We check out some of the latest guitar CDs.
GARY MOORE BLUES AND BEYOND BMG ✪✪ ✪✪ ✪
This new retrospective focuses on Gary’s blues output, highlighting his most emotive work. The standard package is a two-disc (four LP) set featuring 28 post-’90 tracks whereas the deluxe package has an extra two discs featuring an unreleased live concert. The studio recordings represent the cream of Gary’s blues period, beginning with Enough Of The Blues from 2001’s Back To The Blues with classic cuts like Stormy Monday, You Upset Me Baby, I Can’t Quit You Baby and My Baby (She’s So Good To Me). The live stuff will delight completists and die-hards alike as it’s where his fire often burned the brightest. These two discs cover a further 15 tracks from an as yet unspecified performance and it finds Gary in fine form, blasting his way through a veritable ‘best of’ with many of the numbers with which he will always be associated, including Oh Pretty Woman, Still Got The Blues and The Sky Is Crying. It’s incendiary stuff and a fitting tribute to a guitarist who is still missed and mourned by so many.
JASON KUI ABSENCE OF WORDS PROSTHETIC RECORDS ✪✪✪✪ ✪
Jason Kui’s new album features seven tracks crammed with guitar. There are high-power rockers (Polarized), ballads (Morning Breeze), prog metal (Dance Of Awakening) funky jams (Now! You Know!) and blues infused shuffles (Moving On), so plenty of variety. Based in Hong Kong and a busy touring guitarist, Jason has great chops that means he bends strings, alternate picks, legatos and screams with solid control and ability. Opener Polarized is a blend of modern rhythms, upbeat phrases and Shrapnel-esque slippery fretboard manoeuvres. Reactive Impulse’s chorus brims with Major key confidence and blazing harmony runs. With nods to Andy Timmons and Satriani, his Morning Breeze ballad is rousing and emotive with runs evoking these Ibanez virtuosi. For meaty drop-tuned riffing and gritty Minor lines, Dance Of Awakening is prog metal on steroids. For a looser vibe, funky blues guitarist Josh Smith joins in on Now! You Know! for some great trades and licks. Tasty stuff!
CARL VERHEYEN ESSENTIAL BLUES CRANKTON ENTERTAINMENT ✪ ✪ ✪✪ ✪
Verheyen wears many musical hats: session man, Supertramp guitarist, blues performer, music educator and a fan of all guitar styles. He’s released several blues based albums (1999’s Slingshot springs to mind) but none as explicit as this or recorded live in three days! Of the 10 tracks, Carl’s written four, while the others are covers of Freddie King, Peter Green, Ray Charles, etc. Armed mostly with single-coil guitars, fans of Carl will know he has a huge vocabulary and his super chops, tasteful licks and sophisticated chordal approach makes for a rewarding listen. I Take What I Want has a great train shuffle and shows Carl in fine voice with great Strat country blues comping and a stinging solo. Freddie King’s Someday After Awhile is lovely great chord changes, lead licks that emote and nail the changes with aplomb. Jazzy chords and chromatic bass line impress on the re-work of I May Be Wrong, But I Won’t Be Wrong Always/Closing Time Jazz; Carl sure puts a spin on this Ten Years After song (‘A Count Basie thing’ Alvin Lee stated in the late 60s). Perhaps the best known cover here, Oh Well retains much of Fleetwood Mac’s grandeur and space. The guitar licks and organ trade-offs are great! To close, Ray Charles’ Hard Times features a rich Strat, a gorgeous swing pocket and chord voicings at which Carl really excels. Cracking stuff!
SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE CALIFORNISOUL PROVOGUE ✪✪✪✪ ✪
This trio features the funky blues of singer-guitarist Lance Lopez, the low-end chomp of bassist Fabrizio Grossi and the stomp of A-list drummer, Kenny Aronoff. Top it off with some outstanding guest slots and it’s a fun ride. I Am Done Missing You has a big chorus and big reggae-meets-rock groove; Somebody’s Fool has a huge blues stomp, dirty guitar riff, tasty slide licks and a biting Tele solo from Robben Ford. L.O.V.E has a peach of a solo; it’s vibey, big on bends and finished off with a burning descending line. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons is renowned for rocking mid-tempo chuggers, and Broken Heart gets a searing solo from BFG. Elevate has a toe-tapping groove, Hendrix-esque licks and a great Eric Gales wah solo. An ‘Isley Brothers meets Curtis Mayfield’ template makes The One perhaps the most infectious song on the album, while mid-tempo Hard Times sees Steve Lukather flying with bluesy Hendrix bends and whammy bar gargles. Possibly the most biting solo is Walter Trout on What’s Wrong - fantastic! All in all a very uplifting album. Go get!
DAVID GILMOUR LIVE AT POMPEII COLUMBIA ✪✪✪✪ ✪
Pink Floyd’s association with the amphitheatre at Pompeii goes back to 1971 when their performance was famously captured on film to become part of the band’s folklore. In July 2016 David Gilmour took a stellar band back as part of his Rattle That Lock tour, playing two nights at the ancient venue to enthralled fans. It was all about spectacle: lights, lasers, the huge circular screen, pyrotechnics – all adding to the theatre of the occasion. For this release there’s the twin CD pack we’re considering here, plus DVD and Blu-Ray videos and the deluxe box set with an extra 207 minutes of footage on an additional Blu-Ray disc. The latter packages all deliver visual evidence of the atmosphere in the arena, shot at 4k resolution and in quad sound. The CDs, however, consign imagery to the imagination and let the music speak for itself. The set draws heavily on Rattle That Lock, calling on Gilmour’s previous album On An Island for a couple of tracks, the rest composed of classic Waters-era Floyd: The Great Gig In The Sky, Wish You Were Here and One Of These Days as well as cuts from the three-piece studio albums like Sorrow and What Do You Want From Me? The playing is impeccable, with Gilmour’s soaring lines the focus of every song, the set gathering momentum as it races towards the climactic Comfortably Numb. The CD set does an admirable job from an audio point of view, but we would heartily recommend one of the DVD packages in order to witness the full extravaganza.