Record Label and Music Spotlight 




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ABKCO RECORDS - A shrewd musical move that has the fingerprints of Beatles / Rolling Stones impresario Allen Klein, the double CD set 40 Licks was first conceived of in 2002 as a joint venture between Klein’s company Abkco and Virgin. Mixing the ‘60s music of The Rolling Stones with tracks from their post - Let It Bleed years and beyond actually helps to blur the lines between the group’s heady ‘60s pop and R&B sound with the band’s trendier, made for FM radio sounds of their ‘70s albums. With disc one adding together 20 of the best Stones singles, disc two compiles 20 more tracks from the post-Brian Jones years topped off by four tracks recorded in 2002 by Mick, Keith, Bill, Charlie and Ron with producer Don Was. There’s a cool booklet with decent notes but, while humorously missing out on single / Lp info, the set interestingly gives detailed credits to a number of key session players who helped embellish these songs with the Stones including Al Kooper, Jack Nitzsche, Marianne Faithfull, Nicky Hopkins, Dave Mason (Dave played a shenai on “Street Fighting Man”), John Paul Jones...and that was just in the ‘60s!

ANGEL AIR RECORDS - Over in England, Angel Air continues releasing great music from the archives of U.K. producer legend Mike Hurst. Their latest, Mike Hurst Producers Archives Volume 2: 1965-1984 further collects some great Hurst productions including the original 1979 recording of “Video Killed The Radio Star” by Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club. The song was actually co-written by Woolley and Trevor Horn, who beat Woolley to punch with a version he made with The Buggles. Other Hurst productions reexamined here include ‘60s tracks by Barry St. John, Truly Smith, Human Instinct (a ‘68 cover of The Byrds’ “Renaissance Fair”), several cuts from Hurst himself including tracks recorded with Jimmy Page on guitar and also ‘80s tracks Hurst made with Samantha Fox and Jonas (featuring Alvin Lee on guitar). Historically, Hurst made a name for himself on early productions with Cat Stevens, Mary Hopkin and Dusty Springfield, yet these equally rewarding, though lesser known pop nuggets sheds further light on the amazing production skills and finesse brought to the pop music world. The 16 track Archives Volume 2 features insightful liner notes by Hurst himself, who is at work compiling an expected Volume 3 for release in ‘05.
Other recent titles on Angel Air includes a 2005 compilation from Ice entitled Ice Man. The 19 track CD captures the classic late ‘60s pop band sounding inspired by the late period psych-pop Spencer Davis Group sound. Featuring new sleeve notes from original vocalist Glyn James, the lost relic pop artifact CD was remastered from 45’s so the sound is more than authentic! Also out on Angel Air is a vital newly recorded 2004 album of Brit-pop CD entitled Pop Yowlin’ from The Look, who originally scored a top ten hit back in 1981. In the spirit of classic late ‘70s U.K. pop bands like The Rumour and Madness, the Look latches on to a sing-song hook and nails it on the inside track.

ASTRALWERKS - Huge in Australia, The Dissociatives recently landed a Stateside deal with NYC-based Astralwerks and for pop fans it comes like manna from on high. Although Split Enz were from New Zealand, their influence spread well into Australia and you can fully hear that well crafted, strangely alluring sound in full flight on their self-titled CD, The Dissociatives. The brainchild of Australian dance music guru Paul Mac and Daniel Johns from the Aussie group Silverchair, the CD merges Beatle-esque pop with a touch Split Enz ala Eno while the snappy instrumentals and ultra strange cover art would put a smile on Eddie Raynor’s face. www.The

AUDIO FIDELITY - One of the most innovative progressive bands from England during the early ‘70s, The Strawbs are remembered with vital 2004 DVD release on the L.A. based Audio Fidelity label. The 80 minute DVD combines a variety of intriguing subject matters including a ten track 1975 live Strawbs concert from Japan and a rarely seen full length video for their all time album classic from 1972, Grave New World, which was originally planned for theatrical release following the album release. Other features of the DVD include a 1970 Strawbs Granada TV appearance with Rick Wakeman in the lineup, a 1974 video interview with Strawbs founder Dave Cousins and a 2002 clip of Cousins and Wakeman performing together live in Wakeman’s studio. When it came to mixing English folk music and progressive rock, few bands were able to equal the power and majesty of The Strawbs, a fact this essential DVD clearly demonstrates.

B-CAT - He may have grown up on Hendrix, Zeppelin and Peter Frampton, but later exposure to fusion jazzers like Steve Morse, Robben Ford and Pat Martino made all the difference in the guitar style of L.A. based guitarist Matthew Von Doran. Seasoned by twenty years of session work, Von Doran steps out as a leader on his 2004 solo debut effort produced by Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip. Featuring the guitarist in a setting with top players such as Bob Mintzer (sax), Larry Goldings (B-3) and four different drummers including Peter Erskine and Terri Lyne Carrington, In This Present Moment establishes Von Doran as a major player on a solid instrumental set that puts a new spin on the post-Metheny / post-Scofield guitar landscape. Von Doran’s words, "The record has a nice eclectic mix but it's not too all over the map” are underscored on a CD that skillfully merges post-bop jazz, atmospheric fusion and funk.

- Always primal and wild than a made for FM radio stereo experience, the music of Jefferson Airplane lives on decades after their ‘60s heyday. The pinnacle was clearly the group’s 1969 album Volunteers, which was reissued last year by RCA / BMG Heritage. This domestic reissue adds in five tracks captured live at the Fillmore in November ‘69, providing a vivid reminder of a year that lives on in musical lore. Released in the Fall of ‘69, Volunteers remains a quintessential snapshot of the definitive Airplane lineup of Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Jack Cassidy, Spencer Dryden and Jorma Kaukonen. Revisiting the classic album art is nostalgia at it’s finest while liner notes provide a historical slant on the Jefferson Airplane as messengers of the anti-war and pro-peace hippie movement of the ‘60s and early ‘70s.

BACKBEAT BOOKS - S.F.-based Backbeat continues releasing high profile books on some of great guitarists of the 20th Century. High on Backbeat’s roster of early 2005 releases is Django Reinhardt - Know The Man, Play The Music. Part biography / part instruction, the spiral bound book takes an in-depth look at Django’s life story in part one, while the second half of the book chronicles chapters on his technique, tone and harmonic approach accompanied by a CD of eight classic Reinhardt recordings, paired with newly recorded backing tracks without lead guitar making it perfect for practice sessions. The stylish 128 page Know The Man, Play The Music was expertly written by U.K.-based Django Reinhardt mavens Dave Gelly—examining Django’s life, and Rod Fogg—who chronicles his music and ‘Djangology’). A fine intro to the Reinhardt legacy, the book is filled with numerous historic b&w photos of the European guitar great.
Also up and out in 2005 on Backbeat is Incurable Blues: the Troubles & Triumph Of Blues Legend Hubert Sumlin. An influential guitarist, Sumlin can be heard on many Chess recordings by Holin’ Wolf while his unique blues work has been an inspiration to greats like Hendrix, Clapton, Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The 272 soft-cover edition was written by Will Romano and features a number of b&w photos. A cool Backbeat soft-cover book from 2004 is Guitar Effect Pedals: The Practical Handbook. Written by U.K.-based Dave Hunter, the 224 page book examines a wealth of effects pedals—vintage models and new high tech devices—and how they supercharge a guitarists’ sound.

