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Songs Without Words
(Rubba Ducky)

Accurately described by the artist as a ‘sonic portrait’, Songs Without Words mixes a wealth of guitar-based instrumental genres—rock, blues, jazz, country and even psychedelic—and comes up with a noteworthy mix. Coming from the place where Santana meets Satriani, Normand cuts loose on a guitar fusion CD that flexes and flows in all the right places. The Nashville based Normand has recently worked alongside Nashville notables like Toby Keith and Vern Gosdin and on his 2004 Songs Without Words, Normand’s high energy guitar approach sounds influenced by the multi-layered fretboard finesse of ax greats like Steve Morse and Dicky Betts. Topped off with excellent CD cover art, Songs Without Words is much more than a guitar shred-fest. Joined by a number of veteran Nashville players, Normand serves up some tasty guitar instrumental music and his new CD is a welcome addition to the jazz-rock world.



A Time Of Truth

A few years back guitarist Randy Z released his first Z-Works album entitled Sleeping Angels. Like it’s predecessor, his new CD, A Time Of Truth is filled with lush guitar-based instrumental soundscapes that tastefully combine all manner of meditative music complete with deep spiritual guitar vibes. With Z handling all the electric and acoustic guitars and bass, A Time Of Truth is further filled out by synths, various percussion while the album’s lone vocal, “Walking With The Angels”, adds the vocals of a cat named Guyzer. Z’s one man band approach achieves some ethereal results most notably on the apocalyptic, seven minute title track, the cosmic flamenco sound of “Celebration” and on the bustling New Age groove of “Train To Nowhere”. A fine showcase for Z’s fertile musical imagination, A Time Of Truth offers an expert match-up of multi-layered acoustics and ringing electric guitars. It’s sufficiently revealed after several active and subliminal spins that with even with it’s guitaristic propensities, Z’s melodic and atmospheric sound at times suggests the symphonic scope of orchestral rock masters like Jan Hammer or even Vangelis. Let’s hope Z continues to refine his craft.



(Lone Aero)

Some guitar pundits are already comparing guitarist Bill Lonero to giants like Joe Satriani, and fittingly, like Satch, the CA.-based Lonero is a master of the instrumental guitar rock genre. Not to be outdone, Lonero teams with a number of great players on Slather including Stu Hamm (bass) and drummers Gigi Gonaway and Mike Mangini. Making a statement by keeping the ‘live in the studio’ spirit, Lonero adds, “This album was recorded in the most mimimalistic way possible. In most cases I just used a guitar and a wah. If there are any other effects it’s a whammy pedal.” In the spirit of fusion icons like Steve Morse and Eric Johnson, Lonero realizes the inherent power of dynamic instrumental rock guitar and he plays it to the max on Slather.


The Diamondheads
(Single Coil)

It’s surf’s up 2004 and just in time for the summer fun comes the latest CD from Baltimore’s greatest surf instrumental band, The Diamondheads. Featuring the twin rockin’ guitars of Brian Lavelle and Dave Grauer, the quartet have laid down some fine original instros on their self-titled CD of surf guitar instrumentals. In the words of guitarist Lavelle, “While it seems easiest to label The Diamondheads a Surf band, they are probably most influenced by The Shadows's Hank Marvin and The Venture's Nokie Edwards. They do their best to pay homage to the style by using some great vintage equipment.” Armed with vintage Fender guitars, The Diamondheads have opened live shows for legends like Dick Dale and have rocked out on Phil Dirt’s famous KFJC radio show on the left coast and now they put the pedal to the metal on their fourteen track album. Among their originals, the quartet summon up a blazing cover of the Ventures’ classic, “Diamondhead” and any group that has the spunk to cover the long, lost Beatles classic “Cry For A Shadow” can’t be bad.


Songs For A New Day
(Lisa Baker Music)

A native of California who settled in Nashville back in 1984, Lisa Baker is a first-rate singer-songwriter, engineer and producer who also happens to play a hot electric guitar. She even designed her own guitar—having Nashville ax-master Joe Glaser assemble the Fender body, Warmoth neck, Seymour Duncan pick-ups and Floyd Rose tremolo all retrofitted with colored lights down the neck and inside the knobs. Baker approaches her music with telling results on her self-produced 2004 CD Song For A New Day. A mostly instrumental affair, tweaked with Baker’s accomplished guitar prowess, inviting vocals and scat-vocal backups, Song For A New Day sounds inspired by major guitar influences like Wes Montgomery and Jimi Hendrix while a cover of the Freddie Hubbard classic “Little Sunflower” demonstrates Baker’s grasp of the classic jazz-fusion medium. Song For A New Day features some top players from the Nashville area, including guitar ace / composer Regi Wooten—with other Wooten clan members Joseph Wooten on keyboards and Vic Wooten on bass—along with Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge. Baker adds, “Surround yourself with great people and you’ll elevate yourself to that level.” On Song For A New Day Lisa Baker makes it clear that she’s got the guitar chops, songwriting skills and enthusiasm to rise to the top.


A Day At The Beach


Back in the ‘60s, instrumental guitar aficionados were in paradise. England had The Shadows and America had The Ventures. More than four decades later, few American guitarists are capable of combining the spirit of the classic West Coast surf-rock sound of The Ventures and the Euro-tinged guitar instrumental sound of Hank Marvin & The Shadows better than Colorado-based guitar ace Les Fradkin. Forty plus years after the Ventures and Shadows early ‘60s breakthroughs, Les Fradkin and his band, Get Wet, are in the midst of reviving the time-honored surf-rock instro sound and a whole lot more. Just in time for Summer 2004, Fradkin has re-launched the first two Get Wet albums—Splash! (from 1999) and A Day At The Beach (2001)—on his own RRO Records. Huge hits on when released on CDR a few years back, Fradkin has shored them both up as definitive CD releases complete with 24-bit remastering, eye-catching new artwork and liner notes. Bonus tracks of Les Fradkin & Get Wet performing live in California and Colorado alongside a number of top players are featured on each—with the Splash! reissue spotlighting Les riffing out alongside legendary Eddie & The Showmen guitarist Eddie Bertrand. Colorful new artwork and top remastering makes these classic albums look and sound even better. The big, rocking guitar beat of Les Fradkin & Get Wet is essential listening for fans of surf-rock and symphonic rock instrumental 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