Record Label and Music Spotlight 

December 2002




Steve Howe
on Evangeline Recordings

Willie Porter
on Six Degrees Records

Andrew Mah
on AM Music

Jimi Hendrix
on Experience Hendrix / MCA

The Mar-Keys
on Stax Records

The Four Tops
on Music Video Distributors




BMG HERITAGE - The Sun Records story is all about the music that Sam Phillips made in his modest Memphis studio back in the mid ‘50s. Released by BMG Heritage, Sun Records: The 50th Anniversary Collection pairs 44 vintage rock and roll tracks from early Sun Records signings like Rufus Thomas, James Cotton and Little Milton with Sun’s best known acts including Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Scotty & Bill, Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two, Sonny Burgess, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. Aside from obvious highlights of Sun masterpieces like, “Mystery Train”, “Ooby Dooby” and Carl Perkins’ perennial favorite “Blue Suede Shoes,” perhaps the other amazing thing about this double disc set is that it shines a long overdue spotlight on some amazing Memphis rockabilly stars like Rayburn Anthony and Ernie Chaffin and the other Sun Records talents whose names were eclipsed by the mega names like Presley, Cash and Perkins. A fitting retrospective of perhaps the most important record label in modern American music history, The 50th Anniversary Collection captures the essence of the Sun Records sound, track by track, in words, pictures and music.

CAPITOL RECORDS - One of the best remembered happening of the ‘60s were those James Bond movies. Inspired by British film composer John Barry (who scored eleven Bond films), the Bond movies always featured cool music like “The James Bond Theme” from Dr. No and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” performed by The John Barry Orchestra. In addition to those great instrumental tracks featured on the Bond films, there were always prominent vocal tracks and now Capitol Records has assembled a 22 track mostly vocal track collection of Bond movie classics entitled The Best Of Bond...James Bond. Scattered among well known Bond movie classics such as “Live And Let Die” (the Wings classic from Live And Let Die) and “Thunderball” (from Tom Jones) are more Bond-inspired music from Carly Simon, Duran Duran, A-ha, Sheryl Crow, Tina Turner, Garbage and Moby to name a few. The rock and roll side of that great James Bond movie music comes alive on The Best Of Bond...James Bond.

CLASSIC PICTURES - Legendary Cream bassist Jack Bruce has a 2002 DVD out entitled Jack Bruce And Friends capturing a show from Jack’s famous 1980 tour. Back in 1980 Jack Bruce was on tour everywhere promoting his underrated album I’ve Always Wanted To Do This which found the rock legend in the company of greats such as Clem Clempson (guitar), Billy Cobham (drums) and keyboard/guitarist David Sancious. Recorded live in Germany—with these same legendary, virtuoso players—the 60 minute DVD features 11 tracks including Cream classics “N.S.U.”, “White Room” and “Sunshine Of Your Love” and the great “Theme For An Imaginary Western”. The DVD also includes a biography, discography and photo gallery, and while the sound isn’t state of the art, the video gets high marks overall for it’s rare live live glimpse into the art and craft behind one of rock’s most illustrious music legends.

DG - Acoustic guitar maestro Dominic Gaudious turned quite a few heads with his first two CDs, Acoustic Captivity and The Clearing and he returns in 2002 and even raises the bar a bit with Where I Stand. He’s been called an acoustic guitar genius in the spirit of Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke, and like those two legends Gaudious can amaze just by playing his six and twelve string guitars. Blending in strange sounding instruments like the Didgeridoo, Gaudious tastefully is masterful at merging genres like jazz, flamenco, classical, folk and World Beat. Much like the album’s eye-catching cover art, Where I Stand ranges from pastoral and smooth to a more exotic, energetic sound, although Dominic’s acoustic guitar sound always rings out front and center. Where I Stand is a worthy choice for acoustic guitar fans and New Agers alike, while the creative blend of divergent musical genres makes it a good bet for anyone who enjoys artistic, forward thinking musicianship.

