil Young’s classic After The Gold Rush as well as the first Crazy Horse classic from 1972. After years of backing rock giants like Bruce Springsteen, Lofgren returns with a live concert DVD of his own recorded in February 2006. Backed by family members including Tom Lofgren (guitars, keyboards) and guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Lofgren sets the record straight. Live Acoustic shows Lofgren hasn’t missed a beat and can still amaze with his vocals and acoustic guitar. In addition to live concert footage, the 97 minute DVD also features backstage and rehearsal footage. Live Acoustic follows the release of Lofgren’s 2006 studio album Sacred Weapon—a twelve track CD on his own Vision Music, featuring Lofgren backed up by Crosby & Nash, Willie Nelson and more. /

- In the spirit of eclectic sound explorers before him such as Wendy Carlos, Luciano Berio, Fred Frith and more, Turkish guitarist Erdem Helvacioglu seemingly thrives in avant gard musical corners. On his 2006 CD on New Albion, Altered Realities, Helvacioglu combines solo acoustic guitar and live electronics to great effect. It’s amazing to think that you could get such a staggering experimental tone just with an Ovation custom acoustic and a multi-effects processor. With his imaginative processed guitar approach, Helvacioglu is on to some wildly inventive sounds on Altered Realties.

- A mainstay on the jazz scene for quite some time, Royce Campbell released a number of recent guitar-based albums including Gypsy Soul and his free form jazz based Elegy To A Friend. Another CD by Royce released late in 2006,Trio By Starlight features Royce backed up by bebop jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and bassist Tom Baldwin. All ten songs here are based on progressions of jazz standards but Royce replaces the familiar melodies with his own new ones making for an interesting jazz guitar concept of sorts. Campbell’s history of backing greats like Henry Mancini, Mel Torme and Quincy Jones is evident here in the tasteful way he approaches his jazz guitar playing and composing. Campbell has released 19 albums and Trio By Starlight is an excellent example of his guitar technique and expertise.

- One of the great late ‘60s psych-pop bands, The Electric Prunes have been on a roll these past few years, making new and revitalized sounding rock albums with several member of the original band including singer James Lowe, and guitarists Mark Tulin and Ken Williams. The band’s latest, the 2006 CD release of Feedback continues the upsurge in Prune mania with ten new tracks that eerily revive the electric days of psychedelia and beyond. A batch of drummers and several more guitarists assist the core Electric Prunes lineup on an album that stays remarkably true to the band’s original sound.

- One of America’s great modern pop bands, Outrageous Cherry find a new home and score a hit with the 2006 CD release of Stay Happy. The eleven track CD shows why OC have the smarts to stay one step ahead of the retro pop scene. If anything the CD message is to indeed to “Stay Happy, Through the world is a ball of destruction.” Featuring the songs of guitarist Matthew Smith, there’s a Dylan-esque thread while with two men and two women, the band have also been described as a modern Velvet Underground that might have kept plowing new ground after getting Loaded.

- Guitarist Steve Herberman is making waves in the jazz guitar world with the 2006 release of Action:Reaction. Released on his own Reach Music label, the hour long nine track CD features Herberman in top form assisted by Drew Gress (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums). In his CD liner notes, guitar master Gene Bertoncini states, “Steve’s improvising is uniquely fresh with melodic ideas. There is a constant groove to it all with an abundance of chops and exceptional clarity.” With nine tracks composed and produced by Herberman, Action:Reaction is a stellar tribute to the spirit of jazz guitar.

REPRISE - On an album that might be called Living With Raw, Neil Young takes his 2006 CD Living With War, and recreates it as a double CD/DVD set. Disc one features the original mixes from the Living With War sessions, raw mixes minus the choir added a week after. These first mixes, made by Young and his group in the heat of the moment represent the beginnings of the Living With War album. Much more in the spirit of Young’s powerhouse recordings with Crazy Horse, the album remains one of Young’s most unforgettable performances. Disc two of Living With War / Raw is where the pedal hits the medal. It’s one thing to write political rockers, it’s another to format everything in an amazing musical video documentary spoofing CNN and the like and make it work. Music videos of all nine tracks, as well as documentaries of each track, archive videos, new television with Young, reviews and much more, including high-rez audio make this “All War, All The Time” video epic from Young among the most impressive uses of DVD in rock music yet.

