Record Label and Music Spotlight 




on Edisun


on Spaces Web

on Columbia



ALCHEMY RECORDS - Described as minimalist guitar music, Things Behind The Sun, the fifth solo album from Jon Durant is actually a soaring progressive masterpiece of full blown symphonic guitar excursions. Assisted by the great Tony Levin (electric upright bass) and Vinnie Sabatino (drums), Durant achieves a stellar mix of jazzy rock and ECM style musical moods on Things Behind The Sun. Recorded in between Durant’s production and film score work, Things Behind The Sun offers a superbly recorded round of futuristic, groundbreaking guitar techniques with Durant masterfully performing on guitars, cloud guitar, duduk guitar and guitar synth. An artist currently being produced by Jon Durant, his his older brother Kingsley Durant, recorded and released his 2004 CD Away From The Water on Alchemy Records. Compared to Jon Durant’s electronic soundscapes, Kingsley’s Away From The Water favors acoustic guitar instrumentals (with the occasional vocal and electric guitar) in the spirit of Michael Hedges, Pat Metheny and Eric Johnson, who Durant covers on “When The Sun Meets The Sky”. With assistance from Jon Durant, Vinny Sabatino and Viktor Krauss on acoustic bass Away From The Water is a most atmospheric acoustic guitar sojourn.

-Few guitarists playing and recording today have been so successful at merging Spanish guitar, New Age flamenco and syncopated World Beat jazz as tastefully as California based Armik. A favorite among flamenco guitar watchers, Armik is on quite a roll this year having released Romantic Dreams late in 2003, Piano Nights in early 2004 and now Armik reaches new heights with the Bolero Records release of his fifth instrumental Bolero CD, Treasures. In line with the radiant CD cover art, the music on Treasures is quite spirited and—with every musical variation and daredevil flamenco guitar lick, distinctively authentic. Compared to many nouveau flamenco guitarists today, Armik rocks and on Treasures, Armik continues to refine state of the art nouveau flamenco guitar. In addition to fine track by track liner notes, state of the art CD mastering from Bernie Grundman neatly caps off Armik’s most persuasive album to date.

- Produced by Jaimie Vernon & Him Hoek for Bullseye Records of Canada, It Was 40 Years Ago Today: A Tribute To The Beatles collects 50 covers of Fab Four history as interpreted by a number of well known Beatles worshipers as well as some promising newcomers. Hits right off from the first 25 covers on disc 1—Andrew Gold pulls off an astoundingly true to life cover of “Lady Madonna” and a cover of “Norwegian Wood” by Cats & Dogs that sounds more inspired by “I Am The Walrus”. Disc 2 kicks off with a suitably majestic cover of “Here Comes The Sun” by Dave Rave & The Wretches and oozes sheer retro Beatlemania with a reconstructed rave-up of “She’s Leaving Home” by Steve Barton, a bluesy projection of “Eleanor Rigby” by the ever great Al Kooper, a power pop rave-up of “Oh! Darling” by Phil Vincent, a Lou Reed inspired reading of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” by Jim Basnight and a truly fab revamp called “Golden Slumbers Medley” by Brian Gagnon. Those and many other high quality pop goodies here make it of interest to casual listeners and diehard Beatles disciples. With a cool spoof of The Beatles (white album) cover art and insightful booklet giving track by track anecdotes on the song origins, the two CD track set serves as a valuable history lesson behind the greatest pop of a lifetime and a fine A&R primer on the 50 gifted groups participating. Bullseye hits their mark with the living nostalgia of It Was 40 Years Ago Today.

- You could hardly go anywhere in early 1971 without hearing that great Brewer & Shipley folk-rock classic “One Toke Over The Line” on FM radio. What the folk-rock duo couldn’t do on a late ‘60s A&M release, they straightened out and flew right by on a pair of albums they made for Kama Sutra Records in the early ‘70s. Played extensively on FM radio, the second Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley album on Kama Sutra, Tarkio spawned the radical “One Toke” and a classic title track, “Tarkio Road”, while their very first Kama Sutra album, Weeds boasted memorable covers of “Witchi-Tai-To” and “All Along The Watchtower”. Released as a 20 track two-on-one CD on Collector’s Choice, Weeds and Tarkio featured a number of ace backing musicians including Nick Gravenites, Mike Bloomfield, Nicky Hopkins and Jerry Garcia to name a few. That said, it’s really Brewer & Shipley’s great folk-rock anthems and harmonies that make them so special. Find out how great they were on the essential CD reissue of Weeds & Tarkio.
An amazing relic from the early ‘70s, the self titled Space Opera from the group Space Opera was released by Epic Records in Canada in 1972. Over the years the pop classic has gained a following and thankfully Collector’s Choice reissued the album in 2004 with original art, photos and complete lyrics. Comparable to the finest pop / rock albums from that magical dawn of the ‘70s period, Space Opera not only had a cool folk-rock thing down pat, but they could also rock out and—featuring the guitars of —evoke some majestic, experimental guitar-based jazz-rock sounds as evidenced by both the album’s brilliant 7+ minute instrumental entitled “Guitar Suite” and the mesmerizing guitar orchestrations of the CD closer “Over And Over”. Sounding clearly influenced by the soaring vocal harmonies and jangly guitar sounds of ‘70s Byrds, America and especially CSN&Y, the Space Opera album remains a unique, vital rock album ripe for rediscovery.

