Record Label and Music Spotlight 




on Lonely Llama Music


on No Sweat Records

on Guitar Farm Records


ACOUSTIC AMERICA RECORDS - In order for a meditative acoustic music to be really great, it should be both relaxing and ambient. On his 2005 solo CD, Guitar Peace, Nashville-based guitarist Roger Hudson fills the bill perfectly. On Guitar Peace Hudson geared the music to be used as calming music to help his kids unwind before falling asleep, and Hudson’s own words, “For everyone else, this music can serve a similar purpose in helping to ease the stresses of adulthood.” Well versed in both jazz and popular music, Hudson also makes good use of his classical guitar background and on Guitar Peace he tastefully combines a wide range of instrumental guitar art forms. It’s been too long since Hudson’s 1994 CD, Guitarchitecture, so let’s hope he gets to follow up his great Guitar Peace CD soon.

ALL CREATIONS RECORDS - A legend from his days back in the ‘50s with Duane Eddy and all during the ‘60s doing sessions with everyone from Frank Sinatra to The Beach Boys, guitarist Al Casey returned to the limelight with a laid back instrumental tribute to his ‘60s session work called Al Casey’s Hit List. Working alongside Casey on this 2004 release is Mark Knopfler band member Richard Bennett, who grew up one of Casey’s most loyal fans and students. Commenting on working with a legend such as Casey, Bennett adds, “It's hard to narrow down Al's body of work to the most influential, it's vast, but when Al was putting together the titles to record he was very mindful of picking the big ones and if he had only played on those songs alone he'd be a legend. That's not even covering all the Eddy records and thousands upon thousands of other things. ” Serving up jazzy, low key easy listening instrumental guitar based tracks such as “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, “Sloop John B”, “That’s Life” and “Strangers In The Night”, Casey and Bennett receive fine support from several player as well as producer / engineer Jack Miller. The CD features fine liner notes by Bennett and detailed track by track notes by Casey, whose insights serve as an encyclopedia of ‘60s pop trivia.

ALLEN HINDS - A great tapestry of guitar sounds on which to hang his chops on, Fact Of The Matter is a fine introduction to the music Allen Hinds. An all instrumental mixture of rock, country and the ‘quiet storm’ sound of smooth jazz, the eleven track CD features some fine backing players, who adeptly enhance Hinds’ cutting edge electric guitar sounds. A good example of just how well Hinds straddles musical genres can be heard on “Waltz For Tina”, with its tapered, circular melodic edge that borders on neoclassical rock fusion. Hinds also proves competent on piano keyboards and numerous other instruments but its his guitar work that lifts the set to its best moments.

- Famous for his breezy smooth jazz records, guitarist Grant Geissman is featured on a 2004 DVD that captures a fine in the studio performance with his quintet. The Grant Geismman Quintet There And Back Again is state of the art dual disc featuring the ten track DVD, video blue side up and a DVD audio, red side up. Both are mixed in 5.1 and even in good old stereo, the sound is crystal clear with the DVD video features the filming of the recording session, bio, interview and photo gallery. Over the years, Geissman has worked with everybody from Brian Wilson to Placido Domingo and this excellent DVD dual disc serves as both fine viewing and listening. Surf music fans will want to check out another fine AIX Records DVD release entitled I Get Surround, by The Surf City All-Star Band. This DVD-Audio / Video package features a great in the studio jam featuring the original surfer himself, Dean Torrence, of Jan & Dean, supported by great guitarists including Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Randell Kirsch, Don Raymond and more including Al Jardine’s son Matt Jardine on background vocals and percussion. The 13 track CD features a fine mix of vocal and instrumentals including classics like “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena” and the surf-rock instro classic “Apache.”

- Don’t let the incredibly juvenile looking cover art of the debut CD from Cayucos, California guitarist Travis Wittmeyer fool you. Behind the bizarre imagery of his album Checkered Soda is some incredibly gifted fretboard work. Help from a pair of bassists and the fine drumming of Mike Daillak, helps Travis realize his true strength mixing instrumental rock fusion music with the melodic sensibilities of surf music. As the post-punk inspired cover art indicates, with Travis looking like a man possessed on the back tray card, this stuff hits hard and fast, like a tsunami.

BILO TUNES - A tasty album of colorful guitar jazz inspired by the original Gypsy jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt, Gypsy Tendercies is a fine introduction to the craft of Minnesota guitarist Robert Bell. Playing three of his own Gypsy jazz guitars, with added accompaniment from Matt Senjem (bass), Bell swiftly handles both the driving rhythm and guitar solos, skillfully overdubbing parts. From the liner notes Bell adds, “My interest in Django has also propelled me to sight-read, study theory, embrace my voice on the instrument and generally dedicate myself to the guitar.” A mix of Bell originals and true to life covers of songs made famous by the songwriting team of Django and his partner Stephane Grappelli, Gypsy Tendercies seals the deal with a full-bodied sound that brings Django’s revered Gypsy jazz guitar sound into the now.

BILL BURKE - Effecting an icy cool, nocturnal minimalist guitar sound that owes a bit of it’s vision and intensity to pioneers such as Robert Fripp and Trey Gunn, Maryland-based guitarist Bill Burke stakes a claim of his own with his 2005 CD Comma. A new master of the 8-String Warr guitar, Burke makes use of his talents with some interesting musical moves. The CD sound is further accentuated by the appearance of guest spots from John Emrich (drums) and Bruno Nasta (viola).

BIZARBIZAR - The French have always been masters of musical drama and strangeness. From the symphonic orchestral magic of film music king Michel Legrand to the e-music wizardry of Jean Michel Jarre, the French are constantly coming up with new and amazing sounds. In 2005, perhaps none more so than composer/performer François Elie Roulin. On his 2005 CD, Parade, Roulin plunders the realms of Euro orchestral, film and electronic music and leaves no musical stone unturned. A breathy French female singer singing orch-rock torch songs in English and some great players assist Roulin’s otherwise instrumental musical vision including guitarist Thierry Zerbib and Oliver Emery. Roulin has worked in the past with Brian Eno who earlier praised him as one of the pioneering sound painters of the modern age. Roulin’s recording work and scoring for film and commercials pays off big time on the eclectic orch-pop enchantment in play on Parade.

BLUE NOTE RECORDS - Back in 1969—after recording a series of albums for Blue Note—guitarist Grant Green began recording a series of instrumentals reflecting his love of the funk and groove patters of greats like James Brown, The Meters and Sly Stone. In 2005 Blue Note Records has compiled a number of soul-jazz tracks recorded by Green between 1969-72 for their Original Jam Masters trio of CD remasters. The music on Ain’t It Funky Now!, For The Funk Of It and Mellow Madness reflect Green’s guitar-jazz vision during an era when you could hear a staggering range of R&B and soul music on the same FM radio station. Assisted by some of the greatest session cats of the day, all three Blue Note CDs combine a mix of classic Grant Green covering James Brown, The Isley Brothers, Kool & The Gang, Herbie Hancock, Lennon & McCartney, Lalo Schifrin and Green himself. Smokin’, funky guitar jazz with a tinge of the ‘60s spirit of Wes Montgomery, Green’s Original Jam Masters is history well worth revisiting.

