Al­bums

A se­lec­tion of new and reis­sued gui­tar re­leases, in­clud­ing Al­bum Of The Month

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Lat­est gui­tar CDs re­viewed and rated.

John McLaugh­lin & The 4th Di­men­sion with Jimmy Herr ing & Th e In­vis­i­ble Wh ip - Live In Sa n Fra ncisco Ab­stract Logic ✪✪✪✪✪

John McLaugh­lin’s Ma­hav­ishnu Or­ches­tra will al­ways have a very spe­cial place in the his­tory of jazz-rock mu­sic and this new re­lease pre­sents eight of the band’s tracks in a spe­cial live set­ting. Recorded at San Fran­cisco’s Warfield The­atre, John McLaugh­lin’s 4th Di­men­sion band and Jimmy Her­ring’s The In­vis­i­ble Whip com­bine in a cel­e­bra­tion to the mu­sic from the early re­leases of Ma­hav­ishnu Or­ches­tra. Iconic ‘hits’ such as Meet­ing Of The Spir­its and The Dance Of Maya are present as are Eter­nity’s Breath. With all tracks clock­ing in at over seven min­utes plus, this is lofty mu­sic for con­cen­trat­ing on with won­der­ful per­for­mances from ev­ery­one. John McLaugh­lin is one of gui­tar’s most revered voices with a vo­cab­u­lary and pick­ing hand that is sim­ply breath­tak­ing but his in­vited guest, Jimmy Her­ring is out­stand­ing too. Com­par­ing the two is in­ter­est­ing; while John goes strato­spheric with long and ex­otic 16th-note im­pro­vi­sa­tions, Jimmy has a mourn­ful bluesy qual­ity that blends well with his blis­ter­ing pick­ing. While it’s hard to pick one track to marvel at, the solo­ing from both on The Dance Of Maya is re­ally quite ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Bert Jan­sch Just A Sim­ple Soul BMG ✪✪✪✪✪

Tagged as the first com­pre­hen­sive Best Of col­lec­tion to span Bert Jan­sch’s five-decade ca­reer there’s plenty of mu­sic here to sat­isfy fans and new ears alike. With 39 tracks spread out over two CDs, the songs have been cho­sen by Jan­sch fan Bernard But­ler (ex Suede) and the Jan­sch es­tate from ‘60s al­bums like The Blue Al­bum and Jack Orion through to his last (23rd) re­lease, 2006’s The Black Swan. In many ways it’s hard to over­state Jan­sch’s place in acous­tic folk mu­sic - some claim he’s the Hen­drix of the acous­tic gui­tar - and his in­flu­ence is in­cred­i­bly wide reach­ing. His abil­ity to weave im­pro­vi­sa­tional pas­sages into his chord pro­gres­sions and

aug­ment his vo­cal melodies with coun­ter­point lines en­dorses the view that he was a deep and very mu­si­cal gui­tarist. To high­light just a few songs of merit is tough but his early Nee­dle Of Death fea­tures won­der­ful chord pick­ing and the dropped tun­ing of Rey­nar­dine is richly sonorous. Mov­ing through to the noughties, The Black Swan shows he still had a huge amount to say and play. In sum­mary, he was noth­ing short of a leg­end!

Ant Law Life I Know Edi­tion Records ✪✪✪✪✪

Af­ter study­ing for a BSc in physics and mu­sic at Ed­in­burgh, mov­ing on to do a se­mes­ter at Berklee, jazzer Ant Law is rapidly es­tab­lish­ing him­self a rep­u­ta­tion as be­ing one of the fore­most jazz play­ers on the cur­rent scene. Hav­ing se­cured him­self a reg­u­lar gig with Tim Gar­land’s band and tour­ing ex­ten­sively, this is his third out­ing as soloist. With an ac­com­pa­ny­ing band com­pris­ing pi­ano, bass, alto sax and drums, Ant man­ages to dis­play both his com­po­si­tional and ar­rang­ing skills through­out. There’s more than a touch of Holdsworth on tracks like Aquil­i­nus and Movies, which con­trast with his beau­ti­ful solo ren­di­tion of Pure Imag­i­na­tion from Willy Wonka.

Van­den­berg’s Moonk­ings Rugged And Un­plugged Mas­cot Records ✪✪✪✪✪

Adrian Van­den­berg is prob­a­bly best known for strut­ting the stage armed with a Les Paul, but here he takes a look back over his ca­reer with an acous­tic in his hand. “For me, the sign of whether a song is good or not is whether it stands up when it’s com­pletely stripped down to the bare essence of it,” he tells us. Recorded in the re­laxed at­mos­phere of his home stu­dio, and with Jan Hov­ing pro­vid­ing vo­cals, Van­den­berg re-ex­am­ines tracks like Whites­nake’s Sail­ing Ships and Moonk­ing’s One Step Be­hind, of­fer­ing a com­pletely new per­spec­tive as he does so. The acous­tic play­ing is im­pec­ca­ble through­out, never more so than on the al­bum’s one orig­i­nal track, the in­stru­men­tal Sundown.

Eric Cl ap­ton Happy Xmas Bush­branch/Surf­dog ✪✪✪✪✪

We’ll ad­mit straight away that when we heard about this al­bum a few months ago, looks were ex­changed here in the of­fice. It seemed a very strange idea, af­ter all: Slow­hand be­comes Snow­hand on this bluesy yule­tide re­lease. But you know what? It kinda works. From the open­ing notes of the first track, White Christ­mas, you see what Clap­ton means when he says, “I had in my head that th­ese hol­i­day songs could be done with a slight blues tinge…” There are some great per­for­mances here, with the orig­i­nal track, For Love On Christ­mas Day an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of EC’s con­tem­po­rary song­writ­ing. For sure, some of the ma­te­rial sleigh-rides ever so slightly to­wards the cheesy, but there’s some great gui­tar play­ing jin­gling along the way, too!

Monte Pittman Be­tween Th e Space/Bet­ter Or Worse Metal Blade Records ✪✪✪✪✪

Monte Pittman is a hard-work­ing mu­si­cian; when not play­ing gui­tar for Madonna (yes, that Madonna), he’s a busy solo artist who’s just re­leased two al­bums at the same time. Be­tween The Space is a metal al­bum of eight tracks and Bet­ter Or Worse is acous­tic based, also of­fer­ing eight tracks. As well as writ­ing all 16 songs, he played all the in­stru­ments too. Be­tween The Space opens with a rag­ing de­tuned rif­fer Ev­i­dence, that blends Me­tal­lica-es­que heavy pro­duc­tion with dashes of the quirky and evok­ing bands like Soundgar­den. Monte is a pre­cise gui­tarist; the riff on Chang­ing Of The Guard fea­tures lots of dou­ble pick­ing (Zakk and Randy spring to mind here) with a great solo sec­tion. For sheer mosh, the ti­tle track is hard to beat. With Bet­ter Or Worse, Monte’s vo­cals are more on the mel­low side with al­most ex­clu­sive acous­tic gui­tar play­ing rang­ing from strum­ming to arpeg­giat­ing. It’s a great, stripped­back pre­sen­ta­tion and about as close to the de­scrip­tion of ‘camp fire songs’ as it gets.

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