BADMAN RECORDING CO. - Back in the ‘60s Elektra Records could do very little wrong and in a strange move during the heady year of 1969 they released the debut album from Bread. Although their ‘69 album was critically acclaimed, the group faded into a premature soft-rock scene. Fourteen cutting edge pop rock artists—including Ken Stringfellow, Jon Auer of The Posies and 12 other ‘60s pop devotees—have banded together on the 2005 Badman CD release Friends And Lovers: Songs Of Bread. There’s no loafing about here, these guys get the power and glory Bread mainman David Gates brought to the FM radio scene back then. In the hands of these younger eager players, the music of Bread winners Gates and the late, great James Griffin comes alive with a fresh vision.

BIG BUG RECORDS - Following a pair of blues-rock releases, guitarist Magic Red cuts loose with a ten track CD of guitar-based instrumentals that tactfully combines elements of hard rock and blues, and a touch of acoustic-flavored instrumentals. Assisted by Nick Douglas (bass), “Texas” Steve Carter (drums) and Rich Fogg (percussion), drives home his rockin’ original instrumentals with a sonic intensity and an appealing clarity of purpose. Regarding his approach to instrumental rock music Red claims, “The guitar to me is so much more than I could ever express in words. It’s a friend, a love affair, a puzzle, a spiritual pursuit.” Inspired by the house in East Rutherford, N.J. where he learned to play guitar, Red takes his guitar vision to a higher ground with 87 Humboldt Street.

BIG SURF BAND - The temperature is minus zero and the surf’s gone wild, but don’t tell that to Minnesota-based Big Surf. The all instro power trio released their rockin’ 16 track CD entitled Action Heroes in 2004. The group’s lead guitarist and principle songwriter, Phil Belknap was born in California and although he moved to Minnesota in the ‘60s, his love of instro surf music followed after him. He strikes gold with the Big Surf CD, which combines a number of guitar instro tracks with faithful covers of Ventures classics like “Diamond Head” and “Journey To The Stars.”

BLUE RAFT MUSIC / CELESTIAL SPHERE - Much like some of the great late ‘70s music from Brian Eno, Kenotic from the group Hammock is dream like floating stuff filled with all kinds of guitar / keyboard mixes. Bordering on a haunting hybrid of celestial electronica, Hammock features some fine interplay between group members Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson. In addition to the glorious electronica backdrop, the 16 track CD features some amazing guitar work that echoes the spirit of Robert Fripp at his most sublime.

BOLERO RECORDS - Nuevo flamenco guitar ace Armik and his Bolero imprint recently expanded their musical empire with the release of the 2005 CD from Young & Rollins. Esperanza finds the guitar duo of Dan Young and Lawson Rollins in fine form on their third duet album and debut CD for Bolero. Fans of Armik’s daredevil GUITAR instrumentals will be mightily impressed with Esperanza. With the title track inspired by the beaches of Esperance, in Western Australia, the eleven track CD goes on to combine the musical styles of European classical music exemplified by the power and passion of Brazilian, salsa, and flamenco traditions Latin guitar music. Seductive guitar sounds with just the right amount of technical guitar virtuosity, Esperanza is a welcome addition to the Bolero Records catalog and is recommended for anyone who enjoys guitar greats like Ottmar Liebert, Strunz & Farah, Oscar López and Jesse Cook. The Young & Rollins CD is rounded out by fine liner notes and—as is the case with all Bolero releases—vivid artwork. Other recent arrivals on Bolero include new CDs from Jason McGuire Distances and Duende by Romero. /

BOOSWEET RECORDS - Guitarist Vernon Neilly joins forces with three other well respected guitarists for the 2005 release of G-Fire II. Founder member Neilly joins with guitarists Mark Whitfield, Kevin Chokan and Miguel Mega on this impressive CD of bluesy and rockin’ smooth jazz and fusion music. Having worked with top artists like Herbie Hancock, George Benson and George Duke—Neilly, Whitfield and company heat things up nicely on their album of exciting, entertaining sounds.

CAR-TUNES MUSIC - The best instrumental guitar music has a great beat, impressive musicianship and a hook you could hang your hat on. Those three elements are clearly in abundance on the 2004 self-produced CD release from West Virginia guitarist Charlie Read. Solid support from players including his sons Matt Read (rhythm guitar) and Isaac Read (drums) helps the guitarist realize his musical mission. A master of the rock, jazz and blues instrumental guitar sound, Read has also developed a fine reputation for his guitar teaching abilities and his fine CD will entice guitar fans to ‘read between the lines.’ Commenting on his guitar background Read adds, "Like many guitarists, I spent most of my teens and early twenties with an instrument in my hand as often as possible. Before the days of CDs and instructional videos, I ruined most of my vinyl albums by trying to figure out licks while slowing the LPs down to 16 rpm on a turntable. However, this tedious process helped me in the long run to develop a keen ear which has certainly come in handy though the years, and perhaps especially in my current role as a guitar instructor.” Read also spoke about his numerous musical influences adding, “OK, let me show my age. The Beatles' famed Ed Sullivan appearance blew my mind and changed the course of my life, as I dusted off my sister's Silvertone acoustic and laboriously started learning some chords. In those days the sheet music wasn't worth the paper it was printed on (at least for guitar players), but I learned enough chords to master some of my favorite tunes by Dylan and The Byrds, and picked out the Ventures “Walk Don't Run” by ear. I remember the day I came home from school, turned on the radio, and heard a song that stopped me in my tracks. It was 'Hey Joe' by Jimi Hendrix, and I realized rock guitar would never be the same. Of course, all the styles of the greats were absorbed by my insatiable musical curiosity, as my practice time increased to 4 to 7 hours a day. Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Michael Bloomfield, Carlos Santana - visionaries and influences every one. Then there were Terry Kath (Chicago), Leslie West, Joe Satriani. Like the old saying "You are what you eat" the same holds true for the music we take in. It becomes part of our nature, our mode of expression. When we play, glimpses of that input manifest themselves just as we reflect the personalities of our parents as we age. I think my style is my own, and cannot be compared exactly to anyone else. But, no man is an island - and everything I am as a guitarist is a result not only of my own personal 'woodshedding time' but the awesome talents of those who have gone before and left a lasting legacy of beautiful guitar music that will go on and on."

CASTLE / SANCTUARY - There is no better way to learn guitar than through the instructional books from acoustic guitar legend Stefan Grossman. Humorously calling himself The Ragtime Cowboy Jew, Grossman’s instructional books and now DVDs are legendary, although as a recording artist Grossman cuts equally a dazzling figure. His ‘70s works—deftly mixing both instrumentals and vocals—on the U.K.-based Transatlantic label is given a fresh look with the release of a double disc set entitled Those Pleasant Days: The Transatlantic Anthology. Busting out of the blues mold, Grossman incorporates a number of valid acoustic guitar forms here including ragtime, classical and trad jazz. His clarity of picking is almost routinely dazzling and drawing from eight different albums, the 44 track double disc set is a great introduction to a guitar legend.

CHICKADEE MUSIC - In spite of the album being called Poor Player, Seattle guitarist Mortimer Nelson is anything but that! A stellar sounding mix of acoustic jazz with classical guitar overtones (and hints of Ragtime too), Poor Player is a crisply recorded set of compelling acoustic instrumentals with Nelson’s Taylor guitar ringing out loud and clear. Nelson is more Stefan Grossman or John Renbourn than Leo Kottke, yet the 15 track all original set maintains an atmospheric, experimental edge while seducing listeners with it’s sumptuous sound stage. Regarding the CD title Nelson adds, “it's intimidating and maybe a little presumptuous to be playing on the same field as the great guitarists, even if you're not in the same league. I've always loved music, or the idea, or feelings of the music, more than the guitar per se, but the guitar just seems to come closer to the sound of that 'inner music' than any other sound for me.” The occasional addition of Riki Tesea on Casio SK1 synth adds some nice edges, and guitar buffs won’t fail to be impressed by Nelson’s meticulous command of the acoustic guitar fretboard. Nelson’s melodic fretboard work is most convincing on the set-closing 11+ minute track “Tidepools.”