BOLERO - So-Cal Flamenco maven Armik (pronounced R-méek) keeps putting out these fantastically impossibly daredevil guitar albums that each follow an analogous path of guitaristic sounds yet, his playing is so technically amazing, it kind of haunts back to the original spirit of flamenco from Spain in the 1800’s or more like the oud players of his native Persia. This time his on Mar De Sueños (Sea Of Dreams) his instrumental magic draws inspiration from geographic memories of French Polynesia, the Mediterranean island of Ibiza as well as driving up the West coast of California on the track “Santa Barbara.” Armik makes excellent use of his various custom made flamenco guitars from Spain and as is per release, the CD cover art features bright, guitar-flecked imagery.

BOLT -A power trio centered around the hard hitting sound of guitarist Heyward Sims and drummer Bill Elliott—later joined by Geoff Maxey on bass—Bolt cut a four song EP down in their native South Carolina back in 2001, a full length album, Circadian Rhythm, released in March of 2003 and they come back stronger with their most impressive full length CD in 2005. In the spirit of prog-rockers like King Crimson (especially the mid ‘90s KC), Bolt refine their sonic assault on Movement And Detail. They’ve also been compared to the intense instrumental guitar sound of modern groups like Trans Am and Don Caballero while others mention the textured guitar atmospherics of Andy Summers in The Police. There’s also a strong air of originality behind the cutting edge instrumental ambush of Movement And Detail.

BOSSY PANTS - Lead guitarist with Jackson Brown since ‘94, Mark Goldenberg sets a course of his own with a fine foray into acoustic guitar territory. His colleague Brown, and all sort of singers and guitarists alike have saying positive things about the ten track, self titled Mark Goldenberg. Like the evocative cover art, Goldenberg’s instrumental acoustic guitar magic draws you in with an appealing web of sounds, best described as a mix of Michael Hedges and Joe Pass, Egberto Gismonti and Erik Satie. A treat for acoustic guitar lovers and Goldenberg rarely misses a turn on an album that gallantly sails a sea of sound.

CAPITOL RECORDS - As Capitol Records prepares to release Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played—the first album from Les Paul since his 1978 album Chester & Lester—the label has released Les Paul With Mary Ford: The Best Of The Capitol Masters: 90th Birthday Edition. A single disc 2005 reissue with 23 tracks, The Best Of The Capitol Masters: 90th Birthday Edition is actually a reissue of the same sampler the label released in 1991 to help promote Les’ four CD box set called The Legend And The Legacy. Why Capitol chose that route instead of fleshing out a new compilation to help celebrate Paul’s 90th birthday is beyond words. Les’ library of unreleased music is a veritable gold mine and I’m sure the label could have done a better job at representing the myriad of guitar sounds and styles that is Les Paul. That said, the CD does feature great track by track liner notes by Les himself and two bonus tracks not featured on the ‘91 sampler—”Brazil”, an overdubbed guitar extravaganza recorded by Les using six guitars in 1948 and “The Case Of The Missing Les Paulverizer”, from the Les Paul Show. Although most kids today think Les Paul is just a guitar, they should check out this historic 90th Birthday Edition reissue that shines a ray of light on one of the true pioneers of 20th century music.

CATCH A RABBIT RECORDS - During his life, guitarist Chris Michie was part of the S.F. Bay area music scene, going on to lend his talents backing Link Wray, Boz Scaggs and most notably Van Morrison. Michie was also gifted solo artist having released his classic Goyer Golf Suite to positive reviews in 2001. Sadly, Chris Michie died in 2003, and his posthumous release The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill follows suit with a fine soundtrack for the movie of the same name. Michie’s always brilliant playing is reminiscent of some of Mark Knopfler’s filmscore work and his deft use of instrumental motifs expertly cross from atmospheric soundtrack sounds to easy on the ears guitar fusion. Finished just six weeks before his passing, The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill is a fine testament to Michie’s remarkable guitar craft.

CHASE MUSIC GROUP - Inspired by his playing a steady gig at a Brazilian restaurant up in Port Chester, N.Y., guitarist Doug Munro sounds very Jobim-inspired on Big Boss Bossa Nova. On his latest on L.A.-based Chase Music Group, Munro changes direction somewhat here adding, “I know this CD represents a departure from my recent solo recordings but I wanted to share this music with you in the hope that you might dig my slightly twisted take on the bossa nova and samba.” The 53+ minute instrumental set makes the most of Munro’s great musical imagination and is a must for anyone who dug some of the more rhythmic instrumental music from Jobim and Milton Nasciemente. There’s also a cool nuevo flamenco element in play on one of Munro’s finest CDs yet. A top instrumental fusion guitarist making waves in the jazz world is New York guitarist Gil Parris and his 2005 CD on CMG is Live At The Next Door Cafe. Recorded live in concert with his band on May 23rd, 2001 in Stamford, CT, the CD sets Parris apart with some free spirited soloing and driving arrangements. Highlights on the CD are cool fusion covers of the Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the Jeff Beck meets James Brown sound of the 7+ minute CD closing “Sex Machine”. Parris has backed some huge names on earlier session work and his hard work is also in evidence on his 2003 studio album Jam This. /

CHEFT RECORDS - Tan Sleeve are Forest Hills, NYC-based singing songwriting multi-instrumentalist duo of Lane Steinberg and Steve Barry. At their core, a hard rocking duo who sound equally inspired by the likes of pop icon Harry Nilsson, “Satisfaction”-era Stones mixed in with an alternative dose of pre-Arthur era Burt Bacharach and the orch-pop flair of Pet Sounds. Described by the duo as “a jukebox inside a fortune cookie,” their 2005 CD American Blood is right among the best of their recent pop releases.

CIRCULAR RECORDS - Fusing a wide range of musical styles—from Celtic to modern classical and jazz—The Scottish Guitar Quartet reach a new pinnacle of guitar expertise on their third CD, Landmarks. It seems like every major city has a guitar trio or quartet to represent them and hailing from Scotland, SGQ features four gifted acoustic guitarists and composers—Ged Brockie, Nigel Clark, Malcolm MacFarlane and Kevin MacKenzie. Combining original material, improvisational interludes and evocative soundscapes inspired by the Scottish highlands, the hour long Landmarks expertly blends well crafted and picturesque acoustic jazz and classical music. In addition to the three albums with the SGQ, Ged Brockie also released an excellent solo album in 2005. Recorded in 2001, The Last View From Mary’s Place features Brockie performing acoustic and electric guitars in the company of several fine players. In the spirit of his work with SGQ, Brockie’s solo set is filled with skillfully performed, easy on the ears instrumental sounds.

COLLECTABLES - Before JFK had his brains blown out in Dallas, America was an innocent place, bright at the dawn of the ‘60s. Nowhere was that American can-do culture spirit better exemplified than by that classic early ‘60s pop culture phenomenon called Bye Bye Birdie. Filled with a slew of memorable pop tunes, the original movie and soundtrack made a huge impact at the time. As a historical footnote, the movie music was also covered on 1963 album on Colpix called Bye Bye Birdie, featuring three major teenage heart-throbs of the early ‘60s—James Darren, Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen. In 2005, Collectables have reissued a 24 track album of the trio’s ‘63 album Bye Bye Birdie, paired with their other ‘63 album Teenage Triangle—which includes Darren’s huge hit “Goodbye Cruel World” and Fabares’ signature tune “Johnny Angel.” I’m almost embarrassed to say I’m old enough to remember this stuff, but looking back I can still say, these songs made a major impact on American culture back in those young and innocent days.

