GREAT ALBUMS NO 15 : FRANK ZAPPA - "THE BEST BAND YOU NEVER HEARD IN YOUR LIFE "
Although a recent convert to Frank Zappa, I was introduced to his music in my teens
and had a few albums of his then (including Hot Rats) and like my other favourites ,Todd Rundgren
and Steely Dan, i was amazed by the diversity of styles you could hear on their albums.
Since then i've always been drawn to music artists who can write and perform in
different genres and do it well.
Zappa's music could be funny, self deprecating, serious and mind boggling (sometimes all at the same time!) and although
he was an acquired taste for many, his ability to go where other artists wouldn't dare go, made
him one of the 20th century's greatest composers and musicians in m
Title. Double click me.
My Favourite Guitar Solo -
"Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan
My favourite guitar solo was recorded by Steely Dan in 1976 and
the soloist was top session guitarist Larry Carlton who also helped
the band with Guitar arrangements and charts on their big selling
album "The Royal Scam"
What i love about this solo is the fluidity of Larry's tasteful playing,
the guitar tone and the solo's creativity and construction which
i'm certain was influenced by the overall groove and the chord progression (written by Donald Fagen & Walter Becker)
Larry definitely knows his scales and his inventiveness in putting
the solo melody together for this track is outstanding in my opinion.
Here is a clip of myself playing said solo ( to the best of my ability)
Unsung Guitar Heroes : Todd Rundgren
When Todd Rundgren isn't being a maverick, a genius,
a producer,an innovator or just a brilliant singer/songwriter
he is blowing away his loyal fans (Toddheads) at his solo gigs
or with Ringo Starr as an outstanding guitarist in his own right.
For some reason Todd's name doesn't come up that often in
lists of top guitarists but in my humble opinion he deserves
to be up there with some of the best.
His solos are inventive, exciting and melodic and although
he doesn't quite have the technique of Steve Vai or Joe Satriani his creativity and 100% attitude shines through every time he takes the spotlight.
As Todd is such a versatile artist/performer in so many genres,
he doesnt always play guitar at his gigs but when he does you
can guarantee (like everything he does) he plays from the heart.
Watch Todd soloing on this clip :
Unsung Guitar Heroes : Vince Gill
Vince Gill is not very well known in the UK but is established
in the USA as a top songwriter, singer, producer
and occasional MC for the Nashville Country Awards.
He is also a brilliant guitarist and session musician and has
had a prolific career as a solo artist in the Country Music world
as well as being frontman for legendary Country Rock Band
The Pure Prairie League.
Vince's guitar playing is akin to the likes of James Burton and
Albert Lee as you can see in the video link below, with a clean
tone and that fast country picking style so typical of that genre.
It amazes me that Vince isn't more of an influence on guitarists as
his playing is of the highest calibre but most people would know
him more as a singer/songwriter due to the 20 Grammy awards
he had amassed over the years.
Watch this clip where he plays with James Burton & Albert Lee.
Vince's solo starts around 2 mins 21 sec.
My Review of Larry Carlton Quartet
Darvel Music Festival
June 15th 2015
Well.... what can I say about one of the finest and
most tasteful guitarists on planet Earth?
As I suspected Larry wowed me once again, this time
in the most bizarre setting - a village hall in deepest Ayrshire!
Despite the low key surroundings Mr 335 thrilled a crowd of 200 with
his slick 3 piece backing band (all hailing from Cologne, Germany)
These young amazing players were so good I momentarily forgot I was
there to see one of my favourite guitarists as they handled everything
from funk, jazz, blues, fusion and pop during the set.
I'd have loved to hear something with a Steely Dan connection as
Larry is renowned for his guitar and arranging abilities with
them as well as Donald Fagen's legendary Nightfly album, but was happy
to hear a mix of some of Larry's best material and some of his Crusaders
tracks as well as the Doobie Brothers song Minute By Minute.
Larry used his famous Gibson 335 guitar (hence his nickname Mr 335)
and what a tone he produced in so many styles.