RHINO - In the liner notes, no less than Rolling Stone’s most influential rock scribe from the mag's early years, the esteemed John Mendelssohn is quoted as saying “in a just world, Crenshaw would’ve been bigger than the solo John Lennon.” As gifted as Lennon when it comes to the nuances of pop, Marshall Crenshaw was primed as the soul reincarnate of Buddy Holly (check out his cover of “Crying, Waiting Hoping”). Like so many ‘80s artists including Marti Jones, Jules Shear etc) Marshall lost backing from the major labels after MCA released Life’s Too Short in 1990. It’s gone downhill for too many record labels but Crenshaw still has what it takes. For the unconverted Rhino’s double CD Definitive Crenshaw mines a wealth of tracks including his certified mid ‘80s pop classics. Perhaps the best thing here bolstering a choice lineup covering 1981-2003, is the uniform sound quality which seals the deal with restored sonic uniformity. Cool rediscoveries include the instrumental “West Of Bald Knob” from 1999.
Rhino continues to delve into the fabled WEA vaults and have issued Love: The Definitive Rock Collection. Created by Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean, Love were right in the middle of the late ‘60s L.A. scene but they never quite hit like The Byrds or other contemporaries. Even with the passing of MacLean in the ‘90s and the recent passing of Lee, their ‘66-69 stuff—the best of which is distilled now in 2006 on this double CD with 30 tracks and new liner notes—remains the stuff of legends. Other artists featured in Rhino’s Definitive Rock Collection include The Everly Brothers—2CD, 30 tracks taken from their Cadence and Warner Bros. recordings circa ‘57-67.
For that incredibly lucky generation of the late ‘60s who grew up with The Byrds, Beatles and Buffalo blasting out the AM and FM radio waves, the solo debut from David Crosby was a musical blessing. Coming around the time of classics like Deja Vu and American Beauty, the 1970 release of If I Could Only Remember My Name... featured Dave in rare form, assisted by studio hand Stephen Barncard along with outstanding studio hands such as Jerry Garcia, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Graham Nash and other luminaries from the golden rock era of the ‘60s. Rhino has done a great job with their CD/DVD release, adding in detailed booklet and liners, a bonus cut, while the DVD half features a DVD mix of the entire 9 track album + one bonus cut, lyrics and an extensive fascinating interview with Crosby’s co-producer Barncard who puts the story in perspective. Rhino caps off their David Crosby series with a 3 CD box set entitled Voyage. Opening up with “Eight Miles High” from The Byrds this essential Crosby box goes the distance, compiling 52 Crosby tracks from the past 5 decades including tracks with CSN&Y and CPR. Produced by Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein, Voyage and is complete with a 132 page booklet.
A founding member of Led Zeppelin and a solo artist for the past 25 years, Robert Plant is given a solo career retrospective with the 2006 Rhino release of his Nine Lives. Although Plant’s career with Led Zep concentrated on heavy progressive blues-rock, as a solo artist Plant delved into a wealth of musical styles—from Celtic and English folk to American blues, early rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelic rock as well as Arabic, African and Indian music. Plant’s best yet retrospective, Nine Lives features all nine of his solo CDs—from Pictures At Eleven in 1982 to 2005’s Mighty Rearranger—remastered and expanded with bonus cuts and unreleased tracks. Nine Lives also features a DVD compilation with a career spanning interview and rare footage and in addition, the ten disc box is tastefully packaged and features extensive liner notes and a history of each album.