CRESCENT RECORDS - A fine collection of Beatles music recorded in 2003, Fab 4 On 6 features Oregon-based guitarist Don Latarski performing fourteen Beatles classics for acoustic guitar. From the liner notes, Latarski adds, “Much has been written about the music of The Beatles. My background runs to blues and jazz and these are the styles that color my interpretations.” Excellent sounding, the CD features Latarski performing on a Goodall Aloha model, modified to allow for heavy strings, and tuned to what’s commonly called the baritone range. Guitarists and music lovers alike will tune into Latarski’s mellow and relaxing Beatles tribute for acoustic guitar.

DGM / INNER KNOT - According to the press release, “in late 2003, the original studio master tapes of the album were discovered in a tape archive. The combination of the first generation master tapes, improved technology for analog tape playback/transfer and high bit rate digital encoding of the music provides an edition that is as close as it is possible to get, on a standard compact disc, to the sound the musicians heard in the studio and approved at the time of the album’s completion.” The albums we’re talking about are the first two albums from King CrimsonIn The Court Of The Crimson King and In The Wake Of Poseidon. Released during that fabled ‘69/70 period, these albums need very little in the way of explanation, except to say that in the post-Beatles world of progressive rock, these were the two main albums that ushered in a whole new dimension in 20th Century music. The combination of guitarist Robert Fripp and singer / bassist Greg Lake made a most formidable team, and while it sadly only lasted for these first two King Crimson albums, it speaks volumes when it comes to decoding both Fripp and Lake’s future musical achievements. Both albums have, no doubt been bought and re-bought by long time fans and with good reason. The music on these albums hasn’t aged a bit. These definitive edition 2005 CD remasters on DGM proves that if anything, both sound better now than they did 35 years ago, and how many albums can you say that about!

ECM RECORDS - For his second instrumental album on ECM, Louisiana born violinist Michael Galasso has chosen a remarkable musical cast of characters to assist him. High on the list is Norwegian fusion guitar icon and long time ECM artist Terje Rypdal. Although he grew up on a diet of blues, Cajun, zydeco and even Bach, on the 2005 release of High Lines, Galasso sounds equally inspired by the minimalist magic of John Cage and dramatist Robert Wilson as well as Middle Eastern intrigue. Commenting on his working with guitarist Rypdal, Galasso adds, “To me, these pieces start to go into a direction that’s completely new, with this combination of my various violin approaches and Terje’s individuality.” Galasso’s love of bizarre sonic extremes pays off well on High Lines and Rypdal’s uniquely thrilling approach to electric guitar maneuvers keeps proceedings close to the edge.

- Over in London, EMI keep their reissue roster at full volume with a 2005 double CD reissue from Gerry & The Pacemakers entitled The Very Best Of. In 1962 Gerry and the Pacemakers were signed by manager Brian Epstein as his second group after The Beatles. They were the second Liverpool group to chart but the first to reach No.1 and the first act ever to top the UK chart with their initial 3 singles. This collection features number 1’s, top 40 hits as well as B sides and rarities. Gerry and the Pacemakers will never be forgotten and 'You'll Never Walk Alone', has remained the anthem of the crowds at Liverpool Football Club. Also out in 2005 on EMI is Herman's Hermits - The Very Best Of. A comprehensive 2CD collection, the cool A’s & B’s theme here feature all Herman's Hermits UK hits and B sides along with album / EP and rare tracks. A massively popular 60's beat combo, the Hermits were commercially only a couple of rungs below the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Huge in both the U.S. and the U.K., Bobby Vee is feted by EMI with Take Good Care Of My Baby/Recording Session. Both albums are packed with great Bobby Vee hits and Rock & Roll standards. Vee’s huge hits include “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Sharing You” and “Run To Him” as well as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Raining In My Heart” and “Please Don't Ask About Barbara.” Also on EMI by PJ Proby is I Am P J Proby / P J Proby. Both albums featured here show P J Proby to be a highly talented singer, varying styles from Rock and Roll to classic ballads. Showcasing another great EMI act during the ‘60s, the 2005 reissue of The Hollies - Hollies / Would You Believe features the Hollies' 2nd and 3rd albums released in 1965 and 1966 respectively. Hollies features original songs and covers of “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “You Must Believe In Me” and “Down The Line.” Would You Believe features one of their great singles, “I Can't Let Go,” with “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “I Am A Rock” and “Take Your Time.”

- Reassembled to restore the original set list of the 1978 concert, the 2005 double CD set Stage by David Bowie, is given a dusting off by EMI Records. Originally recorded by Bowie producer Tony Visconti as he would a studio album by close miking the band for maximum separation between the instruments with full natural reverb, the end result translates brilliantly on EMI’s 2005 Stage CD remaster. In addition to the set’s revised sequencing, Stage also adds in two unreleased Bowie tracks, “Stay” and “Be My Wife.” Visconti has proven over the years to be Bowie’s finest producer and in-sync co-writer and for Stage he has also prepared a new DVD-A version featuring 5.1 with the new sequence, DTS 5.1 with the new sequence, PCM new stereo with the new sequence and PCM old stereo mix with original RCA Records vinyl sequence and photo gallery. EMI / Virgin can also take a bow for their simultaneous 2005 reissue of Bowie’s 1974 double live album David Live: David Bowie At The Tower Philadelphia, which likewise goes the distance with a stereo and DVD-A version, with unreleased tracks, great artwork and liner notes from Tony Visconti.

EAGLE VISION - Ian Anderson has a million stories to tell about the life and times of the group known as Jethro Tull, and the 2005 CD/DVD release of Nothing Is Easy: Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 is the perfect opportunity for him reflects on his band’s historic performance at the Isle Of Wight music festival in 1970. A few months prior to the August 30th, 1970 show, the lineup of Anderson, Martin Barre (guitar), Clive Bunker (drums) and Glenn Cornick (bass) had released their ground-breaking Aqualung Lp and fittingly, their 2005 Eagle DVD captures live video performances of “My God”, “Nothing Is Easy”, and a couple tracks from the band’s ‘68 debut This Was. Set against the tumultuous background and crazy goings on at the 1970 festival, Tull’s performance is brilliant and was expertly filmed to say the least. In addition to Tull’s video performance, the DVD features a most amazing, extensive interview with Ian Anderson, who eloquently recalls with startling acumen, the entire three day festival and Tull’s amazing part in it. In addition to the DVD performance, Eagle has also released a companion CD set of the performance, which features additional live tracks from Benefit, not featured live on the DVD, yet which like the DVD, also benefits from written liner notes by Anderson.

- Citing huge influences like Booker T. & The MG’s, The Meters and Jimmy Smith, Iowa based quartet The Diplomats Of Solid Sound get it right on their 2005 CD for Estrus, entitled Destination...Get Down. The twelve track CD features solid mix of R&B and ‘60s influences and the combination of the organ work of Nate “Count” Basinger (on Hammond B-3) and the Cropper-esque guitar work of Doug Roberson really is reminiscent of those greast, instrumental Stax recordings from the heyday of the ‘60s. The group really lives up to their self-proclaimed title Ambassadors Of Instrumental Soul.

