Sunday, October 2, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 10/04/2011

   Well,I hope you enjoyed last week's  massive outpouring of great new music because this week...has less to offer. It's not entirely dried up like we've seen a few time this year. You'd think with music "industry" getting to be more and more like one big company they could perhaps regulate the good stuff a bit better. There are several more good things coming out in October so stay tuned...

Merle Haggard - Working in Tennessee
   Well,you wouldn't know it if you listen to "country" radio,but Merle Haggard has been quietly making some of the best music of his career for the past ten years or so. The 74 year old Haggard has even beaten lung cancer. If you haven't been paying attention to Merle for awhile (or at all) give 2000's If I Could Only Fly,
featuring the amazing guitar work of Red Volkaert or it's follow up, 2001's Roots Volume 1, with Volkaert AND Lefty Frizzell sideman Norman Stephens. These are both shining examples of what people mean when the talk about "real' country music. His latest,his second for the Vanguard label,features his band The Strangers and superb session guitarist Reggie Young provides some tasty guitar work. Production is handled by Haggard and his long time partner in musical crime, Lou Bradley.
  As usual,it's not just the music that's a bit too "real" for current radio. Haggard has never been afraid to tell it like he sees it and this time around is no different. The song "Too Much Boogie Woogie" lays into the formulaic pop country that pollutes today's airways.His remake of "Workin' Man Blues" features his son Ben along with Willie Nelson,a guy who also knows a thing or two about real country music."What I Hate" allows Haggard some well needed social commentary. If you prefer pop stars in cowboy hats,there's plenty of that around but I'm glad too see there are still some folks around who still hold to apparently outdated ideas like writing songs you actually mean and playing music you love.

This is normally where I say something like "Plenty more Cd reviews below"... I almost don't want you to read it as I have to say unkind things about one of my heroes but if you must know my thoughts on the new George Benson album,read on.

George Benson - Guitar Man
   First,let me preface this by saying George Benson is one of my favorites. His albums of the 1960's and his 70's work for CTI remain some of my most listened to albums. I thinks he is still,currently one of the best guitarists on the planet.This is the album I had assumed would be at the top of this week's "Best Guitar Cds" list...until I listened to it. Announced a few months ago as a return to Bensons jazz days,it was hyped as an album that would remind people of Benson's prodigious guitar chops. The album starts promisingly enough with a great solo version of Tenderly. Suspicions are raised by the next tune,a string laden take on I Want to Hold Your Hand. It's the third song that lets us know things have gone terribly wrong. A vocal take of Stevie Wonder's My Cherie Amour in full on smooth jazz cheese mode has no place on a "guitar" album. The rest of the album is also a tease,with a bit of great guitar followed by some dentist office sound track music. Approach this album with caution. If you're looking for great guitar playing,there's some in there,you just have to dig for it.

Evile - Five Serpent's Teeth
   The more affordable domestic release from one of my favorite new metal bands will be out in the U.S. in a couple of weeks,but if you have to have it now,here's the import version.

Mississippi John Hurt - Discovery: The Rerbirth of Mississippi John Hurt
   While it's "field recording" quality may put off a few listeners,this is truly a discovery indeed.

Mike Ledone - Keep The Faith
  Brilliant organ quartet goes a bit more cerebral than some;less grease and groove,more uptempo and limber soloing. Guitarist Peter Bernstein is,as usual,up to the task.

Gilad Hekselman - Hearts Wide Open
   A newer guitarist on the scene,Hekselman is clearly wanting to sit at the big kids table. Luckily for him (and us),he succeeds nicely! Add another to list of very talented young guys giving Metheney and Scofield some competition.

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