- One of the great Top 40 pop bands of the ‘60s, Gary Puckett & The Union are given a respectable 14 track best of compilation on Columbia Legacy, the original home of their great music. Breaking out with their August ‘67 smash “Woman, Woman”, the band went on to sell 20 million records by 1970, racking up five Top ten hits. The group’s calling card had them dressing up as Union soldiers from the Civil War and however corny it was, it worked with their first 45 rpm going into the Top five. The liner notes and photos featured in the 2004 reissue CD supplies an excellent historic backdrop as does their timeless, made for AM radio music which still holds up well over 35 years after Puckett recorded his last music for Columbia Records.

- San Francisco-based Chronicle issued an amazing book version of the Beatles famous Anthology series. The final word on the the illustrious Fab Four history, The Beatles Anthology, expresses in the group’s own words, the power and the glory they brought to the music world of the ‘60s and beyond. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr agreed to tell their story for the book, and—compiled from world wide sources—the words of Beatles founder John Lennon are equally represented here. Featuring the classic cover artwork of Klaus Voorman, this 368 page Apple sanctioned soft cover edition also features key contributions from Beatles cohorts including Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall and producer George Martin. Another key Beatles-related book on Chronicle is Each One Believing: Paul McCartney On Stage, Off Stage And Backstage. Conceptualized by McCartney during his worldwide 2002/2003 tour, the 208 page hard cover book compiles a stunning range of color and B&W photos taken by Bill Bernstein at concerts in NYC, Rome’s Colosseum and Moscow’s Red Square. Also of interest on Chronicle is a 2002 soft cover edition of Temples Of Sound: Inside The Great Recording Studios. Written by Jim Cogan and William Clark—with a forward by Quincy Jones—the 224 soft cover book details the unique history of fifteen of the great American recording studios. Taking readers into the workings of Capitol studios, Sunset Sound and United Western in L.A. to Stax and Sun Studios in Memphis to Motown, Sigma Sound in Philly and Atlantic in NYC, Temples Of Sound provides a unique history lesson into how recording studios and the engineers working the boards were almost as equally important as the music they helped immortalize.

- Cincinnati-based guitarist George Cunningham teams with producer and drumming ace from The Bears Chris Arduser on his latest CD Stumblingham. Subtitled An American Album of Unfamiliar Music, the mostly guitar-based instrumental album lands on a number of instro genres blending surf, Latin, Celtic, Middle Easter, solo acoustic fingerstyle guitar, ‘30s jazz and cartoon music. According to Cunningham, “I decided that making this record would be a good idea when I realized that, at some point, Mariah Carey had managed to ruin all vocal music for me.” Stumblingham is a fine showcase for Cunningham’s cunning guitar moves, while the album further benefits thanks to Arduser’s production, songwriting and added talents on drums, bass, acoustic guitar and mandolin.

- Offbeat, heady stuff firmly entrenched in the realm of funky fusion, the Yo Miles! release of Upriver is the latest effort from guitar maestro Henry Kaiser and electric / acoustic trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Paired with top players like Michael Manring (bass), Steve Smith (drums) and guitarists Mike Keneally, Chris Muir and Dave Creamer, Kaiser and Co. burn their way through a number of classics long associated with jazz icon Miles Davis. Recorded live in the studio, Davis classics like “Go Ahead John”, “On The Corner Jam” and “Bitches Brew” are given a new lease on life, while the 2005 hybrid, double CD / SACD set also features an original Smith composition and a group improvisation called “Macero.” Formed in San Francisco in 1998 as a tribute to the mid ‘70s Miles, the first ‘90s Yo Miles! lineup featured a number of players including guitarists Nels Cline and Elliot Sharp and with Upriver, Kaiser & Co. continue to explore and redefine the fiery electronic jazzy-funky groove that Davis brought to the world of contemporary jazz and fusion improvisation. A wild sonic ride that stretches the borders of modern music, Upriver is a solid tribute to his dark, electrifying musical mystique. Yo Miles! reestablishes Kaiser—best known for his avant gard works with Jerry Garcia, David Lindley and Fred Frith among the most daring and creative guitarists currently recorded today .

- Among the new releases on Digital Musicworks International is a 2004 CD from guitar maven Lino. A great album demonstrating Lino’s excellent performance on Yamaha’s SLG Silent classical and steel string guitars, Return To Avalon is an amazing mix of Baroque classical, smooth jazz, instrumental rock and New Age into one appealing package. Evoking images of John Williams during his neoclassical rock years with Aussie instro rockers Sky, Lino demonstrates inherits that throne with his own brand of modern classical guitar performance. Supplying keen melodies and near classical style touches on both electrified classical and steel string guitars, Lino’s merger of various is wonderful and will be a treat for instro guitar buffs and the elite classical crowd looking for a great album to rock out. A set-closing cover of “You Belong To Me” oozes sentiment from Lino’s guitar.

- An album with a "guitaristic" name if there was one, Semi Hollow Body introduces the music of guitarist Tim Jenkins and the group Delirious Tremor. Assisted by David Sheets (bass) and David Huether (drums), Jenkins has written some intriguing instrumental music for the group’s third album, combining upbeat and jazzy guitar music with a subtle progressive twist. A complex trio album with abundant improvisation, Delirious Tremor set their group apart adding elements of rock, folk and modern classical into their framework while the group’s mastery of tricky time signatures enhance the swing and groove direction of the CD.

- Experimental guitar music with just the right combination of melodic ideas and atmospheric vibe, Guitar Island was released by the Georgia-based Perkins Wood in 2004. Described as A psychedelic symphony for modern man, the DIY album features the guitar team of Jeff Perkins and Ann Wood. Although the two are clearly influenced by all realms of post-punk guitar including surf, metal and jazz, they eschew the obvious, preferring a unique post modern kitchen sink approach to instrumental rock that works more often then not.

- Featuring the sublime songs and vocals of the alluring Andriette Redmann, the 2004 CD from NYC-based Sun Palace takes the cutting edge sound of pop artists like Sarah McLachlan and Bjork one step further. Supplying backing support to Redmann’s lush melodies and multi-layered vocal harmonies on Give Me A Perfect World are key players such as guitarists John Rokosny and co-producer Tony Geballe in addition to Jerry Marotta (drums) and Pat DiNizio (backing vocals). Modern pop-based chill music that just oozes with atmospherics, the eleven track CD is capped off by a faithful Sun Palace cover of the Led Zep classic “Going To California.”

- Eagle Rock continues their DVD wave of releases in 2004 with a series of live concerts recorded at Europe’s fabled Montreux Jazz Festival. Kicking things off is Gary Moore & The Midnight Blues Band - Live At Montreux 1990. Filmed on July 7th, 1990, the DVD finds blues rock guitar great Moore blowing away the crowd with added support from Don Airey (keyboards), Andy Pyle (bass) and Graham Walker (drums). Also guesting on three tracks is blues rock icon Albert Collins. Featuring a detailed booklet, the DVD also features three tracks from Moore’s 1997 Montreux appearance. Another choice Montreux DVD from Eagle, Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live At Montreux captures the legendary prog-rock trio in fine form live in concert on July 7th, 1997. A definite comeback show for ELP, the DVD features a cross section of their best including “Knife Edge”, “Hoedown” and “Tarkus / Pictures At An Exhibition.” Described by drummer Carl Palmer as, “one of the great concerts by ELP”, the 14 track, 84 minute DVD features in depth liner notes written in 2004 by Greg Lake, Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer. Also out on Eagle, Al Di Meola: Live At Montreux captures the legendary jazz-rock guitar ace at two different Montreux performances. Di Meola’s 1986 Montreux set found him performing acoustic tracks, some of which he first recorded with John McLaughlin and Paco De Lucia back in 1983, while his 1993 Montreux set found Di Meola performing with his trio World Sinfonia. Highlights of the 1993 show includes live reworkings of the Return To Forever classic “No Mystery” and “Tango Suite”, written by Astor Piazzolla. As part of this series, Eagle Rock have also released, Curtis Mayfield: Live At Montreux 1987, Earth, Wind & Fire: Live At Montreux 1997/1998, Marvin Gaye: Live At Montreux 1980 (on DVD and CD) and Charles Mingus Quintet: Live At Montreux 1975. Each Montreux DVD on Eagle features great audio and video quality remastered in 5.1 surround sound and DTS audio while detailed booklets reveal the rich history connecting each artist with Montreux.