- Based out in Scotland, guitarist William Barbero is only 26 yet he’s already gaining acclaim for his 17 track, 2005 instrumental guitar CD Espedair Street. Amazingly, Barbero plays everything on the CD, which was recorded in Italy and Scotland. Well versed in both guitar performance and harmony, Barbero cites all kinds of players as influences including shredders like Van Halen and Satriani as well as sophisticated blues and rock players like Clapton, Gilmour and Eric Johnson. Barbero also pays tribute to hot jazz guitar icon Django Reinhardt on a cover of “Djangology.” The CD is well recorded and establishes Barbero as a player of fine taste and expertise.

-Much like the impressive cover art of his CD, Ohio-based guitarist Greg Jones musters enough fire power for a solid lift off on his 2005 CD String Theory. Assisted by drummer Kevin McDonald, Jones proves masterful on guitars, bass and synth sequencing. While the all instrumental eleven track CD borders on hard rock and shred metal, there’s plenty of fine progressive rock edges to make it of interest across the board. Citing influences as diverse as Dream Theater/Liquid Tension Experiment, Spock's Beard, Dixie Dregs, Kansas and Yes, the inventive Jones is currently hard at work adding the final touches to his first ever vocal album.

There’s so many great guitarists and other players on Guitar Farm that it’s hard to know where to begin! Subititled A Tribute To Northern California Guitar Players, the twelve track CD features the music of guitarist and album producer Steve Woolverton. Joined by ace fretboard masters including Stef Burns, Jim Ziegler, Tommy Castro, Dave Jenkins (from Pablo Cruise), the great Steve Morse, Pat Thrall, Peppino d’Agostino, Mike Varney and many more, Guitar Farm is an all instrumental excursion into the heart of rock fusion and the music performed here is up to snuff. Woolverton also excels on guitar here and concerning this adventurous guitar project he adds, “I wanted the opportunity to put together the amazing talent that has come from the Northern California triangle, from Sacramento to San Jose to Santa Rosa. There must be magic in the water to continually produce such talented musicians in one area.” Track by track listings give the complete run-down on all the players taking part on Guitar Farm, with Woolverton adding, “I hope to have the opportunity to take Guitar Farm live, showcasing the best of these musicians. I am working on Guitar Farm 2 and have more incredible musicians lined up.” email:

- On his third solo album, Midwest Dreams guitarist Jerry Krahn crafts some contemporary jazz guitar sounds while remaining loyal to his arch top guitar and swing roots. Superb easy listening jazz guitar instrumentals, the 14 track Midwest Dreams combines several Krahn originals with a mix of classics including the Jerry Fuller tearjerker “Over You” and a solo guitar cover of the Django Reinhardt favorite “Nuages” (Clouds). Backed by key players, Krahn keeps the tradition of tastefully played guitar jazz alive on Midwest Dreams.

- On their 2005 CD for Higher Octave, American / English, smooth jazzers Acoustic Alchemy combine their staple jazzy sound with the varied sounds of reggae, disco and the grooves of Motown soul. Featuring eleven tracks, American / English features the trademark AA twin guitars sound of Miles Gilderdale (steel string / electric guitar) and the band’s co-founder Greg Carmichael (nylon string guitar). Commenting on their latest CD, Gilderdale adds, “Our signature is two guitars, but from there we have jazz tracks, reggae tracks, salsa tracks, and all forms of rock and pop. We tend to be a musical travelogue.” A good description of the band’s transatlantic membership, American / English is quality confirmation of a band now entering their twentieth year of music making.

- Working alongside fellow geniuses like Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind back in the late ‘60s, e-music pioneer Robert Moog can just about take credit of single handedly inventing the moog synthesizer. A self-titled original film soundtrack for the film Moog, the 2005 double CD set on Hollywood Records pairs one CD of all new Moog-flecked new music from the like of Stereolab, Meat Beat Manifesto, Bernie Worrell & Bootsy Collins along with track from Jean-Jacques Perrey & Luke Vibert and one from The Moog Cookbook. The second half of the double CD set head back in time to the ‘70s and ‘80s for eight classic rock tracks highlighted by some mean moog work from top flight innovators Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Devo, Gary Numan, They Might Be Giants and more. The subject matter of the double CD set and the September 2005 Moog movie, Bob Moog extols the virtues of the project adding, “This CD covers and amazing range of music. To me, this CD is a tribute to all the musicians who have used Moog instruments to express their musical visions.”

- A master from the ‘90s acid jazz movement, and a guitarist whose current music as Asphalt Jungle is the sonic equivalent of a New York City subway ride, Brian Tarquin strikes again with the 2005 CD release of Enjoy This Trip. The follow up to their critically acclaimed 2002 album Electro Avenue, Tarquin and his partner Chris Ingram, team for another masterpiece of funk and groove electronica bustling with the big beat sound of drum and bass. One part Run DMC—occasional rap-inspired breakbeats and all—and another the Art Of Noise—Gregorian chants and all—Tarquin succinctly taps into a new music form that could truly be defined as the noise of art. Entertaining listening for those who might appreciate Jeff Beck’s sort of metallic, intense synchronicity, Tarquin’s music comes across as a soundtrack catalog of sounds, veering from realm to realm with a startling rush.

The guitarist in Genesis who played on album classics such as Foxtrot and Selling England By The Pound, Steve Hackett is also a top classical guitarist and he takes it to the next level on his 2005 CD Metamorpheus. Featuring Steve’s nylon string guitar backed by the symphonic classical strains of The Underworld Orchestra, Metamorpheus is actually Hackett’s fifth classical project and is the natural successor to his 1997 CD, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A truly multi-faceted musician, Hackett’s 2004 album on Inside Out Music, To Watch The Storms, was a rocked out prog-rock affair. And while the neoclassical arrangements from Hackett and Roger King make Metamorpheus a completely different type of album, it’s a tasteful, elegant set that rightly underscores Hackett’s unique and challenging approach as one of the guitar world’s most diverse and gifted artists.

- Called a ‘multi-media threat’, Webb Wilder says of his band, ‘we play both kinds of music, Rock and Roll.” Produced by longtime Wilder cohort, R.S. Field, About Time captures Wilder in full flight backed up by his current touring band, The Nashvegans: George Bradfute (guitars), Tom Comet (bass) and Los Straitjackets drummer Jimmy Lester. As the CD proves, Wilder is a master at mixing sounds, songs and threads of British pop, rockabilly, country, blues and the freedom and emotion of soul music. Commenting on the eclectic pop-rock styles on About Time, Wilder adds, “We don’t just give people music. We give them some humor and entertainment. I’ve always like that pre-rock time when everybody had to be a song and dance man. They all had to tell jokes and sing and do something else too. Wilder more than lives up to his credo: “Work hard, rock hard, sleep hard, eat hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need ‘em.”

- The Porcupine Tree group of guitarist Steve Wilson, Richard Barbieri (keyboards), Colin Edwin (bass) and Gavin Harrison (drums) have has been making great CDs for well on for the past ten years and with their 2005 CD Deadwing they hit new heights. Tastefully mixing nascent Pink Floyd and King Crimson as influences, Wilson is nonpareil and fittingly current KC guitarist Adrian Belew lends his guitar talents on three Deadwing tracks. Cutting edge sounds in the spirit of contemporary groups like Mars Volta, Sigur Ros and Radiohead, Wilson & Co. retain their progressive stature on an album that spans a vast musical terrain.