Special mention must go to the local PA hire company who produced
as good a live sound as i've heard anywhere – the sound was perfect.
All in all, well worth the long trip from Aberdeen to Ayrshire,
but I can't help wondering why promoters in the bigger scottish
cities don't take the opportunity to showcase one of the best
session/live guitarists in the world.
Shame on them and kudos to the Darvel Music Festival organisers.
See some videos i took at the gig here:
Tribute to the King Of The Blues : BB King
Like so many music fans, I was sad to hear of the passing of legendary
bluesman BB King recently.
It seems like BB was permanently on tour and that he would
go on forever, but recent ill health had curtailed this.
His world famous single note vibrato on the guitar was his
signature trademark and goes to show that feel and emotion are
just as important as technique or speed.
BB influenced so many guitar players over the years who in turn went
on to influence others with their take on the blues – for example
Jimi Hendrix , Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Larry Carlton and so many more.
I feel lucky to have seen BB and his magnificent band at The Montreux
Jazz Festival in 1999 where he came across as being a great showman
as well as a brilliant guitarist/vocalist.
The guitar world has lost yet another innovator, but his influence on
Blues and popular music will be around forever.
GREAT ALBUMS : FRANK ZAPPA -
"THE BEST BAND YOU NEVER HEARD IN YOUR LIFE "
Although a recent convert to Frank Zappa, I was introduced to his music in my teens
and had a few albums of his then (including Hot Rats) and like my other favourites ,
Todd Rundgren and Steely Dan, i was amazed by the diversity of styles you could hear on their albums. Since then i've always been drawn to music artists who can write and perform in different genres and do it well.
Zappa's music could be funny, self deprecating, serious and mind boggling (sometimes all at the same time!) and although he was an acquired taste for many, his ability to go where other artists wouldn't dare go, made him one of the 20th century's greatest composers and musicians in my opinion. He surrounded himself with the cream of musicians and they in turn contributed greatly to his massive output of work which was sadly ended when Frank died of prostate cancer in 1993. Steve Vai, Vinnie Colauita, Chester Thompson and George Duke were some of the big names who recorded and toured in his bands over the years.
His music lives on through many tribute bands and bands formed by ex Zappa sidemen
as well as Zappa Plays Zappa (fronted by his guitarist son Dweezil) who regularly tour.
From Frank's vast output of albums i've chosen “The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life”- a live double album recorded on tour in 1988 featuring one of his best band line ups. The album is a mix of some of his finest moments including Cosmik Debris, Inca Roads, Let's Move To Cleveland, The Torture Never Stops and an outrageous reggae version of Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven featuring Jimmy Page's original guitar solo played note for note by the brass section!
GREAT GUITARISTS : PAT METHENY
Pat is absolutely one of my favourite guitarists.
Whether he's solo, part of The Pat Metheny Group or any other project, his melodic, tasteful approach to playing always shakes my tree. His solos are often "out there" but always return to a strong memorable melody or hook. He is a true virtuoso, playing fast when he needs to, but also comfortable playing a heartfelt slow melody. If you are not familiar with Pat & his music, he plays a great mix of genres including world music, latin & classical, but his style is deeply rooted in jazz. His influences include artists as diverse as Miles Davis and the Beatles and he has worked with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman & David Bowie. I've been lucky to see him live 3 times and can't wait to catch him and his group again soon.
GREAT ALBUMS : DONALD FAGEN - "THE NIGHTFLY"
One of the first ever fully digital recordings, The Nightfly is surely one of the finest albums ever recorded. If you like thrash metal or indie music this may not be your bag, but it is still one of the best audio recordings ever as well as being a great collection of songs by the vocalist from Steely Dan. From the quirky opener IGY to the jazz swing of Walk Between The Raindrops this album oozes class, top musicians and production of the highest calibre courtesy of producer Gary Katz and engineer Roger Nichols, not forgetting the creative genius of Donald Fagen. The Nightfly is still used as a reference for quality hi fi systems and for concert pa systems and this underlines the sonic quality of one of my favourite albums ever.