SOLID AIR - Laurence Juber performs an instrumental solo guitar guitar tribute to the music of legendary songwriter Harold Arlen on his 2006 CD on Solid Air Records I’ve Got The World On Six Strings: LJ Plays Harold Arlen. Juber is renowned for his work with Paul McCartney and Wings and he even has a Beatles tribute on Solid Air called One Wing. Commenting on Arlen’s compositions Juber adds, ‘Some, like “Over The Rainbow” are musical icons; many others are true standards of the golden era of American theatre and movie songs. Juber expertly performs several of Arlen’s Wizard Of Oz gems while others—like “Stormy Weather” and “That Old Black Magic”—are performed by Juber in an equally reverent manner.
Guitar hero Phil Keaggy teams up with long time friend Mike Pachelli for the 2006 CD release of Two Of Us on Solid Air Records. Pachelli describes the acoustic duets as ‘an improvisational stream of consciousness,’ and there’s certainly plenty of jazzy / avant instrumental guitar wizardry to make the CD a safe bet for long time Keaggy watchers. The 13 track CD features track by track liner notes from the two guitarists and highlights include a new remake of “Country Down Revisited”—a track originally featured on Keaggy’s solo album Beyond Nature.

TC - In and around the Chicago area, The Coyotees have been going since the ‘80s although they really strike gold with their 12 track 2005 CD Fire Eyes. Fans of Beatles style pop will marvel at the attention to melody and arrangement that Coyotees front man Mario Novelli brings to the group’s song writing. There’s a solid McCartney English folk-rock hint in Novelli’s song writing and singing and one can’t help but notice an Emitt Rhodes influence in Novelli’s impressive pipes. An ace like McCartney in the studio, Novelli makes the most his talented Coyotees bandmates including guitarist John Moffett. Track for track, the songs on Fire Eyes come alive with a solid pop tone.

- When he’s not rocking out with Radiohead, guitarist Jonny Greenwood can probably be found listening to his vast collection of Jamaican soul, roots and dub music. A collaboration between Trojan Records and the guitarist, Greenwood’s desert island collection of reggae favorites can be heard on the 2007 compilation Jonny Greenwood Is The Controller. Honoring the 40th anniversary of Trojan Records, the 17 track CD features essential tracks from classic reggae stars like Desmond Dekker, Lee Perry, Gregory Isaacs, Sly & Robbie, King Tubby and more. A valuable history lesson on the Jamaican sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the CD is an interesting compliment to Greenwood’s renowned reputation as Radiohead’s guitar hero.

UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC - The Who are back in 2006-07 with a truly amazing album that re-ignites their legacy. This fresh batch of 21 tracks from the guitar and pen of Pete Townshend features Roger Daltrey, whose vocals just seem to pick up from the band’s early ‘80s vibe, in other words a seamless fit of at least fifty percent of the Who legend. Backed by the great drums of Zak Starkey, the keys of John Bundrick, adding in the guitar and vocals of Simon Townshend and the equally gifted Billy Nicholls, there’s very little on Endless Wire that would disappoint any generation of Who fans. The CD includes a fresh batch of Townshend rockers and a ten song mini opera that comprise the principal music composed so far for Townshend’s novella The Boy Who Heard Music. This essential CD release comes with a DVD with five classic Who tracks performed live in France on July 16, 2006—the clincher being a new band version of a new Endless Wire song, “Mike Post Theme” that proves the Who still reign among the strongest and longest of the classic ‘60s rock legends.

- Acclaimed in his native England for his work with his own Chris Francis Band, numerous session work and a pair of solo CDs, the latest of which came out late in 2006, guitarist Chris Francis sounds inspired by Van Halen and Steve Vai. His latest solo instrumental guitar CD blends rock with freewheeling heavy metal guitar shredding to great effect. On Studs N’ Sisters Francis puts real meat on these rockers that are enhanced by his daredevil guitar licks. It’s not all hard rock, there’s some tasty melodic work especially on his refreshing anthemic guitar instro cover of the Madonna classic “Material Girl” while the moog-like guitar groove of “2nd Base” gets it right with a solid Jan Akkerman influence. The colorful liner booklet serves as a program guide for Chris’ cinematic, retro-flavored electric rock and jazz guitar instrumentals.