LONELY LLAMA MUSIC- Indy pop pro Ken Dixon returned for his latest CD in 2005. The thirteen track Phanta Morgana is infused the great pop spirit of the early ‘70s and the entire CD spotlights top musicianship of Dixon and his musical cohort, guitarist Craig Bartock, who worked so well with Heart on their 2004 CD. Though not obvious in his uplifting music, Dixon also offers track by track Biblical references in the CD booklet, which also include credits and lyrics. As far as pop goes, there's a goldmine of catchy, memorable melodies and arrangements here including the title track and the sequel, "Phanta Morgana Revisited" as well as the pop classic "Fish Out Of Water" and the socially satirical "We're All Doomed." The guitar work and the studio sound of Phanta Morgana is a testament to the musical expertise of both Dixon and Bartock.

- Guitarist Dave Halverson released a 2005 CD with his group Trance Lucid and its clearly his best group effort yet. Dark and intense, the six track, 20+ minute The Colours Of Darkness is outstanding guitar based fusion for the new millennium. Halverson shines on electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and guitar synth while receiving top flight support from both Terry Lee (drums) and Bill Noertker (bass). Halverson released a fine solo album of minimalist avant gard electric guitar soundscapes, yet on this third Trance Lucid album he gets back to what he does best, which is playing intelligent instrumental jazz with a rock fusion edge. Fusion fans and New Age rockers should check out The Colours Of Darkness.

- You can tell from the second track here, a fuzzed out Davie Allan style cover of “Experiment In Terror” that these guys have one foot in the ‘60s and other right now. Funny enough, the quartet, featuring guitarists D. Ernie Conner and Dave Benton, hail from Madison Wisconsin. File under Surf Noir from America’s heartland, complete with disturbing cover art.

- Growing up in Ibiza and Spain, Max Goldston has enjoyed a colorful life and in 2005 the U.S.-based guitarist puts his talents to good use on his latest CD project called Western Age. Citing influences like Michael Hedges, J.J. Cale and Acoustic Alchemy, Goldston masterfully sets the sound stage with nine evocative acoustic guitar instrumentals that crisscross jazzy folk sounds with a New Age vibe. Overall, Western Age reveals a unique depth of appealing musical ideas that translates quite well to the acoustic guitar medium.

-You can find out what British guitar gods like Peter Green and George Harrison were listening to back in the ‘50 on a 2005 CD from blue icon Elmore James. Fleetwood Mac really came alive digging Elmore’s musical spirit on early albums like English Rose and who can forget George Harrison’s Elmore comment on “For You Blue.” Skiffle flavored blues at it’s finest, James was the master of the 12 bar swing blues and Metro Blue taps into his mid ‘50s sides cut for Chicago based Modern Records with Elmore James: The Best Of The Modern Years. In addition to his classic blues originals, James was a hot guitar player, inventing a whole new language with his blues licks and his hot group features an early appearance from Ike Turner, on both guitar and piano. Great liner notes and discography info. Other 2005 Metro Blue Best Of The Modern Years remasters include compilations from Johnny “Guitar” Watson and T-Bone Walker: The Best Of The Black & White and Imperial Years.

- An intriguing CD that mixes electric processed guitar with flute, clarinet, percussion, bass and cello, Spooky Actions: Early Music is a 2004 album from Bruce Arnold and wind player John Gunther. Neoclassical and Gregorian-flavored instrumental chamber music featuring electric guitar and wind instruments proves a novel idea and with a twist, Arnold’s processed guitar creates the perfect atmospheric backdrop for Gunther to soar while the pair receive expert help from Kirk Driscoll (drums) and Mike Richmond (bass, cello). Touching on music dating back to the 2nd century BC, the music is amazing and puts an entirely new twist on the improvisational aspects of early and modern classical music. Another cool CD on Muse Eek, Two Guys From South Dakota teams Arnold’s guitar with guitarist Mike Miller. A jazzy date—completely different from Arnold’s Spooky Actions set—Two Guys From South Dakota is a 2005 CD on Muse-Eek featuring two guitarists serving up light-hearted jams on jazz classics like “Giant Steps” and “All The Things You Are.” Either way, Arnold proves an amazing guitarist and these two CDs—while completely different—offers a good indication of his uncanny diversity.

- It’s just amazing to watch a young Steve Winwood playing guitar, keyboards and singing with the first version of The Spencer Davis Group. Eight tracks caught live in ‘66 on a Finnish TV show makes their 2005 DVD release on MVD Gimme Some Lovin’ Live 1966 an archival treat. Several of the group’s early hits including “I’m A Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’ (written by Winwood) and bunch of soul-searching blues rockers. Clearly the focal point of the early SDG sound, Winwood’s voice, organ and guitar playing is in top form and it was tough, but Spencer and the guys manage to keep pace with and harness Winwood’s incredibly gifted musicianship. Perhaps the best example of Winwood’s work with Spencer Davis, the DVD also features some funny, room full of smoke interviews with the band with Winwood as well as a documentary of the band the the album they made just after Winwood left for Traffic, fittingly called “With Their New Face On.” Essential viewing for ‘60s rock fans.

- Endorsed by the Surf Party of America, The Plungers rock out on their 2005 CD Surf Americana. Featuring no less than three guitarists, the group combines dual lead guitars, rhythm guitar, bass, Fender bass VI, baritone guitar and drums. Jazzed by the vintage surf/instro sounds of The Ventures and Link Wray and the sounds of modern groups such as the euro-centrics of Laika & The Cosmonauts and the Americana pluck of Okie guitar great Terry “Buffalo” Ware, the Plungers’ 2005 Surf Americana album might be their best yet. As always, ‘acoustic guitars and keyboards are strictly forbidden.’

Buffalo native Ron LoCurto grew up on a diet of jazz, classical and rock music and he combines them to great effect on his 2005 CD Pattern Seeking Primates. From complex Zappa-inspired fusion to a more urbane inner city vibe that cuts hard and fast, LoCurto displays some mighty impressive guitar procedures. In addition to his fondness for world beat sounds, LoCurto also turns to his rock side on the jazzy, fuzzed out Hendrix styled wah-wah groove of the lead off track “Super Bad.” Further comparisons to masters like John McLaughlin and even Satriani are quite valid as LoCurto rips through his fretboard with compelling precision. Also featuring Jack Kulp (bass) and John Bacon, Jr. (drums), Pattern Seeking Primates is well recorded and boasts excellent cover art, even for a CD.