- Few labels have the breadth of artists that EMI does. The combination of artists on both EMI in England and Capitol Records in the USA is almost staggering and in late 2004 EMI in England released a various artists compilation entitled Scorched Earth: Rock Grooves 1969-1975. A wide cross-section of both EMI and Capitol artists are featured here proving the US / UK rock axis during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s was truly a once in a lifetime event. Artists on the interestingly titled Scorched Earth include Harvey Mandel, Terry Reid, Hank B. Marvin, Ike & Tina Turner, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Ashton Gardner & Dyke and, of all things, Japan’s The Sadistic Mika Band with an amazing track called “Silver Child”. Scorched Earth is one heckuva strange ride indeed.
Also on EMI, a 2004 four CD box from ‘60s pop icon Sandie Shaw - Nothing Comes Easy chronicles the musical history of one of England’s great pop singers. Although she never hit it big in the U.S., Shaw gave the best female singers like Petula Clark some fierce competition back in the ‘60s, yet unlike many of her contemporaries, Shaw also made a fine comeback in the ‘80s with the assistance of Smiths mainman Morrissey, who also wrote some tracks from her great ‘86 comeback album Hello Angel. Much more Chrissie Hynde than Petula Clark, her rock side really comes alive on that classic album. Even more interesting to note that Chris Andrews—who wrote so many of her early hits—reunited with Shaw for her ‘86 album, although sadly it remains her last recorded work to date. Shining a light on one the best female singers from the swinging mod boom of England in the mid ‘60s, EMI adds in a 64 page booklet with all sorts of amazing data and photos from one of the true heroines of the British pop scene.

-World beat music meets NYC / LA style jazz is at the root of Snake Charmer, the 2005 album from guitarist Rez Abbasi. One of the best examples yet of how to merge the inspiring ambience of Indian music—sitar-guitar, tabla and all—with jazzy improvisational jazz inspired by icons like Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin & Shakti, the eight track, 56 minute CD pairs the L.A.-based guitarist with top players like Gary Versace (organ), Danny Weise (drums, tabla) topped off by the hypnotic vocals and tanpura of Kiran Ahluwalia. Part jazz, part Indian raga, Snake Charmer is a real gas and really breaks new ground with a pan-global jazz fusion vision. Relating background on his ability on electric sitar-guitar Rez adds, “The use of the sitar guitar is mostly for coloristic purposes although it invariably plays a role in the exposure of a cultural sentiment that I’ve grown up with. The sympathetic strings also create more textural opportunities.” Liner notes by Bill Milkowski sheds light on Abassi’s intriguing East meets West approach to modern jazz.

- From the label that brought you last years pop psych classics from Silver Sunshine and more comes a 2005 seven song CD release from pop trendsetter Eric Matthews. Entitled Six Kinds Of Passion Looking For An Exit, the CD demonstrates Matthews’ unique pop-rock sensibilities on various fretted and keyboards instruments as well as trumpet. A ‘60s McCartney / Bacharach kind of vibe permeates and the lead off track “Worthy” sets an even keel. As proven by his various CD releases over the past ten years, Matthews has a unique background in the pop field and he sets the pace once again with this seven track set on the aspiring Empryrean imprint.

- An essential jazz CD reissue, Feeling Blue by The Phil Upchurch Guitar Sound features veteran blues-rock bass and guitar great backed by a couple different band lineup including greats like bassist Chuck Rainey and drummer Bernard Purdie. Produced by Orrin Keepnews and first released on Milestone back in late 1967, the album was a real instrumental guitar sleeper in the spirit of A&M-era works of Wes Montgomery and A.C. Jobim. Featuring orchestra, trumpets, celeste, electric bass, the album is a great display both of Phil’s electric guitar prowess but also his choice of material is stellar including instrumental guitar covers of classics like “Corcovado”, “Tangerine” as well as a groovin’ ‘60s Wes style instro of “Up, Up And Away.” The CD features great notes and discography information.

- Spanning classic Yes-style (Wakeman / Howe) prog instrumentals to jazzy, funkier fusion grooves and easy on the ears acoustic guitar, Charles Brown is proving to be a veritable master of the guitar trade. On his recent 2005 CD, Cry Of The Northern Wind, Brown puts his craft to the test and comes up a winner. With help from like minded cohorts including the fine drumming of Mr. X, Brown rises the the occasion with solid performances on guitar synth, Les Paul and Fender Strat. Whether playing classical and acoustic steel or cranking his Roland through a Marshall, Brown never comes up short of crafty musical maneuvers on Cry Of The Northern Wind.

-L.A. based Fuel 2000 did great things with their Jethro Tull releases and now they do the right thing reissuing various titles from former Police guitar ace Andy Summers including a compilation CD entitled The X Tracks: The Best Of Andy Summers. Following his Police years, Summers built a sizable solo career starting by the ‘80s, releasing a number of titles built around his formidable New Age / Fusion guitar sound. A compilation of four different Summers albums, The X Tracks collects a dozen of his best jazziest instrumental guitar tracks. According to Summers, “This CD is a selection of tracks recorded between 1997 and 2002. Already in 2004 they appear to me like fading photographs, memories, associations with people, time and place.” At his best, Summers is a master of the Jazz-Rock fusion sound and his guitar playing reaches new heights on this essential collection of his recent work. Mostly instrumental, The X Tracks also features guest spots from Sting, singer Debbie Harry and rapper Q-Tip, the CD features reflective liner notes from Summers.

- The guitar has been his constant companion throughout his life and Connecticut guitarist Glenn Roth takes his dream one step further with the 2005 CD release of Innovations. Influenced by everyone from Van Halen to Tommy Emmanuel and Preston Reid, Roth laid down his electric guitar in favor of his love of acoustic finger style guitar. There’s a strong air of originality running throughout Innovations and Roth tempers his genre-blending mixture of rock, blues, classical, jazz and bluegrass with some masterful guitar-tapping and other effects. The CD is expertly recorded and fans of acoustic masters like Fahey and Kottke will find much to appreciate here. Interestingly, Roth was chosen by the MUNY Program (Musicians Under New York) and you can currently see and hear him performing in the subways under Grand Central & Penn Stations and Rockefeller Center.

- Guitarist Pete Prown was influenced early on by fusion players such as John McLaughlin and Steve Howe. On his latest effort with Guitar Garden, Prown’s guitar work blends a variety of Asian music motifs within the context of hip-hop grooves and ethnic beats. With titles like “Erhu” and “Ashes Of The Pagoda”, the sound of China Rose moves traditional Asian music melodies into the world of easy on the ears jazz-rock with excellent results. Eschewing daredevil guitar pyrotechnics in favor of a soulful, tastefully played ambient world beat guitar groove, Prown and company puts an intriguing new spin on the wide ranging possibilities of Asian fusion music.