- Covering a multitude of musical bases, guitarist / composer Andy Rothstein will make guitar fans quite happy with the 2006 release of Voodoo Tone. Rothstein owns and operates his own Rothstein Guitars and he recently made waves with some superb playing on the latest solo album from bassist Tony Senatore, who also appears here. A number of players assist Rothstein including guitarist Vinne Zummo and drummer Lou Petto. In addition to his transcription work for Hal Leonard Publishing, Rothstein has studied guitar with Zummo as well as Steve Khan, Kevin Eubanks and the late Ted Dunbar. In addition to a set-closing instro of “Giant Steps” there’s a couple vocal tracks on the primarily instrumental CD. If you’re a fan of inventive electric guitar playing and have an open mind when it comes to combining rock fusion and progressive jazz, there’s plenty of superb guitar work on Voodoo Tone to make it well worth your while. /

- The follow-up to his Yesterday Today tribute to The Beatles, the 2006 CD release of Hall Of Dreams features guitarist Tim Pitts breaking new ground in the realm of instrumental guitar rock. Released on his own Wave Guide imprint, the 11 track CD features some hot electric guitar work with Pitts performing all guitars, bass and keyboards while backed up by a couple drummers. Commenting on his latest CD Pitts adds, ‘Hall of Dreams is another stage in the development of my music. My shred and jazz influences come together in interesting ways. It's more intense and jazzier than my other cds, but still the emphasis is on beautiful music.’ One track here, “Holds It’s Worth” is a tribute to guitarist Allan Holdsworth that Pitts describes as being ‘extremely complex, despite its simplicity.’ The do-it-yourself vibe on Hall Of Dreams is offset by some fine fretboard work and the high level of energy Pitts brings to his instro rock sound.

- Bassist Mark Egan worked with Pat Metheny back in the ‘70s, appearing on the groundbreaking Pat Metheny Group album that changed the way guitar fans listened to jazz and rock. Egan’s latest is a double CD set of impressionistic jazzy improv entitled As We Speak. To honor the event he’s enlisted heavy hitters, jazz guitar legend John Abercrombie and his long time rhythm section partner from the PMG days, Danny Gottlieb. In the liner notes Egan speaks of his love of trios like Cream and the Hendrix Experience, adding, ‘I wanted to capture both an intimate and progressive side of my playing and composing in a creative trio setting.’ The chemistry between Egan, Gottlieb and Abercrombie is revealed in fine form on As We Speak.

- At age 70 Ike Turner is still kicking ass in the music world. Ike’s 2006 CD, Risin’ With The Blues on Zoho is a celebration of Turner’s contribution to blues, rock and R&B. Whether covering Fats Domino, Eddie Boyd or Louis Jordon or barnstorming with some rousing blues fusion instrumentals like the CD-closer “Bi-Polar”, Turner is white hot on the 14 track Risin’ With The Blues. Turner’s trademark guitar, piano and vocals are still right on target and he sounds particularly nasty and raw here. Best known for his marriage to Tina Turner back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Ike might have been relegated to being the behind the scenes bandleader and guitarist with his famous ex, but on Risin’ With The Blues, he takes center stage and sounds like he’s making up for lost times. In the spirit of his 1958 sessions with Buddy Guy and Otis Rush and a top follow up to his 2002 CD Here And Now, 2006’s Risin’ With The Blues finds Ike alive and well in the studio backed by a number of top players.
If you like the idea of combining fusion jazz and Indian music you’ll dig the 2006 CD from NYC based guitarist Rez Abbasi. Filled with spicy touches like Abbasi’s sitar-guitar sounds, Bazaar is so eclectic you won’t remember what continent you’re on. Having evolved out of the Indo-Pak sub continent, Abbasi has been Stateside since he was 4 and he makes great use of combining his guitar skills with jazz and world beat on the appropriately titled Bazaar. With the help of top players like Gary Versace (organ) and Dan Weiss (drums, tabla) Abbasi delves back into his musical heritage even featuring Indian singer Kiran Ahluwalia, who appears on a couple tracks here. Backed by a number of excellent musicians, Abbasi provides plenty of musical intrigue to amaze even the most seasoned guitar fusion fan.

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



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