COLUMBIA RECORDS - Don’t forget that these gorgeous female voice were conceived of by some of the greatest singers and songwriters in American music history. Of course, we’re talking about the lush harmonies of Wilson Phillips, whose appropriately titled album California was released on Columbia during the summer of 2004. Although John Phillips, father of Chyna Phillips can’t be here today, Brian Wilson, father of Wendy and Carnie Wilson, mercifully provides his Beach Boy harmonies and piano on a set closing cover of “In My Room”. Further covers of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Brown, The Byrds, The Youngbloods, Eagles and of course, The Beach Boys places the final touches from this vivid pop postcard from the West Coast. Produced by the ubiquitous pop pundit Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon), the CD features the best in the west including guitarists David Rolfe and Dean Parks, drummer Russ Kunkel and keyboardist Roger Manning.

- One of America’s greatest beautiful music and soundtrack composers Henry Mancini, might have passed away back in June of 1994, yet his music lives on eternally. Mancini’s history making music is once again paid tribute to on a superbly produced 2004 Concord Records release entitled Ultimate Mancini. Released in time for the composer’s 80th birthday—and the the 37 cent Mancini postage stamp adorning the CD cover art—the 17 track CD features new Mancini covers with key contributions from his daughter Monica Mancini (vocals), the “Ultimate Mancini Orchestra” with studio performance highlights by Stevie Wonder (amazing harmonic on “Moon River”), Take 6, Gary Burton, Tom Scott blazing away on “Peter Gunn” and more. From his liner notes Steely Dan founder Donald Fagen writes, “Henry Mancini composed the soundtrack for my adolescence. Ultimate Mancini collects some of his most gorgeous pieces, newly recorded and lovingly produced.” Newcomers and long time fans looking to check out the real deal owe it to themselves to check out the 2004 RCA / BMG Heritage CD release of Midnight, Moonlight & Magic: The Very Best Of Henry Mancini. Excellent liner notes by Didier Deutsch adds some fitting commentary on Mancini’s legacy, yet it’s the music—all original Mancini recordings—that does the speaking here. 23 of Mancini’s most illustrious film scores tracks—including the ‘60s originals of “The Pink Panther Theme”, “Moon River”, “Peter Gunn”, “Charade”, “Mr. Lucky”, “Dreamsville” and more are all collected under one roof on this essential Mancini retrospective.

- B.J. Cole may be one of England’s great pedal steel guitarists, but his 2004 album, Trouble In Paradise is as far from typical country twang as you can get. Cole has earned his reputation as one of England’s most versatile steelers and over the years he’s worked with talents as diverse as Sting, John Cale and Spiritualized. Assisted by a range of hip electronica and DJ / chill artists such as Luke Vibert, singer Laura B. and Groove Armada, Cole’s latest mix of vocal and instrumental tracks is a mighty strange groove indeed. Described as a sound that blends house music with bluegrass (especially evident on the track “Surf Acid Hoedown”), Trouble showcases Cole’s pedal steel guitar expertise in some of the wildest settings ever imagined for the time honored twangy pedal sound. According to B.J., “many of the sounds on the album (saxes, piano, organ, etc) are generated from the pedal steel using a MIDI pickup and interface triggering synthesizers.” Imagine if Bowie and Eno traveled back into the time tunnel to produce Martin Denny in Hawaii...well you get the idea. Co-produced by Cole’s long time collaborator on his other solo albums, (Transparent Music, Heart Of The Moment and Stop The Panic) Guy Jackson, and released on the U.K. based Cooking Vinyl, Trouble In Paradise pushes the pedal steel envelope deep into the musical twilight zone. A fascinating, unearthly experience from start to finish, Trouble In Paradise spotlights exemplary artwork and Cole’s notes puts his groovy, psychedelic hoe-down into fitting perspective.

- The new age craze of the ‘90s may have subsided a bit in the harsh afterburn of the brutal double 0’s, yet the latest from California guitarist Michael Diamond brings you right back the essence of the therapeutic, ambient sound of cosmic music. Spotlighting Diamond’s work on guitars and guitar synth, the album is further enhanced by New Age kingpin Steven Halpern, who adds in ‘harmonious soundwaves.’ In the spirit of Halpern’s best work, Atlantis Rising is a glorious, meditative sound excursion combining the intricate elements of today’s music technology with the healing music of the ages. While the CD is quite meditative, Diamond also points out, “the last song on the album is an acknowledgment of my two main influences as a guitarist—Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. The soaring lead guitar is inspired by Carlos and the psychedelic middle section with the backwards guitars is a nod to Jimi.” Atlantis Rising is a great album to space out with or simply meditate to and yes, Jimi would approve.