- Making inroads since their 2000 CD debut God Has Failed, German prog-rockers RPWL have recorded their finest album yet with the 2005 release of World Through My Eyes. On their latest for Inside Out Music, the quartet are assisted by fine players including singer Ray Wilson and there’s plenty of high quality of progressive sounds running through the entire album. With their trippy keyboards, sonic guitar sounds and a singer, called Yogi Lang, that evokes The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone, much has been made of the band’s influences. Suffice to say, if you enjoy Pink Floyd circa Meddle—RPWL have contributed to several Floyd tributes—you’ll probably catch a cosmic buzz off of World Through My Eyes.

- The whole lounge and exotica movement of the mid ‘90s gave way to a number of retro-flavored musical trends. Influenced by the organ-based sound of Booker T. & The MGs and swinging the ‘60s, Italy’s great instrumental rock group The Link Quartet inject great style and panache into the musical mix on their 2004 CD Italian Playboys. A stellar tribute to the ‘60s Stax R&B and Hammond organ sound crafted by Booker T. Jones and guitarist Steve Cropper, The Link Quartet bridge musical generations with their magnificent Italian Playboys CD. With a modern yet retro sound, the band—including keyboardist Paolo “Apollo” Negri and guitarist Giulio “Link” Cardini—hits hard and fast. Overall, the CD is a fine spin for fans of ‘60s soundtracks and the funkadelic soul revolution of the mid ‘70s, and there’s even a cool Booker T. inspired cover of the The Beatles classic “Glass Onion”. /

- A journeyman guitarist who earned his stellar reputation working for rock music legends like Buddy Miles and Greg Rolie, L.A. based Greg V. demonstrates his articulate guitar skills on his solo debut. The twelve track Tailgate Troubadour is the perfect setting to convey his formidable skills on electric, acoustic, lap steel, baritone, dobro and mando guitars plugged into vintage amps. In this all instrumental setting, V. lets his notes speak for their group. Filled with irony and emotion, his songs are completely convincing and effective. One minute you can hear a Clapton flavored track, then a Neil Young / Crazy Horse effect and it’s on to the swing surf sound of ‘60s West Coast instrumentals. The CD features fine support from Kevin McCormick (bass) and Jim Christie (drums) while the sound quality also benefits from the clear as a bell studio mix from fellow guitarist Mark Goldenberg.

- No less a musical icon than Frank Sinatra Jr. wrote some key liner notes for this 2004 CD release from California-based jazz guitar ace Jim Fox. Describing the recently released Sunburst, Sinatra adds, ‘If you find yourself in a quiet mood and a relaxing place, put this album on and rejoice in the hands of a true musician.” For fans of traditional jazz guitar sounds, it doesn’t get any better than the solo jazz guitar sounds on Sunburst. Aficionados know these songs inside out and fittingly, Fox does justice to standards such as “Cry Me A River”, “How Long Has This Been Going On?”, “Come Rain Or Come Shine” and nine other unforgettable song classics. Sinatra’s notes adds a nice touch to what’s sure to become a modern jazz guitar classic.

- Right up there with Lola Vs Powerman And The Money Go Round and Think Visual as the most sumptuously recorded Kinks album ever, the 1977 album from the Kinks, Sleepwalker was reissued once again by Koch, this time as a dual layer SACD / stereo CD. No complaints here—if you pick up one Kinks SACD remaster, make it this one. Interestingly, also in early 2005 Koch released an SACD remaster of Soap Opera, the 1975 album that sealed the deal on the Kinks being the leading advocates of rock theater. Way back then, the Kinks would stage these amazing stage productions, best reflected in their classic ‘70s albums for RCA Records. Perhaps the greatest example of their mid ‘70s theatrical years was Soap Opera. In rare form, Kinks mainman Ray Davies, penned a number of classics including the Soap Opera single, “Holiday Romance”—a “Winchester Cathedral” for the ‘70s! Like Sleepwalker, the 2005 SACD remaster of Soap Opera comes features fine digi-pak design, detailed booklets with notes and lyrics and a range of bonus tracks. Other recent Kinks related reissues on Koch include, Return To Waterloo—Ray’s 1985 solo album first issued on Arista—and two from brother Dave DaviesAFL1-3603, a 1980 release and Glamour from 1981. All three feature original artwork and lyrics, no liner notes and that FBI sticker on both the tray card and the CD, so you better watch out!

- A fine solo jazz guitar CD performed on a range of vintage guitars, Bar Pickups & Flatwound Strings introduces the sound of California-based guitarist Phil Emerson. The jazz icons Emerson covers on his 14 track 2004 CD include Lester Young, the Gershwin brothers, Keith Jarrett and Duke Ellington, topped off by a “Salute To Barney Kessel” performed by Emerson on a King M5 and a 1932 Martin C3. A well played and chosen selection of songs classics and originals, Bar Pickups & Flatwound Strings is a splendid choice for jazz guitar buffs. Emerson goes into detail on each track here on his web site.

- Well schooled in a variety of musical styles—from progressive rock in the ‘80s to art rock and fusion in the ‘90s to a more traditional and avant garde sound in the new millennium, Krispen Hartung released a great album of new music in 2004 entitled Places. Implementing acoustic guitar within the realm of real time looping, Hartung’s improvisational, free-style avant garde ambient instrumental music sound comes to life with mixing spontaneous composition with attention to atmosphere and melody. Hartung cites influences like Frisell, Rypdal and Fripp and in that regard he breaks new musical ground with Places. Also worth checking out is Hartung’s experimental DVD entitled Microscopic Horrors, featuring excerpts of his CD accompanied by live video of microscopic organisms.

- Hailing from Parma, Italy guitarist Lelio Padovani recently released his latest CD entitled Unknown Evolution. Ranging from progressive instrumental to more of a rock / fusion sound, Padovani is on to some cool sounds here. Assisted by a tight rhythm section, the CD is very atmospheric. Padovani will appeal to fans of finely played rock instrumentals that echoes some of his influences including guitarists John Petrucci, Stef Burns and Jennifer Batten.

- Recorded live at Club Cafe in Pittsburgh sometime in 2002, The Bears - Live At Club Cafe is a great live DVD from one of America’s best kept pop secrets. Of course everyone knows that Bears guitarist Adrian Belew also serves as a member of prog-rock icons King Crimson, but in context of The Bears, he gets to wear his pop influences on his sleeve. The band’s 2002 CD, Car Caught Fire is well represented on the 20 track concert DVD, which is further fleshed out with bonus interview footage and a video tour of Belew’s home studio. Belew shines on guitar and vocals and is ably assisted throughout by Bears band mates Rob Fetters (guitar, vocals), Chris Arduser (drums, vocals, mandolin) and Bob Nyswonger (bass). Performing before a packed house of long time fans who keenly recall the group’s early albums, The Bears overpower the crowd with a action-packed set of superbly executed power pop gems. /

- In the spirit of guitar greats like Leo Kottke and Chet Atkins, Minnesota guitarist Michael Young lets his fingers do the talking on his debut CD I Listen To My Feet. According to the guitarist, “If my feet start tapping, then my guitar is saying something I should pay attention to. So this recording is really just a measure of my listening skills.” Mixing standard and alternate tunings as well as slide guitar into his six and twelve string acoustic playing, Young never comes up short of interesting guitar ideas. Like Kottke, Young also injects a dose of humor into his instrumental guitar music and on a couple tracks he’s joined by several players including Dave Berg (upright bass), Gabriela Sweet (bottleneck slide) and Ryan Parsons (percussion). Young shines throughout I Listen To My Feet and clearly gets a great sound from his 6 string RainSong guitar and 12 string Taylor guitar.