NOW HEAR THIS RECORDINGS - Rockin’ out down under, Aussie guitarist Kim Humphreys is one of the finest exponents of ‘60s style guitar instrumental music alive today. On Big Twang Theory Humphreys demonstrates a fondness for the sound of The Shadows and The Ventures. There’s even a flamenco-surf cover of the Armik classic “Mercedes”. Filled mostly with Humphreys originals, the CD kicks off with a hillbilly-metal cover of the Kinks’ classic “You Really Got Me” and, in addition to the Armik cover, he also covers Davie Allan (“Gunslinger”) and puts a new spin on the instro classic “Nutrocker”. Kim receives great support from several players including Chris Perry (bass) and producer John Roy and the CD sound and artwork are both excellent. If you take your guitar instrumental and surf-rock a little on the heavy side, you’ll get a bang from Humphreys’ big twangy guitar. email:

- Influenced by both the folk guitar sounds of Bob Dylan and James Taylor as well as instrumentalists like Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke, Maine-based guitarist Jim Gallant combines both folk and jazz guitar sounds on his third solo CD River Watch. A gifted acoustic guitarist, Gallant’s fretboard work is both rhythmic and tuneful, and while clearly falling into the Americana instrumental music genre, there’s plenty of well played original acoustic playing to keep both folk and jazz guitar buffs on the edge of their seats.

- A cool little CD filled with all kinds of instrumental guitar wizardry, Inside The Unsaid is a good introduction to Boston-based guitarist Patrick DeCoste. From funky fusion and blues to a tastefully executed prog-rock sound, the nine track CD features Decoste on electric and acoustic guitars backed up by keyboards, rhythm section and horn section. Compared to Eric Johnson, Vai and Satch and praised by top players like Gary Hoey, Decoste’s wide ranging approach to melody and rhythm offers something for all fans of instrumental guitar music.

- Based in the Netherlands, guitarist Eltjo Haselhoff is somewhat of a renaissance man. A Ph.D in physics, a black belt in karate, a cartoonist and a guitar builder and inlay artist, Haselhoff is also an excellent guitarist who talent is featured on his 2005 CD, simply entitled Fingerstyle Guitar Solos. Implementing his Taylor and Ovation acoustic guitars, Haselhoff displays a uniquely Dutch touch in his instrumental guitar art yet there’s also a nod and a wink to other great acoustic players including Leo Kottke and Tommy Emmanuel, who is the subject of a dedication in Eltjo’s song “Tap Your Foot!” After a few spins, it’s clear that Haselhoff’s fine fretboard skills are well complimented by his noteworthy compositions.

- New Mexico-based Petroglyph Records tests the waters with a batch of 2005 releases including a couple of divergent instrumental guitar based CDs. Crisol from Chilean guitarist Antonio Restucci expertly merges musical elements from Spain, South America, India and The Middle East. Recorded in Barcelona and Santiago—and mixed in New Mexico—Restucci’s acoustic music mixes the spirit of New Age music with a hint of Latin and Flamenco, while his jazzy Pat Metheny influence balances out the groove. Another 2005 CD on Petroglyph, Ultrablues, from guitarist Emilio Garcia is quite a different album from the Restucci CD. Backed up by a tight group, Garcia sounds greatly influenced by fusion kings like Satriani and Morse, adding an interesting twist. With their wealth of sounds from a diverse roster of artists, Petroglyph is proving to be a great source of musical sounds from the artistically liberated country of Chile.

- Not having Mike Pinder on the front cover of the Moody Blues Gold CD is akin to leaving off John Lennon off the cover of Anthology. It was Pinder who founded the band, naming the band he and Ray Thomas founded after the Duke Ellington piece and his love of the blues during post-war England. With his songwriting and keyboard work, Pinder built a dynasty that till today has been reaping the fruits of Mike’s original vision back in 1964. Anyway the new Moody Blues Gold double CD set is broken into the two halves of music—with and without Pinder—and the selections are pretty obvious. Including only two Pinder tracks, emotionally complex ones and two of his least ‘cosmic’, and of course, nothing from the pre-Hayward years, Gold is the best bet yet for neophytes and those who want to forget Mike even existed.

- An L.A. transplant by way of Israel, guitarist Rafi Levy released a very cool guitar CD late in 2005. Titled Desert Cruising - In A Dub State Of Mind, the eleven track CD features a range of improv-style guitar instrumentals that veer into all kind of genres including Latin and Middle Eastern sounding music. With titles like “Sand Surfing”, “Zion” and “Asian Princess In Dubland”, there’s an exotic style underway and Levy receive support from some fine players. Funk, Drum & Bass and Reggae fusion are just some of the genre’s Levy expertly taps into on his guitar safari.

- Twenty, count ‘em, 20 tracks of reverb soaked instrumental madness drives the big beat on the third CD from So-Cal surf-rockers The Breakaways. A 2005 CD release, Time Surfin’ hits hard and fast and with clockwork precision, the quintet—featuring the guitar work of Craig Skelly and Ed Riojas—kick starts a new surf-rock revival for the new millennium. Nothing too heavy or hard to swallow here, just solid playing on vintage Fender gear and a bonafide love of the rolling surf. Those listeners who dig the mid ‘60s sound of The Sandals and The Ventures will enjoy the pure surf-rock sounds on Time Surfin’.

- One of the most rewarding New Age CD releases of the 2004/2005 season is Seasons Of Tranquility from keyboardist Buffalo N.Y. native Ken Kaufman. Label head Kathleen Swann is in the forefront of musical therapy and relaxation techniques and as far as soothing, relaxing music to unwind with, it doesn’t get any better than Seasons Of Tranquility. An accomplished keyboardist, Kaufman has produced pop songs and has scored music for film and TV and he now adds to his resume with the sublime sounding meditative glory of Seasons Of Tranquility.

- Smooth jazz with enough criss-crossings of New Age and jazz rock to classify it as genre busting, Mindwalk make music for the body and the mind. The group’s strong point is Richy Stano’s abilities on guitar as well as his fine songwriting and arranging. There’s kind of a ‘60s sound deep in the groove of their recent CD, called Tu and Stano underscores that with a his own Wes inspired rockin’ version of “Eleanor Rigby”, rearranged here as a fusion date titled “I Got ‘cho Elly Rigby Right About Chi.” As many versions of the song as I’ve heard, Mindwalk’s version is one of best instrumentals of it ever. Mindwalk seals the deal with a truly innovative cover of yet another Beatles epic “I Want You” which he calls, “She’s So Unbelievably Heavy She Has Her Own Area Code.” Adept on his Klein Custom electric guitar and acoustic guitar, Stano receives fine backup from Mindwalk cohorts Ali Che’ree (bass), Richard Hilton (keyboard efx), Pete Chmielewski (drums) and others. Tu is a full blown Smooth Jazz-Rock set worth a listen.

- He started playing Hawaiian lap steel guitar when he was three years old and gave his first major concert at four. At age forty, India’s Debashish Bhattacharya further established himself as one of the top slide guitarists with his 2005 CD, 3: Calcutta Slide Guitar. Named after a trinity of guitars Debashish designed himself, 3: Calcutta Slide Guitar is an intriguing 75 minute instrumental album of Indian-flavored guitar sounds. So far, Debashish has designed over nineteen slide guitars with his reputation furthered by numerous live shows and best-selling albums including a collaboration with fellow slide ace Bob Brozman entitled Mahima. Describing his music he adds, “I don’t call my music classical. There was a time when raga was a private affair; only the rich had access. This is the Internet age. Music reaches everyone and I want everyone to experience raga. I also want to experience them!” Putting a new face on a venerable, spiritual musical genre, Debashish brings the thousand year old tradition of Indian music well into the future with the superbly crafted 3: Calcutta Slide Guitar.