- Celebrating 35 years of music making, NRBQ return with, Dummy, their new CD release on their self-owned Edisun imprint. Still featuring founding members Terry Adams (keyboards, vocals), Joey Spampinato (bass, vocals) and Tom Ardolino (since 1974 on drums), the group is completed by Joey’s brother, Johnny Spampinato (guitar). Since they started up in 1967, NRBQ have been praised by greats like Hendrix, McCartney, Costello and R.E.M. as well as being a source of inspiration for gifted pop bands like Barenaked Ladies and They Might Be Giants. Cult heroes renowned for their wide variety of recordings crisscrossing rock, pop, jazz, blues, R&B, country and rockabilly, NRBQ remain one of the hardest-working enigmas of the mainstream music business. Hopefully that will change yet again with the 2004 release of Dummy. Kicking off with a socially satirical title track, Dummy lights on an astonishing range of pop based goodies—including a Beatles style backburner, “Call Of The Wild”—topped off by classic ventriloquist dummy cover art. Tying into the 2004 release of Dummy is the first NRBQ DVD release, on Music Video Distributors, entitled One In A Million. Described as “a representative slice of NRBQ in their prime”, the DVD revisits a 1989 live performance (featuring guitarist “Big Al” Anderson) along with an NRBQ slide show, a 2004 video for the title track to Dummy as well as extensive liner notes from Creem magazine editor Dave DiMartino.

- Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey continue to beat the bootleggers to the punch on the latest round of live double CD sets from The Who. Chronicling their 2004 tour, The Who Encore Series 2004 offers a good testament of the band, now in their fifth decade together. Offering live covers of their most enduring classics from “The Kids Are Alright”, “Substitute and more all the way to live versions of both the band’s first two studio recordings in over 20 years, “Old Red Wine” and “Real Good Looking Boy”, the Encore Series 2004 sound quality is excellent. While retaining the sparse look and packaging of a bootleg, the CD is actually a benefit series with all profits going to benefit charities supported by The Who. Check out Townshend’s web site for the entire scoop on this action packed live in concert series of vintage Who music.

- Steve Vai’s label released one of their first forays into the spy/surf realm with the 2004 release of Instromania by the excellent South Florida’s instrumental surf-rock band The Dillengers. Guitarist Rick Rossano and his merry band hit the mainline pumped on a set of high octane instrumentals that’s more Dick Dale than Duane Eddy, but that’s where the fun starts. Unique originals like the springy shoot the curl vibes of “Astrosurfin” and way over the top rockin’ covers of huge instro names like Morricone, Lordan, Eddy and Wray fuel a fire that threatens out of control yet always stays on course. And where else might you find an soundtrack ditty that merges the time honored “Mr. Moto” with the theme from “The Munsters”. Kick your shoes off and sit a spell.

FUEL 2000
- Leslie West and Corky Laing were half of Mountain during their early ‘70s heyday. America’s answer to Cream, the band featured West and Laing under the music guidance of the late, great Felix Pappalardi. A 2004 release on Fuel 2000, Eruption combines two vintage live concerts from NYC (disc 1, 1985) and on disc 2 live in Belgium (2003). Hearing West and Laing reclaim classic tracks from Mountain Climbing, Nantucket Sleighride and even West’s ‘69 Mountain CD makes for a noteworthy Deja Vu experience. West’s huge stage presence and characteristic humor, powerhouse vocals and NYC-style guitar projections are as apparent in 2003 as they were 35 years ago. Expert notes from Greg Russo puts a fitting finish on a welcome addition to the Mountain discography and legend. /

- Guitar pioneer Duane Eddy is living history when it comes to instrumental guitar, so it’s quite fascinating to discover a rare CD of his entitled Songs Of Our Heritage, featuring the guitar hero playing an album of American folk music standards dating back to the 1860 American civil war. Hearing Eddy performing classic American folk tunes like “Streets Of Laredo”, “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Scarlet Ribbons”—assisted by top players like Al Casey (bass), Jim Horn (flute) and Larry Knechtel (vibraphone)—will be a real ear-opener for those who are only familiar with Eddy’s classic guitar instro rock sound. Like the original album notes by Lee Hazelwood pointed out, these are the songs that Eddy loved the most and all the guitars, as well as Spanish guitar and banjo are performed by Eddy. Locating the original three track master tapes for the first time after 40+ years, Jamie / Guyden has revamped the classic eleven track 1960 Lp on their 2004 CD reissue, and adding in eight alternate take bonus tracks, historic liner notes, original notes and a full color poster that came with the original Lp.