- The recorded repertoire Roy Orbison on Monument Records during the early ‘60s provides a veritable encyclopedia of musical knowledge and styles that have been reworked and rewritten by countless artists, yet they’ve never been bettered. In fact, many rock fans who came by the ‘Orb through his late ‘80s work with George Harrison and Traveling Wilbury’s would have to agree by now that Harrison really patterned the Wilburys blueprint with songs like “In Dreams”, “Love Hurts”, “Blue Bayou” and “Borne On The Wind” in mind. Orbison’s symphonic pop songs were huge influences on The Beatles and ELO. The 2004 Monument / Legacy release of Rob Orbison Love Songs strikes a timeless nerve and although it’s called Love Songs, these songs transcend mere adolescent emotion and truly define the essence of musical destiny. Decent liner notes are here along with strange cover art but the kicker is a booklet with a complete list of all the players Orbison employed—his list of guitarists is quite impressive including Harold Bradley (who played on many of these classics including “Only The Lonely”), Hank Garland, Ray Edenton, Joseph Tanner, Scotty Moore and so many others it reads like a veritable history lesson! Among the rarities on the 14 track CD is Roy’s cool January ‘63 cover of the Everly Brothers classic “All I Have To Do Is Dream.”

- An album of multi-layered electric guitars sounding greatly influenced by the ground breaking, instrumental New Age / electronic guitar sound of Mike Oldfield and Michael Rother, Vigilant State is the third CD from Synchrony, featuring Long Island-based guitarist Joseph T. Lor. A noted performer, arranger and composer, Lor is clearly in his element on the third Synchrony CD, writing, recording and playing all the instruments on his 11 track symphonic rock masterpiece. According to Lor, My newest CD Vigilant State holds many great moments for me as an artist. When I was putting this CD together my life was both hi and low. The guitar is the extension of my spirit it reflects my most inner feelings with out thought my fingers travel to the notes that are needed for that song. When this happens there is magic I am an artist for that moment in time. The songs took me to that magic spot light many times a place inside myself when the guitar just sings out with energy.” Enhanced by some impressive studio wizardry, Vigilant State takes Lor’s instrumental orchestral rock vision to new heights. The cover art features a blissed out Lor while the CD booklet further depicts the music with track by track liner notes.

- Back in the ‘70s there were some now legendary bands from Sweden that created fantastic albums combining traditional Swedish folk melodies with Pink Floyd / Grateful Dead style weirdness. In a similar way to that, and also with a nod to last years album from String Cheese Incident, a kindred experimental instrumental sound can be heard on the 2004 CD from the Oregon-based group Grails. With several guitarists in the lineup, including Alex Hall and Zak Riles, the Grails sound fits in with their belief that ‘instrumental music is total music.’ Majestic, haunting, radical are just a few words to describe Red Light. /

- As a member of Brian Wilson’s 2000 touring band, singer-songwriter Scott Bennett has made music history and he furthers that notion with his his 2004 album entitled The Dotted Line. In the spirit of pop wunderkind Jason Falkner and Mr. Wilson himself, Bennett is a gifted guitarist and multi-instrumentalist that does it all on his self-produced CD on Not Lame Records. A few guests appear including Brian Wilson, Jeff Foskett and Nick Walusko, who lend backing vocals on a set closing number penned by Wilson and Bennett called “No Wrong Notes In Heaven.” Rockin’ pop hooks abound on the the ten track set topped off by a rock solid cover of Wilson’s Pet Sounds classic “I Know There’s An Answer.” In the spirit of classic ‘70s albums from McCartney and Emitt Rhodes, Bennett conjures an impressive display of power pop magic on The Dotted Line.
Other end of 2004 titles on Not Lame include a 26 track double CD compilation from ‘90s pop group Wanderlust entitled Lust And Found and a most appealing 21 track tribute CD to ‘70s pop icons The Cars entitled Substitution Mass Confusion. Among the artists contributing covers of Cars classics first made famous in the late ‘70s / ‘80s include Jason Falkner, Owsley, Chris Von Sneidern, Spiraling, Doug Powell and many more. Not Lame continues to amaze with another slate of pop classics for the new millennium.

- Michigan-based Robert Spalding Newcomb is a gifted multi-instrumentalist who not only excels on classical guitar but also demonstrates abilities on amplified guitar, amplified sitar, electronics, voice, keyboards and hammered dulcimer. On his 2004 CD for his Partial Music, Native Planting, Newcomb generates some truly strange and beautiful guitar sounds, performed live in the studio and on stage before an audience. On Native Planting, recorded during 2001-2004 in Ann Arbor, Newcomb conceives an extraordinary mixture of composition and improvisation that encompasses a number of guitar forms including avant garde rock, classical guitar, Indian raga forms, computer generated composition, as well as traditional folk and blues idioms. An intense, yet ultimately rewarding album of often astonishing guitar-based music, Native Planting offers a fitting display of Newcomb’s ingenious musical imagination.

- Is it trance or dance? Rock or New Age? Who cares. Music this good defies stereotypes and lives up to hype. We’re talking about Love Philtre Magick from U.K. guitarist / vocalist Charles Casey and his merry band he calls Akasha. From the great looking CD packaging down to the music, Casey sounds inspired by the dark, cinematic, contorted sounds of U.K. legends like Art Of Noise, Adrian Belew and Fripp’s King Crimson. Although it’s mostly instrumental music, Casey assumes the lead vocal on several tracks that borders on Velvet Underground or even Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas. Love Philtre Magick is modern cosmic music at it’s finest and just might be the future of rock.

- There is perhaps no better or more qualified guitarist around today to serve up a CDs worth of rocking Beatles instrumentals than Colorado-based guitar maven Les Fradkin. After all it was Fradkin who was chosen, back in 1976 out of a pack of 2000 guitarists, to play the George Harrison lead guitarist part in the original Broadway production of Beatlemania. And with good reason. On his 2005 Beatles tribute CD—entitled While My Guitar Only Plays—Les and his band (including Joe Rotondo on drums and Dave Stalheim on bass) offer up fourteen of the best rock instrumental versions of Beatles classics ever recorded. And that’s saying something, because over the years there’s been hundreds of artists—from The Hollyridge Strings to Chet Atkins—who’ve paid their honors to the greatest Fab Four music of the ‘60s. Not only has Fradkin put all the arrangements and guitar parts in the right place, but he’s chosen a collection of songs that, although perfect choices for guitar instrumentals, were sorely overlooked as possible guitar covers in the past, possibly for their sheer complexity and detail of interlocking melodies, guitar voicings, vocal harmonies and arrangements. Highlights on While My Guitar Only Plays include Fradkin-ized covers of “Here Comes The Sun”—including a guest appearance by Ventures guitarist Nokie Edwards—instro covers of “And Your Bird Can Sing”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, a sentimental, mellotron-hued “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and a blistering instro rave-up of “I Saw Her Standing There”. There’s even a sweet, note for note cover of the famous album closing “Golden Slumbers” medley from Abbey Road. A veteran guitarist who’s recorded several outstanding instrumental and vocal albums in the past few years on his RRO Records label, Fradkin—on his Beatles tribute—masterfully blends a variety of vintage Epiphone and Rickenbacker guitars, similar to the ones that The Beatles also used to drive home their timeless song classics. The guitars are all listed in the CD liner notes. In Fab Four fashion, Fradkin also flavors many of the songs with some stellar keyboard, pedal and mellotron effects. Beatles fans who still relish the spirit in which these greatest ‘60s pop classics were first made, owe it to themselves to check out Les Fradkin’s While My Guitar Only Plays.