- Like a blast from the past: ‘68-74, when Badfinger, Emmett Rhodes and Stackridge were releasing classic pop music, The Squires Of The Subterrain keep the pop tang on ten with their 2004 CD Strawberries On Sunday. Featuring pop tunesmith Christopher Earl and co-producer Pete Miller, the dozen track CD sounds pretty darn good, along the lines of early solo McCartney and the above mentioned Mr. Rhodes. The Squires clearly know their way around a pop hook and prove it with Strawberries On Sunday.

- San Diego based guitarist Tim Coffman continues cranking out rockin’ instrumental guitar CDs and his latest is the 2005 release Music From Beach Boulevard. While his ten track masterpiece clearly falls into the instro guitar realm, Coffman skillfully blurs the borders of surf-rock and beach blues while he also keeps things moving with the Polynesian flavors of the ukelele and Hawaiian steel. For his latest album Coffman is ably assisted by some great players including steel guitarist Gary Brandin (from The Vanduras) and Oahu local Gordon Freitas (on Hawaiian guitar). Anyone who enjoys So-Cal guitar groups The Ventures and The Sandals will find much to enjoy here too.

- Forget the fact that his father, Jerry Lewis, is probably the greatest comedian of the 20th century. That said, singer/drummer/guitarist Gary Lewis recorded enough top ten hits in the ‘60s to make him a bonafide pop culture icon in his own right. His recent video on Kultur—entitled Gary Lewis & The Playboys: Pop Legends Live!—features numerous pop classic Lewis and his group made famous. While these aren’t the original videos from the ‘60s, the recently recorded, expertly filmed in concert eleven track DVD features recorded interviews with Lewis, who explains the genesis of many of the songs here. A fine singer, Lewis has also matured into a fine guitarist and his band features a cross-section of fine rock and pop players who clearly enjoy playing along with Lewis on AM radio favorites like “Everybody Loves A Clown”, “This Diamond Ring”, “She’s Just My Style” and more. Kultur keeps the spirit of the ‘60s alive with an equally intriguing Pop Legends Live! in concert DVDs from ‘60s pop icons The Association.

- Released in 2005 as both a double DVD set and a double CD set on Sanctuary Records, Born To Boogie sets the story straight behind the glam-rock phenomenon known as T. Rex. Originally directed by Beatles great Ringo Starr, this first ever Born To Boogie DVD offers a rare look at T. Rex in concert, spotlighting two performances from London on March 18, 1972. Live in concert, T. Rex leader and guitarist Marc Bolan was a sight to behold, Les Paul guitar in hand, strutting across the stage, rockin out on classics like “Bang A Gong (Get It On)”, “Telegram Sam” and much more. In addition to the ‘72 London shows, the best bits here include live in the studio video clips of Bolan with Ringo on drums and Elton John on piano and a fine documentary conducted by Bolan’s son Rolan Bolan. The younger Bolan eagerly pursues his dad’s legacy with intriguing in the studio interviews with various T. Rex cohorts including long time producer Tony Visconti, who extensive memory of working with T. Rex is still sharp as a tack. Clocking in at five and a half hours, the DVD of Born To Boogie offers a fascinating look back to the hazy daze of ‘70s glam-rock.

- Leslie West could sing the Yellow Pages and it would sound like the blues, but don’t tell him that! Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, West helped redefine the blues as rock and with cohort in Mountain, Felix Pappalardi. On his 2005 CD for Shrapnel, Got Blooze, West teams with the great Aynsley Dunbar on drums and reprises the success he had with his 2003 Shrapnel CD, Blues To Die For. Also on hand are bassist Tim Bogert and Kevin Curry (rhythm guitar). Kicking off the CD with a rockin’ uptempo version of “Baby Please Don’t Go,” West assumes a rock outlaw stance, blowing out the amps with covers of a slow blusey “I Can’t Quit You”, “Politician”, “House Of The Rising Sun” and a downright scary version of the Leiber-Stoller chestnut “Riot In Cell Block #9.” Got Blooze truly lives up to it’s blooze-rock tribute namesake with a fine cover of the 1969 Free classic “Walk In My Shadow.” Special credits to photographer Chris Marksbury, who’s photography really enhances the CD artwork. Check out Marksbury’s website for info on his new CD. /

- Back in 2001, guitarist Billy McLaughlin released an album with DJ Free, under their group name Soulfood, called Guitar Meditations. Shortly afterwards, Billy was diagnosed with an incurable neuromuscular disease that crippled his left hand, putting an end to his recording career. Four years later, Soulfood Music has taken McLaughlin’s last three unreleased recordings and formed the basis for a new Soulfood album called Guitar Meditations Volume II. Organized by Free, this 12 track CD features McLaughlin’s music along with new added tracks from several guitarists Dan Schwartz and Ron Cohen. Commenting on the 2005 release McLaughlin comments, "When the label asked me to record another CD I told them about my situation. A few days later I called them back and said I had an idea about my unreleased work. I suggested that we work with one of my former students who is really connected to my music and to the artform of fingerstyle guitar, Dan Schwartz. I knew he could provide some complimentary tracks and they also wanted to feature Ron Cohen. While I am terribly sad about not being able to play anymore, it makes me really happy that these last three tracks can finally be heard. I loved playing guitar so much. The first two cuts on this CD really show that. I'd say the whole project lands on the upbeat side of the meditation landscape. You wouldn't have to be into meditation to enjoy this music." A wonderful compliment and tribute to Billy McLaughlin’s original guitar vision, Guitar Meditations II is an outstanding collection of acoustic guitar magic, boasting substance to match its style. Guitar Meditations II is great music for meditation or just marveling and the wonders of the acoustic guitar.

- A mix of light-jazz mixed flavored with evocative Latin and Brazilian samba jazz sounds, Café Siesta is a tasty solo instrumental guitar CD flavored with some fine intimate musical moods. Also embracing low key neoclassical guitar sounds tempered with a fondness for Erik Satie, Steve Funk’s work on nylon, steel, 12 string, mandolin and electric bass is exemplary here. A showcase for his guitar work—with backing on flutes, bongo, cello, electric bass and castanets—the eleven track CD is certainly among the breeziest, most whimsical solo guitar albums of the year. In addition to his solo sounds, the Oregon-based Funk also performs a variety of Latin and world-music styles with his wind, string and percussion instruments group, Voxanova.

- In the words of Las Vegas based singer-songwriter Steven Kalas, “Songwriting is the most authentic voice I possess. You don’t have to agree with what I say in a song, but you damn well better believe that I believe it.” Described as a mix between Jerry Garcia, Cat Stevens and Paul Simon, Kalas exhibits some fine songwriting and singing on his 2005 self-produced CD, Finally Here. Backed by his group, Paper Cymbal—including guitarist Dale Braun—Kalas skirts the borders of folk-rock and adult pop with finesse.