- Recorded in November 2000, Samba de Novembro finds guitarist Rick Stone in the company of key players including drummer Matt Wilson. Stone wrote track by track liner notes for this 2004 release. One of the finest straight-ahead jazz guitarists on the current NYC scene, the Brooklyn-based Stone is in top form on his instrumental CD, which mixes a number of Stone originals with classic covers of Rogers & Hart, Kenny Wheeler, Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk. A fine player in the spirit of giants like Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell, Stone was also inspired by guitar legends such as Attila Zoller and Ted Dunbar and he fittingly devotes the CD’s final track, “In Loving Memory” to them.

- Several earlier albums from Connecticut based guitarist Michael Coppola (Enter The Hydra - 2000 and Return Of The Hydra - 2001) made references to creatures of Greek mythology and he continues in that orb with his 17 track 2004 CD, Solo Acoustic Monster Guitar. Recording in a solo guitar setting, Coppola flexes his monster fingerstyle guitar chops—on both steel and nylon string acoustic guitars—on a collection of rock, jazz, country and classical acoustic guitar instrumentals that shows off his impressive fretboard dexterity and wide breadth of musical influences. Key to Coppola’s sound are his four unique sounding nine string acoustic guitars, built by famed luthier James DeCava. Referred to in guitar circles as the “Hydra”, the guitar enables Coppola to achieve the wide sweeping chords and phrasing used by jazz keyboardists. Regarding the tracks featured on Monster Guitar, it’s all over the map. A pair of Hendrix covers (“Little Wing” and “The Wind Cries Mary”) mix things up nicely with further covers of The Beatles (“Blackbird”), Duane Eddy (“40 Miles Of Bad Road”), Eric Johnson (“Cliffs Of Dover”), Mozart (“Rondo Alla Turca”) and more. Commenting on his guitar influences, Coppola adds, “40 Miles Of Bad Road” and “Tiger Rag” were arrangements I took from Albert Lee and put on solo guitar. “The Beaumont Rag” was from Doc Watson, “Black MT Rag” from Chet, and “Night Train” from Oscar Peterson”. Also From the liner notes, Coppola proclaims, “This is a live acoustic guitar recording made without the use of overdubs, loops or delays.” Apparent after listening to Monster Guitar is Coppola’s supreme mastery of the 9 string acoustic guitar as well as his immense respect for the classic music he so skillfully covers here.

- Jingle-jangle pure power pop played to perfection, Action Pact is the latest CD from Toronto rockers Sloan. Relocating to L.A. for the 2004 recording and picking up on producer Tom Rothrock, the quartet pull out all the stops on Action Pact. Comparisons to ‘70s pop icons Cheap Trick and Badfinger aside, there’s some memorable, original tracks on the 14 track CD. In the words of guitarist Patrick Pentland, “It used to be about four guys equally represented but this time, it wasn’t so much about expressing yourself as trying to put together a fun rock record” with the band’s other guitarist Jay Ferguson adding, “The funny thing is upbeat, but underneath it, there’s a darkness.”

- Before The Beatles, (BtB) few Englishmen were able to make much of a dent on the American pop chart. One did however. His name was Joe Meek, England’s late, great producer / music Svengali who crafted an instrumental classic for it’s time called “Telstar”, which miraculously rode into the number two slot on the American pop charts (and everywhere else on Earth) during Christmas of 1962. The world was a great place back then and few songs were able to capture that sense of zealous wonder at the dawn of the ‘60s as well as “Telstar” did. The Tornados were Meek prodigies and armed with Joe’s studio and compositional finesse, the song, as recorded by The Tornados, redefined instrumental music world-wide, a fact underscored by a 2003 CD tribute to the song on Magic Records entitled Telstarmania. Kicking off with the Tornados original, Meek-produced version, the CD goes about the honor of compiling and sequencing 22 different versions of “Telstar” as recorded since 1962 by instro icons like The Shadows (who covered it on their 1981 classic Hits Up Your Street), a second fabulous 1975 rerecording of the song by The Tornados, as well as more versions by The Ventures, The Challengers, The Spotnicks and a whole slew of unknown instro bands. A song for the ages, the instrumental wonder of “Telstar” linked continents (and worlds, no doubt in Joe Meek’s mind) and the magic lives on yet.

- In the years following his stint in the heavy metal band Testament, guitarist Alex Skolnick turned his attention to jazz improvisation. Fronting a power jazz fusion trio called Attention Deficit and releasing two critically acclaimed instrumental albums with Michael Manring and Tim Alexander on Magna Carta, Skolnick has also gained a following with his own trio and his latest release on Magnatude, Transformation continues his penchant for reworking hard rock tunes from Pink Floyd (“Money”), Deep Purple (“Highway Star”) and more as vintage sounding jazz fusion tracks. Furthering Skolnick’s impeccable, jazzy guitar workouts, Nathan Peck (double bass) and Matt Zebroski (drums) egg on the guitarist into a musical terrain that owes more to Grant Green and Wes Montgomery than Deep Purple, Judas Priest or even Joe Satriani for that matter.