- Proof that all kinds of great pop comes out of Scandinavia, one of Norway’s best pop bands, The Love Thugs merges a wealth of great music ideas on Babylon Fading. With the spirit of the ‘60s at the center, the band cites both The Doors and Quicksilver as prime ‘60s influences. Track after track, there’s a breezy and eclectic electric psych-pop element in play, sitars and best exemplified by cool cover art.

- Downunder, Aussie label Raven continues to amaze with a look back at some early ‘70s work from rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley. Years after classic hits like “Bo Diddley” (1955) and “Mona”, Bo made a big comeback at John Lennon’s 1969 Live Peace In Toronto festival. Afterwards he released a quartet of albums for Chess Records between ‘70-74, the best of which is recalled on Raven’s 20 track compilation Tales From The Funk Dimension 1970-1973. The famous Bo Diddley beat that inspired everyone from Buddy to the Stones is well in abundance and the CD is a reminder as to where the the whole big beat meets funk and hip-hop groove started. Diddley’s singing and patented guitar playing was always a major influence and on these early ‘70s cuts he his singing and guitar work is both funky and electrifying. The detailed booklet is a history lesson. Other Raven remasters well worth checking out include two on one CDs from Albert Lee - Hiding / Albert Lee (from 1979 and 1982 w/ Buddy Emmons, Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell), Bonnie Bramlett - It’s Time / Lady’s Choice (1974 and 1976 w/ Greg Allman, Dobie Gray, Bobby Whitlock), Isaac Hayes - For The Sake Of Love / Don’t Let Go (1978 / 1979 w/ guitarist Kim Palummu) and Tommy Sands - Man, Like Wow! (a 33 track collection of early rock ‘n’ roll from 1957-1963). Each of these Raven reissues are packed with four color CD booklets loaded with tons of history filled facts, figures and logic.

- Guitarist Rudy Guess was influenced by his early childhood growing up close to the Arizona desert. A fondness for spaghetti western music and the culture and food of neighboring Mexico added fuel to his musical background and guitar style and you can really hear it reflected in his 2004 album El Surfeador. It’s great the way Guess sometimes flavors his Ventures / Duane Eddy style guitar instrumentals with Mariachi style trumpets or the haunting sound of pedal steel guitar. Recording in L.A., Guess is ably assisted by The Surf Kings including Nick Vincent (drums), Jack Radavich (bass) and more. Mixing ‘60s guitar instrumentals, Herb Alpert soundtrack sounds and more, El Surfeador is an outstanding album of surf-rock, Southwestern style.

- When it came to merging ethnic world music and instruments and the sound that came to become known as fusion music, Piirpauke were the originators, at least from their home country of Finland and probably much of Scandinavia and beyond. A glimpse of their very first era from the mid ‘70s on Love is combined with the group’s present 2000's recordings with Tapio Korjus and his Rockadillo imprint—one of the most progressive music labels in Northern Europe as it stands in 2005. Piirpauke leader Sakari Kukko remains one of the greatest ‘blowers’—as Lars Hollmer would say—and, perfectly casting his renowned abilities on flute, sax and keyboards, is the pivotal player throughout every lineup. Piirpauke were also renowned for enlisting great guitar players and early ‘70s works with guitarist Hasse Walli and later on with Jukka Tolonen, and many other great Finnish ax-men, are now considered classics. Although theoretically, this is the kind of band deserves a four CD retrospective, (especially more geared to their progressive ‘70s and ‘80s albums), the Rockadillo single disc Pauhaat: The Very Best Of Piirpauke is a good intro to one of the most musical progressive world fusion ensembles ever to emerge from Europe.

- A worthwhile album of ‘60s inspired Ventures’ style instrumentals, Beach & Guitar: Surf And Hawaiian Style by guitarist Tim Coffman puts together a set freshly minted 2004 sounds that recaptures the essence of the early ‘60s surf-rock excitement. Recorded in both Hawaii and San Diego, the eleven track CD finds Coffman backed up by great players along with several tracks featuring the authentic surf lead guitar of Belairs founder Paul Johnson and Hawaiian steel guitarist Greg Sardinha. Coffman seals the deal on a fine guitar set that blends upbeat surf and Island music, cool jazz, Flamenco, Roots Rock and modern loops to create a new wave of Beach Music.

- Although in the years before all things must pass away, George Harrison aptly pointed out, ‘There’ll be no Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead’, he said nothing I believe about the scads of Beatles tribute bands and if he was here today, old Georgie would no doubt get a real buzz off of a 2004 double CD set from 1964 called The Tribute: All You Need Is Live. In some respects, the live concert eerily evokes the early Beatles live sound. Playing to a receptive group of kids in Oklahoma, it sounds like Beatlemania is finally reaching the conservative heartland! Joking aside 1964 summon some decent covers of 28 Beatles classics in an amusement park atmosphere including fake screams from excitable teeny boppers getting Fab Four fever all over again! 1964’s web site features a cool quote from George’s sister Louise Harrison.

- Often referred to as one of the architects of 20th Century rock music, the late, great John Entwistle is remembered on a double CD 2005 double CD release on Sanctuary called So, Who’s The Bass Player? The Ox Anthology. Lovingly referred to as the Ox by his bizarre band mates in The Who, Entwistle was truly a peer of Who guitarist Pete Townshend and on his early solo albums on Track, he was simply untouchable. Fittingly the double CD set touches on classics from both Smash Yer Head Against The Wall and Whistle Rhymes. There’s even a few cuts from his rock and roll send up album Rigor Mortis Sets In. Spanning a sporadically sequence of solo album that ends with his 2000 studio CD, Music From Van Pires, live covers of Who classics and King Biscuit live tracks, the CD set on Eagle commemorates what would have been his 60th birthday.

- A French guitar ace who was buddies with Sting and even played in an early version of The Police, Henry Padovani and his group, The Flying Padovani’s are making waves over in Europe with a reissue of his ‘80s instrumental tracks called Font L’enfer. Taking a cue from Link Wray and The Ventures, Padovani and his group combine a range brilliant guitar instrumental ideas laced with a progressive ‘60s vibe. Their instro cover of the Knickerbockers ‘60s rock classic, “Lies” fits right in with Padonvani’s well crafted originals, demonstrating the full musical power of the song. A fabulous guitar legend worth checking out, Padovani is also gearing up for a 2005 album with guest artists Sting, Stewart Copeland, Manu Katché, Steve Hunter from his old gang at I.R.S. Records and more.

- Just about the time that The Shadows released their classic 1982 double Lp Life In The Jungle, the group’s lead guitarist Hank Marvin decided it was time to release a solo album. Conceived as an adjunct to his guitar instrumental work in the Shads, both Words & Music (1982) and All Alone With Friends (1983) were fine albums demonstrating Hank’s guitar and vocals and perhaps more importantly his unique hook-writing ability. The rest of the ‘80s would see Hank completely absorbed in his work with The Shadows, instrumental and vocal, up until their final studio album to date, 1990’s Reflection (Polydor). The best of his two ‘80s albums and his solo work in the ‘90s is given another shot in the arm with the release of a 2004 double CD set on U.K.-based Snapper Music. Aside from the Marvin originals on the two ‘80s solo albums, Snapper’s humorously titled Shadowing The Hits mostly focuses mainly on Hank’s unique ability to make majestic instrumental out of seemingly pedantic hits like “Rocket Man” and “Live And Let Die”. Recorded on various mid ‘90s solo albums for Polydor, these songs are given another look in Hank’s hands. Instrumentals of early ‘60s songs he and the Shads wrote for Cliff Richard, an unjustly quick shot of a few Marvin guitar originals, an appearance by Duane Eddy on “Pipeline”, covers of Dickey Betts’ great Allman Bros. instro “Jessica” and, of course Hank’s great ‘80s vocals on his ‘82/83 albums make it a Shadows-related title worth checking out. Decent liner notes and superb remastering are also in evidence here.