- Back in the ‘60s Capitol Records was one of the best country music labels. In addition to releasing albums from Buck Owens & The Buckaroos and Glenn Campbell, Capitol also released some great instrumental albums including three titles reissued by Sundazed in 2005. Part of the Sundazed The Guitars That Won The West! series, Corn Pickin’ & Slick Slidin’ features a dozen tracks by two of the best guitarists of all time, James Burton and Ralph Mooney. With Burton on Telecaster and Mooney on pedal steel, the album—first released in 1966—features an instrumental blend of then current country and pop hits highlighted by Burton’s memorable title track, “Corn Pickin.” Also on Sundazed, Country Music’s Two Guitar Greats, from Merle Travis and Joe Maphis tackles a dozen Travis and Maphis originals as well as covers of Bill Monroe and Chet Atkins. Originally released in 1964, the CD adds in new liner notes as well as the original liner notes written by Chet Atkins. Lastly from Sundazed, Steel Guitar by pedal steel guitar wizard Speedy West was made 50 years ago, yet his guitar playing and songwriting has rarely been equaled. Among the many fine players appearing with West here are guitarists Billy Strange and Jimmy Bryant as well as bassist Cliffie Stone, who also penned the original album liner notes. Although West passed away in 2003, his legacy lives in the grooves of Steel Guitar. Once again, Sundazed has done a great job reissuing some long lost instrumental guitar treasures from the well of American music history.

- Over in England Heist released a pop treat with A Shoekeeper Will Not Appear. Clearly enamored with the suave European film sounds of Michel Legrand and Francis Lai as well as pop smarts of Pink Floyd and ABBA, the group exhibit some fine British pop smarts along the way. The multi-talented Mike Targett (on vocals, keys, guitars and more) is backed by fine players including Allison Thomson on backing vocals and zither. Heist pull off their appealing concept with sizzle and pizzazz.

In the words of Longboard Ranch founder Bruce Duncan, “You’d think we were trying to be The Ventures or something!” and that’s just what surf-rock disciples will feel after they hear the second full length CD from these California instro rockers. After hearing their dedicated sound, it’s obvious these five guys share a wealth of experiences. According to the band’s other guitarist, Loyd Davis, “I liked “Foot Patter” by The Fireballs, but also dug Duane Eddy and Link Wray. In 1959 I started hearing of a new guitar hero from Orange County named “Dick Dale”. I remember buying a copy of “Let’s Go Trippin” sometime in 1961.” Releasing their 22 track CD Surfin’ Out West in 2002, Longboard Ranch follows suit with the 2005 release of Longboard Ranch Rides Again! A tasty mix of Duncan and Davis guitar rockers, the 25 all instrumental CD rocks up a storm and is nicely tempered with nostalgic covers of instro favorites like “Apache”, “The Savage” and a set closing cover of the Miles Corbin classic “Spanish Blue.” Duncan adds, “I want to shout from the rooftop how totally stoked I am to be part of this group of killer musicians.” Visions of surfers riding their long boards spring to life upon hearing this classic album of vintage West Coast surf-rock instrumentals.

- Universal Music continues to resource material from the archives for a number of reissue packages and their 2005 Gold series is the best way for the novice to experience the greatness of rock music. Among the latest, Cream Gold is a double CD set on Polydor / Chronicles that examines the greatest of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Eric “Slowhand” Clapton and producer Felix Pappalardi live and in the studio. The In The Studio half features 21 Cream classics including the rarity “Anyone For Tennis”, while the Live half of Cream Gold features a number of their live extended jams like “N.S.U.”, “Toad” and “Sunshine Of Your Love.” A sixteen page booklet excellent photos, up to date liner notes (mentioning their 2005 comeback concerts) and discography information. Also from Geffen / Chronicles, The Mamas & The Papas Gold compiles thirty two tracks from five different M + P albums including classic albums like If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears (1966) and Deliver (1967). Other recent Gold series releases on Universal include titles from The Moody Blues, Bob Marley, Aerosmith, Tom Jones, ABBA and Kiss.
If you still have visions of Paul McCartney playing “Drive My Car” at the 2005 Super Bowl then maybe you’d agree that Big Bang Theory proves it’s point that ‘60s rock from England is still the benchmark among the greatest 20th Century musical breakthroughs. Rockin’ since the ‘72 Styx debut, singer-guitarist Tommy Shaw and company are once again in fine form throughout the 14 track stadium rock tribute to the music greats. Included on this 2005 UMG CD are Styx versions of classics from The Beatles (“I Am The Walrus”), The Who (“I Can See For Miles”), Blind Faith, Procol Harum, CSN&Y, Lovin’ Spoonful, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, The Pretty Things, Willie Dixon, Ray Charles, Humble Pie and more. Regardless of what you think of tribute albums, Styx make it real on their self-styled tribute to classic rock. Also guesting on the CD is Chuck Berry keyboardist Johnnie Johnson.

- From Sweden, the group commonly referred to as The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, (TSOOL) combine for some high and mighty post-psych sounds flavored with the energy, rage and bombast of punk pop. Commenting on making what may be their best yet with the 2005 CD release Origin Vol. II on Universal, singer Ebbot Lundberg adds, “Yeah, I really think we did. It’s magical. There’s so many tracks that I’m really happy about.” Commenting on a possible follow up lead guitarist Ian Persen relates, “We had 18 songs at one point on the album, then we just decided to have 12. There’s gonna be this Phase II.” With Origin Vol II TSOOL come off like Sweden’s U2, while the bizarre CD art work is excellent as well.

- A great new pop CD worth checking out is the self-titled 2003 CD release from Seattle-based Tiny Volcano. A fine pop quartet featuring lead guitarist Jon Ecklund and singer songwriter Scott McPherson, the band have been favorable compared to greats like The Wondermints, Jellyfish, XTC, Crowded House and Owsley and on this recent CD they don’t disappoint. Fifteen hook-laden songs linked together in a highly listenable order, Tiny Volcano is the top of the pops.

- Does anybody remember the ‘80s? Or even want to? John Lennon was shot dead, MTV had all but decimated the collective musical imagination, America was literally caught with their pants down by the CD revolution taking place in Japan and Europe, and the internet was a pipe dream more than ten years off in the distance. Right in the middle of the decade from hell, Live Aid took place on July 13, 1985. A worthy humanitarian effort organized by Bob Geldof and MC’d by the late great Bill Graham to help bring attention to mass starvation taking place in Africa, the transatlantic Live Aid concert event took place on that fateful date in both London and Philadelphia and was broadcast on live TV. Taking part in the festivities at Wembley and RFK stadium were some of the biggest names in rock history including Paul McCartney, The Who, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Elton John, Crosby Stills & Nash, Cliff Richard, Bob Dylan, Dire Straits and hundreds more. Despite those bloated corporate rock years and the import CD ripoffs of that trying decade and the groups who dared not fill the void in those harrowing post-Lennon, MTV years, the WSM four DVD Live Aid comes off in 2005 as kind of a revelation. Watching a revitalized Brian Wilson lead The Beach Boys through their four track set here is the unexpected delight, while the 10+ hour LA box set also features several videos including a documentary entitled “Food and Trucks and Rock ‘n’ Roll” helps sets the Live Aid story straight.

-U.K. singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl tragically died in an accident in Mexico on December 19, 2000 her musical passion lives in the grooves of a 2005 CD reissue of her 1994 pop music masterpiece Titanic Days. Remastered while adding a bunch of unreleased cuts, the 23 track double CD is now enhanced with detailed liner notes and lyrics and a second disc filled with remixes, live tracks and studio rarities. Released on the avant gard ZTT label, home of The Art Of Noise, Titanic Days still sparkles and still exemplifies the finest musical spirit of classic ‘90s pop.

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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