- Assisted by fusion icons like Mahavishnu violin maven Jerry Goodman and Phil Chen (bassist on Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow), guitar wiz Marc Klock unleashed his latest CD Tentacle Dreams in 2004. Echoing the feel of the guitar greats who came before him, including Holdsworth, McLaughlin and Jeff Beck, Klock taps into the vintage fusion sound, while also crafting a sonic guitar fusion hybrid for the new millennium. Recorded at Klock’s Fusion Studio in L.A., Tentacle Dreams was produced and mixed by Klock and the attention to detail and sonic layering is most apparent—from mastering to pressing. Klock and Goodman share the soundstage, egging each other on with daredevil pyrotechnics in the finest Mahavishnu Orchestra spirit. Klock knows when to plow underneath with his cutting edge rhythm work, but he also knows when it’s time to cut loose with a scintillating guitar solo. If you like your fusion hot and heavy, with guitar work that thrills, pick up on Tentacle Dreams.

- One of the most eclectic guitarists working today, S.F.-based Carl Weingarten chronicles high points from his many fine solo albums on the 66+ minute, 16 track Hand In The Sand - A Collection 1990-2004. Commenting on his 2004 retrospective Carl adds, “This compilation serves as a personal mile marker. No journey is made without stopping to consult the map.” Spanning tracks featured on a number of Weingarten CDs released between 1990-2004, the compilation features a number of key players including Brian Knave (drums), Michael Manring (bass, ebow), Robert Powell (pedal steel) and Barry Cleveland (percussion). From start to finish, the CD maintains a steady, interesting flow and to cap things off, there’s a new exclusive track, entitled “Holographic Blues”, as well as two tracks from Carl’s upcoming Spring 2005 album Local Journeys. A modern master of the dobro, ebow, as well as classical and slide guitars, Weingarten has been compared, throughout his career, to greats like Robert Fripp, Leo Kottke and Ry Cooder and in the spirit of those legendary fretboard masters Hand In The Sand covers a wide range of phenomenal guitar visions.

- One of the best kept secrets from the state of Oklahoma, guitar ace Terry Ware released his best album yet in 2004. The all instrumental 12 track Ridin’ The Reverb Range finds Ware reviving the instro guitar field made famous by The Ventures, The Shadows, Booker T & The MG's, Frank Zappa and more recently by Los Straitjackets. With track titles like “Galactic Orphan (Meek’s Shadow)” and “Bob Goes To Spy School”, Ware keeps the spirits high and he even sums up fine covers of the Davie Allan classic “Chopper / Fender Bender” while offering his own instro take on the Dusty Springfield chestnut “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”. Featuring a range of originals, the CD establishes Ware right up there America’s finest spy/surf guitar practitioners.

- Featuring a roster of talent and releases that spotlight the classic guitar sounds of Hawaii, Palm Records is one of the top record labels from the 50th state. A 2003 various artists compilation on Palm, Slack Key Guitar Volume 2, assembles fourteen tracks from ten modern slack key guitarists including Sonny Lim, Bryan Kessler, Ken Emerson and Charles Michael Brotman. As the CD liner notes point out, the CD was recorded on the Big Island of Hawaii, the very place where Mexican and Spanish cowboys introduced the Hawaiians to the guitar back in the 1800’s. All Palm Records CD releases feature attractive cover art and the gorgeous sound quality can’t be beat. In addition to Palm’s Slack Key Guitar series, they also feature a number of releases from Kohala, a Hawaiian ensemble that mixes island sounds with gentle jazz instrumentals featuring acoustic, classical and slack key guitars.

- I really feel for those younger up and coming pop pundits. Imagine having to compete with all time classic rock classics like Odessey & Oracle and Pet Sounds featuring a singer that can hold an album’s worth of attention such as Colin Blunstone or Brian and Carl Wilson. Well once and a while some upstart with undaunted courage and prodigal talent steps forth to stake his claim. In this case, Kevin Tihista lays his cards on the table with the wildly successful Wake Up Captain from his band, Kevin Tihista’s Red Terror. Like Zombies founder Rod Argent and Brian Wilson, Tihista is a multi-talented singer-songwriter and arranger who is well versed on a range of instruments, in this case guitars and keyboards. The instrumentation is richly recorded and the vivid production on Wake Up Captain is a modern reminder of Beatles producer George Martin’s fabled ‘60s studio work. A range of fine players and talented back-up singers help Tihista succeed in his effort to consummate a modern pop album that clearly has it’s heart and soul in the 1960’s. Oh and extra points for that amazing CD cover art.

POP COLLECTIVE / NEW SURF - Music director for the Brian Wilson band, vocalist/guitarist Jeff Foskett released a 2004 CD compilation on Pop Collective. Backed up by informative track by track liner notes, Stars In The Sand collects 14 Foskett classics including the lead off “Living Alone” (co-written by Robert Lamm), “Cool And Gone” a pair of Foskett covers written by Marshall Crenshaw (also featuring Marshall on guitar), a cover of the Neal Sedaka classic “Laughter In The Rain” and a Foskett version of “I Live For The Sun”, written by Richard Henn for his group The Sunrays. Few artists are capable of summoning of the best spirit of West Coast Beach Boys style pop as brilliantly as Jeff Foskett and all the proof you need comes together on Stars In The Sand.