- Arkansas-based composer Jerry Colburn takes listeners on a wild ride with his 2005 CD Smell The Love. Performing 23 songs that clock in at 50 minutes, Colburn cites a number of influences including cartoon music composer Carl Stalling and lounge / exotica king Esquivel and he combines diverse sounds like orchestral strings, banjo blurbs, hip-hop, and even Middle Eastern weirdness. File it under loop-based electronica, but as the CD proves, there ain’t much Colburn can’t do.

- Recorded in 2004, the debut album from Nautilus is a fascinating album of modern 20th century prog-rock. After hearing their CD What Colours the Sky in Your World?, it makes sense that this quartet—featuring guitarist Andy Challinor and drummer Darryl Finch—hail from Canterbury, England as there’s a clear connection between the 2005 Nautilus sound and the heady ‘60s code of groups like Caravan and Soft Machine. A prime example of just how graceful the progressive music genre has aged, the all instrumental CD features stellar performances from all four Nautilus members and their music comes through loud and clear. Clocking in at just under forty minutes, What Colours the Sky in Your World? rocks from start to finish.

- Featuring the songs and vocals of Dan Whitaker, Great Plains Gypsies add in numerous rock styles and often impress with a new hybrid sound on their 2005 CD Stare Into The Sun. One minute there’s a Phil Ochs style folk-rock thing and then the next it’s the Dead circa American Beauty or even a folk-rockin’ version of The Smiths. Teamed with some fine players including guitarists Scott Schenke and George William Norton, Whitaker does his best to sound like a young Phil Ochs or even Arthur Lee. Stare Into The Sun is a fine introduction to a band that’s come far since it’s ‘95 folk-rock debut.

- Called the Spirit album that never was, the band’s 1968 soundtrack to Model Shop was finally released by Sundazed. Around the same era-that produced their all-time classic, Clear, the model shop featured a splendid performance from all five including the late, great guitarist Randy California, his step dad, ace drummer Ed Cassidy and the brilliant, tho' often overlooked keyboards of John Locke. The mainly instrumental nature of the CD reiterates the band’s reputation as a cutting edge band, often, like Hendrix of pushing the boundaries of rock and art-rock fusion music. Once again, Sundazed pulls out the stops adding in essential artwork and definitive liner notes.

/ FANTASY - One of the prime inspirations behind guitar legends such as Leo Kottke and the late, great Michael Hedges, acoustic guitar hero John Fahey is further anthologized with a fifteen track CD on Takoma / Fantasy entitled The Best Of John Fahey Vol. 2 1964-1983. Produced by avant gard guitar hero Henry Kaiser—who also wrote the insightful liner notes—the 2004 CD compiles a number of later period tracks Fahey made for Takoma Records, including rarities and topped off by three tracks from an unreleased album Fahey recorded in 1991, Azalea City Memories. Fantasy has done a great job reissuing the historic Takoma catalog and their volume two best of Fahey supplies several more missing pieces from the genius of the American primitive guitar movement.

- Upbeat, swinging jazz played with tact and precision, Star Hustler is the latest solo CD from Downtown NYC-based Will Sellenraad & Root Down. Also featuring Brian Charette (Hammond C3 organ) and Darren Beckett (drums), the eleven track CD is a great cross-section of ‘loose tight’ improvisational instrumental organ trio jazz in the spirit of guitar legends Grant Green and Wes Montgomery. Having studied with legends like Jim Hall and John Abercrombie, Sellenraad also keeps his guitar sound contemporary, at times adding in a fusion twist reminiscent of Pat Metheny’s jazzier works. A guitarist to keep an eye on, Sellenraad excels on this amiable set of guitar-based jazz.

- Rock guitar great Leslie West made his huge breakthrough back in 1969 with the first Mountain album recorded with late great producer legend Felix Pappalardi. Going on 36 years after Mountain exploded on the scene West returns in early 2005 with Guitarded, his latest CD for U.K. based progressive label, Voiceprint. Embracing the same kick-ass rock stance that brought Mountain untold fame, Guitarded features West in the company of rock royalty including Gregg Allman (keyboards, vocals), Ten Year After bass great Leo Lyons, guitarists Popa Chubby and Joe Bonamassa and Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan. As usual, West surrounds himself with great drummers including long time Mountain thumper Corky Laing, John Entwistle Band’s Steve Luongo and the legendary Aynsley Dunbar. West wrote a number of new tracks for Guitarded and he rounds things out with one of a kind covers of classics including the Mountain classic “Theme For An Imaginary Western”, “Stormy Monday”, the Beatles’ favorite “Old Brown Shoe”, “Goin’ Down” and “Honky Tonk Women.” West may be growing old gracefully as a growling, blues-rock guitar icon, yet he keeps the pot boiling with the humorously titled Guitarded.

- On June 24 and 25, 2004 Sharon Isbin became the first classical guitarist to solo with the New York Philharmonic in 25 years. Following that performance—on June 28-30, 2004—Isbin went into the studio with the NY Philharmonic and conductor Jose Serébrier to record the three guitar concerti featured on her latest album appropriately entitled Sharon Isbin: Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez, Ponce Concierto del Sur, Villa Lobos Concerto For Guitar with the New York Philharmonic. Concerning the music on the CD, Isbin adds, “It’s all Latin-based music, and the pieces represent the guitar in the traditional 20th Century concerto repertoire. It was nice to have had all of this music percolating in my mind over the past 20-plus years before committing it to a recording.” The CD further establishes Ms. Isbin as one of the leading advocates of the classical guitar world. Her 20203 CD—Sharon Isbin Plays Baroque Favorites For Guitar—was hugely popular and interestingly, one of her 2005 projects is an unexpected duet with rock guitar icon Steve Vai to which she adds, “His new piece is a suite that will feature him on electric guitar and me on classical. The new piece will exploit the lyricism of Steve’s writing and my playing and will fuse our styles.” / /

- Recorded way back in 1982, Morning Song Evening Song is a reissue CD of a unique musical meeting between Tim White (sitar / flute) and Jack Gates (guitar). A newly remastered CD of the six selections that were first released on Lp back in 1983, the 2004 reissue of their album adds on three unreleased tracks from the original recording sessions. White and Gates have been playing together since 1975 and their musical telepathy comes through loud and clear on this meditative musical masterpiece. Inspired by Indian classical master Ali Akbar Khan, their mix of sitar and acoustic guitar sounds amazing and the improvisational nature of the recording is a tribute to the duo’s musical mastery. Adding in liner notes and pictures of the pair from 1974 and 1982, Morning Song Evening Song proves the sitar is a universal instrument yet it also begs the question as to why Tim and Jack haven’t recorded together since.

- Berklee grad, bassist / guitarist and composer Yukihide Takiyama (a/k/a) Taki establishes himself as an ace jazz rocker on his 2004 solo CD Three Sides Of My Ego. Born in Osaka, Japan, Taki relocated to L.A. in the late ‘90s and joined Boxing Gandhis on their two Atlantic releases. A wild mix of instrumentals, his ten track solo set mixes in several vocal cuts, but primarily Taki’s instrumental fusion is quite appealing and his song “Gravity” sounds like Alan Holdsworth meets Frank Zappa. Three Sides Of My Ego is adventurous instrumental music skillfully rendered with Taki’s intense and expressive fretboard techniques.

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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