RAINBOW QUARTZ - NYC based Rainbow Quartz continues releasing way cool retro flavored modern pop album. Recent titles by Myracle Brah as an example, RQ follow through with the 2004 CD entitled Take Me Take Me by Spain’s premier psych-pop ensemble The Zinedines. With hand on the pulse of Beatles inspired ‘60s sounds and another on the brave new world of a diminishing planet, the quartet boasts stellar songwriting and musicianship from all including singer-songwriter Manuel Martinez and his brother / guitarist Miguel Martinez, the band makes a first class statement regarding the true internationality and timelessness of catchy, evergreen pop played with vision and hindsight. /

RICH ROGER - Currently teaching guitar in Connecticut, Long Island native Rich Roger found time in 2004 to release a fine CD of superbly recorded electric guitar instrumentals. Fusing blues, Latin, rock, celtic, classical and shredding oriental flavors, Roger, in this trio setting, comes across as a vital recruit from the guitar thought of Malmsteen, Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, yet there’s also some quite unique in Roger’s lucid phrasing and crystal clear guitar tone. A hard rock style instro guitar fusion album brimming with presence and depth, Fire In The Rain shoots and scores.

SILENT PLANET - For the past 40+ years Brian Wilson’s music has been covered by numerous fans and fellow musicians alike and the story continues on the 2004 CD release of Making God SMiLE: An Artist’s Tribute To The Songs Of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. Even for the most jaded or fanatical Wilson fan, there will be something of interest here with highlights including Rick Altizer covering “Surf’s Up”, Doug Powell with an effective “Til I Die”, Phil Keaggy contributing a true to life vision of “Good Vibrations”, Dolour with “This Whole World” and more. Released by North Carolina-based Silent Planet Records—who did a great job with their 2004 compilation by Wilson guitarist Jeff FoskettMaking God SMiLE features a booklet full of personal Wilson / Beach Boys accolades by each of the 17 artists here + colorful artwork spoofing the planned, smiles and grins 1967 Lp jacket artwork of Smile.

SIX FIVE MUSIC - Guitarist Steve Greenbaum covers a wide range of instrumental guitar-based sounds on the ten track Taking A Turn—all of it providing some fine musical scenery. Greenbaum cites the cerebral instrumental guitar sound of Pat Metheny and finger style guitarists like Adrian Legg as influences and you can hear a similar self-confidence and musical density in Greenbaum’s acoustic and electric work. The best tracks here, such as “The Road Calls” feature Greenbaum’s evocative double tracked guitars backed by the sparse yet effective percussion from Eddie Hartness, while other tracks feature full band support from a number of players including Rick Schmidt (bass, violin). Superbly recorded with Greenbaum’s guitar sound mixed front and center, Taking A Turn thrives on a variety of intuitive, guitar-based sound images.

SKYVISION - A graduate of the G.I.T. in L.A., guitar ace Dave Odegaard takes the guitar scene by storm on Second Attention. An impressive mix of weighty progressive rock and heavy guitar ballads, the all instrumental CD pairs Odegaard’s electric guitar with the bass and drums of Wade Biery and John Cardoso. According to the guitarist, “What I went for was a reckless abandon attitude towards playing.” Odegaard’s free-spirited guitar work is reminiscent of the flashy, innovative metal-rock work of Steve Vai and even the melodic, pulsating, instrumental techo-rock of Jan Hammer. Loaded with an abundance of sonic surprises, Second Attention is a fine showcase for Odegaard’s formidable fretboard expertise.

SONY LEGACY - Released by Columbia Records on August 19, 1969—the day after their appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Fair, the debut, self-titled album from Santana remains a watershed moment in the development of American rock music. The original six man Santana lineup—including guitar great Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie (keyboards) and Michael Shrieve (drums)—has forever been considered the definitive lineup of the band. The story of the original Santana lineup and their fabled ‘69 debut album is retold on a 2004 reissue on Sony Music entitled Santana: Legacy Edition. Most long time fans are familiar with the original Santana album, although the 2004 double CD Legacy Edition sheds new light on this history making release, adding in an additional CD of bonus tracks from the original—though never released—January 1969 sessions and the group’s entire seven song, 42 minute set from the ‘69 Woodstock Festival. Quite a revelation for long time Santana fans who might have thought they knew everything about one of the true classics from 1969, the 25 track Santana: Legacy Edition is complete with an impressive booklet filled with rare photos, extensive discography information and 2004 liner notes by Hal Miller.
Another classic artist, originally signed to Columbia at the tail end of the ‘60s, Texas blues rocker and electric / slide guitar ace Johnny Winter is given the deluxe treatment with the 2004 reissue of Second Winter: Legacy Edition. Released in October 1969 as a double Lp—a three sided set with one side blank!—Second Winter was an action-packed follow up to Winter’s classic 1969 self-titled Columbia debut. An overnight success and one of the early American blues-rock classics, Second Winter packed a powerful punch. Kicking off with Winter’s blistering cover of the Percy Mayfield classic, “Memory Pain”, Legacy’s 2004 reissue of Second Winter: Legacy Edition is filled out with a pair of bonus tracks and a second bonus, nine track CD featuring a previously unreleased Winter concert live at the Royal Albert Hall in London on April 17, 1970 spotlighting the Second Winter lineup of Edgar Winter (sax, keyboards), Tommy Shannon (bass) and John Turner (drums).

SOUND CITY - While the latest pop bands continue to wonder just how it all started, it’s worth noting the release of a freshly unearthed musical salute to Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson. Recorded nearly 35 years ago (!), Smile For Me - A Symphonic Salute To Brian Wilson was produced, arranged and conducted by the late great Gary Usher. with sessions commencing at Hollywood’s A&M studios on January 5th, 1970. Featuring orchestral renditions of some of the greatest music of the 20th Century, Smile For Me offers further proof of Wilson’s musical greatness as depicted and interpreted by Usher’s studio production wizardry. Usher, of course, wrote a variety of classics with Wilson, including “In My Room”, one of the ten Wilson classics feted here. While he sadly passed away at the dawn of the ‘90s, Gary Usher would be immensely proud of this 2004 CD release on Sound City Entertainment. Liner notes by Usher confidant Joey Stec offers a timely reminder of Usher’s Wilsonian vision while additional notes from Steve Stanley further itemizes the 1970 SFM sessions, also listing all the great musicians taking part in this rare and beautiful album.

SPACES WEB - Back in the ‘70s, Italy was at the forefront of the ‘70s European jazz rock renaissance. Groups like Perigeo, Tony Esposito and Sensations Fix changed the worldwide perception of musical cultures. More in the spirit of these times, Italian guitarist Marco Iacobini joins forces with Lorenzo Gentile (drums) and Alfredo Paixao (bass/keys) for a 2004 instrumental jazz rock album by their power trio Spaces. Guitarist Marco Iacobini cuts loose on a round of high energy instrumental rock fusion tracks echoing the work of his mentor Steve Lukather. The Spaces album is well played, features intense, dazzling lead guitar lines and is superbly recorded as well. In the words of Iacobini, “The music reflects a collection of ideas I’d been working on at the time. And with the help of my band, each composition developed into a unique statement of texture, emotion and style.” The guitarist puts his Ibanez RG custom guitar to excellent use while also explaining, “the body is of American basswood with quilted maple top, attached to a maple neck fitted with any Brazilian rosewood fretboard, electronics by DiMarzio.” Fans of Lukather will be mighty impressed by Marco’s fleet fingers approach to jazz-rock while also adding in further influences like Jeff Beck, Eddy Van-Halen, Larry Carlton and Yngwie Malmsteen.

SUPERSATURATED RECORDS - Back in the mid ‘80s, guitarist Barry Cleveland released his debut album, Mythos, on Larry Fast’s Audion Records. Both Mythos and his 1989 album Voluntary Dreaming were critically acclaimed for their cutting edge approach to New Age-based electronic music and both were filled with Cleveland skillful work on acoustic / electric guitars and synth / samplers. In the ‘90s Cleveland began writing for music magazines and he also scored with his book, Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, published by MixBooks ( in the Fall of 2001. Also a member of the S.F. Bay area improvisational quintet Cloud Chamber, Cleveland released his latest studio masterpiece, Volcano, in 2004. A colorful, instrumental mix of African rhythms, jazz, ambient and World Music, Volanco features Cleveland’s guitar work backed up by notable players including Cloud Chamber bassist Michael Manring (bass). Interestingly, Cleveland has simultaneously released a double CD retrospective entitled Memory & Imagination,
pairing the best tracks from his two ‘80s albums with previously unreleased material based on guitar and percussion loops, almost entirely played by Cleveland. Otherworldly, mystical and panoramic are just a few adjectives which best describe Cleveland’s flawless approach to ambient, guitar-based electronic instrumental music.

33RD STREET -Minimalist guitar music perfect for that late night stretch of open road on I-95, Long Drive Home establishes Tennessee-based Ralph E. Hayes as the latest proponent of guitar noir. The place where Duane Eddy meets David Gilmour, the 11 track CD mixes various elements including ambient-chill, surf guitar and lounge. Hayes composed and performed the entire set and commenting on his choice of guitars the guitarist adds, “After hearing the Telecaster twang of Pete Anderson, I began to personalize my Strat so that it had the twang of the Tele with the rock sound of the Strat. I also incorporated the Fender Deluxe Reverb into my system because it’s such a clean-sounding amp, and it’s all tube so it has that great big warm sound.".

THUNDERATION -Men Of Steel have got it covered on Live: Men Of Steel - The Art Of The Steel String Guitar. Recorded live on 2/26/03 at the Star Cinema in Stayton, Oregon, the 51 minute CD features an expansive palette of steel string acoustic guitar instrumentals performed by a quartet of guitarists including Don Ross (from Toronto), Tony McManus (of Edinburgh, Scotland), Beppe Gambetta (of Genova, Italy) and Dan Crary (Oregon, USA). Between them, these four players combine a wealth of guitar-based expertise. Whether performing originals like the Don Ross-penned “Loaded. Leather. Moonroof” (described as Pat Metheny meets ZZ Top), the Celtic style “Bagpipe Tunes For Guitar” (featuring McManus) or any of the tracks here, there’s plenty of well crafted sounds to admire. The CD’s lone vocal track—a cover of the Hudie Ledbetter classic, “The Titanic”—featuring Ross, rounds out a sublime live CD of acoustic guitar excellence.

URBAN ISLAND -Milwaukee native Daryl Stuermer grew up listening to Mike Bloomfield, B.B. King and later Howard Roberts, George Benson and fusion fretboard kings like McLaughlin and Coryell. Forming the band Sweetbottom in 1973, he went to be the guitar sound of Jean Luc Ponty and George Duke back in the ‘70s before landing a late ‘70s / early ‘80s role with Genesis. Stuermer played on the debut solo album from Phil Collins back in 1981 and in 2004 is currently playing on what Collins calls his ‘first final farewell tour.’ Also in 2004 Stuermer released his fifth solo recording and fourth CD since starting up his Urban Island imprint. The 9 track Retrofit finds Stuermer backed up by a fine lineup of players including Kostia on keyboards, John Calarco (drums) and Eric Hervey (bass). A mellow, upbeat, instrumental smooth jazz vibe prevails with Stuermer’s fine guitar touch vividly echoing his solo work as well as his work with Collins in a variety of accomplished, guitar-based instrumental settings. Among the best tracks here is an instrumental version of a song co-written with Collins back in 1994 entitled “The Least You Can Do.”

VARESE VINTAGE - Before they struck gold with their early ‘68 album classic Odessey And Oracle, The Zombies were primarily known as a singles band. The group’s first label, Decca, apparently underestimated the greatness within the group, but now forty years later, eighteen classic Zombies sides are recalled on a 2004 self-titled Zombies compilation on L.A.-based Varese. Accurately described as a collection of hits and misses originally recorded on the Decca / Parrot line between 1964 through early ‘67, the Zombies CD accurately portrays Rod Argent, Chris White, Colin Blunstone & Co. as pop visionaries worthy of icon status. Anyone doubting that, should check out their great February ‘66 single “Is This The Dream” b/w “”Don’t Go Away”. Rare stereo and mono mixes—including a stereo mix of “She’s Not There” and Zombies soundtrack sides—are put into perspective with informative liner notes and vintage photos.

WSM - The great WSM axis of Rhino and Warner Bros. continues turning out box sets and new sounds from music greats and with that in mind, in 2004 the label reissued nine solo albums from NYC singer-songwriter legend Paul Simon. Released individually and as part of a 9 CD box set entitled Paul Simon: The Studio Recordings 1972-2000, the spotlight series serves as a weighty compendium of Simon’s songwriting genius. Combined, The Studio Recordings 1972-2000 yields six never before released Simon songs, while individually each CD is enhanced by original artwork, attractive digi-pak design and a generous helping of bonus cuts, acoustic demos, outtakes, soundtrack sides and various works in progress. Following his groundbreaking ‘60s and 1970 work with Simon & Garfunkel, Simon went on to a star-studded solo career, kicking things off with his perennially popular self-titled debut, Paul Simon (1972). Filling out the retrospective set are There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973), Still Crazy After All These Years (1975), One Trick Pony (1980), Hearts And Bones (1983), Graceland (1986), Rhythm Of The Saints (1986), Songs From The Capeman (1997) topped off by Simon’s most recent solo effort, You’re The One (2000). Put together these albums are a textbook lesson in crafting tasty, timeless pop songs ripe for rediscovery for generations to come. One can wait with baited breath for the upcoming studio album from the recently reunited Simon & Garfunkel.

YEP ROC - Brothers Travis Good and Dallas Good (guitars, vocals) join forces with Sean Dean (bass) and Mike Belitsky (drums) for the fifth Sadies release and second on Yep Roc. A host of genres including spaghetti western style instrumentals to a songs that merge the psychedelic country bluegrass twang of Gram Parsons and Clarence White-era Byrds with startling acumen on Favorite Colours. An assortment of guests join the the fun including popmeister Robin Hitchcock, various members of Calexico, Elevator and the Good’s parents. The instrumental tracks really stand out on the 13 track, 32 minute CD with a definite highlights being the Pink Floyd inspired instrumental, “A Burning Snowman” and the British Invasion / Kinks aura of the set closer, “Why Would Anybody Live Here?”

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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