EAGLEVISION - Up and out on in 2002 on Eaglevision DVD is Live Dates 3 - 30th Anniversary Concert from legendary U.K. jazz-blues rockers Wishbone Ash. The group’s 30th Anniversary Concert was recorded live at Shepherds Bush Empire on April 22, 2000. Still rocking nearly 35 years after the group’s breakthrough, guitar icon Andy Powell leads the group through a number of their best tracks in front of a house packed with fans their to celebrate and rock. Demonstrating why Wishbone Ash are still considered one of the architects of the classic early ‘70s British blues-rock sound, Powell gets able assistance by long time WA members Bob Skeat (bass) and Ray Weston (drums). Sharing the twin-lead guitar sound with Powell is Mark Birch. Splitting the vocal chores, Powell and Birch keep the band’s fabled lead guitar sound firmly intact. In 2002 Powell released the latest Wishbone Ash studio album Bona Fide, with maybe the best ever Wishbone line-up yet including guitar ace Ben Granfelt. That said, the band on Live Dates 3 rocks up a storm. The show also features a number of key Wishbone players like back-up vocalist Claire Hamill, one time WA guitar hero Laurie Wisefield, Powell’s son drummer Aynsley Powell and a round of other fine players.

- Two of the best albums ever made by guitar ace Steve Howe were recently reissued after being out of print for far too long by the U.K.-based Evangeline Records under their Acadia subsidiary. Both Turbulence (1991) and The Grand Scheme Of Things (1993) feature some of Howe’s greatest solo recorded works ever. The all instrumental Turbulence remains a rock fusion masterpiece of the highest magnitude thanks to Howe’s dazzling electric guitar interplay with music legends like his one time Yes band mate Bill Bruford and synth keyboardist Billy Currie. As good as Turbulence is, 1993’s The Grand Scheme Of Things might very well be Howe’s best solo album to date. With Bruford out of the picture, the album features Howe’s talented offspring Dylan Howe (drums) and Virgil Howe (keyboards) along with Steve’s one time band mate in the ‘60s psych-pop group Tomorrow, Keith West. In addition to classic Howe rock and solo guitar instrumentals, The Grand Scheme finds Howe inspired enough to assume the lead vocal chores on several key tracks including the title song, one of the great ‘90s protest songs, “Blinded By Science” and the Yes inspired “At The Gates Of The New World”. Proof of Howe’s diversity as a guitar innovator, a master songwriter and a vocalist, The Grand Scheme Of Things was out of print way too long and a big thank you is overdue to Evangeline for making both of these early ‘90s Howe classics—complete with informative booklets and original artwork—available once again.

EXPERIENCE HENDRIX / MCA - Highlighting the August 31, 1970 performance of Jimi Hendrix at the fabled Isle Of Wight festival, Blue Wild Angel was finally made available in 2002 in both DVD and CD formats. For audiophiles who just want the music, the double CD features the entire 18 track performance of Hendrix, Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell, but the complete concert appearance offered on the DVD, is the best bet. The DVD introduces the Hendrix set with an excellent twenty minute rockumentary about the three day festival. Long time Hendrix sound engineer Eddie Kramer has done another brilliant job restoring the audio on both the CD and the DVD. Both the double disc CD and the single disc DVD version of Blue Wild Angel feature colorful artwork and well documented color booklets.

- The UMG-based Hip-O also makes headway on a 2002 best of retrospective from rock legend Mark Bolan & T.Rex entitled 20th Century Boy: The Ultimate Collection. Bolan tragically died in his prime in 1978 but he left behind an enormous repertoire the best of which is culled for
Hip-O’s 23 track T.Rex single CD. Filled with rare b&w and color photos, the 15 page CD booklet is superbly annotated. One look at the detailed credits will find that Bolan recorded his hugely popular ‘70s smashes in the company some great players like Flo & Eddie and King Crimson founder Ian McDonald who played some wailing sax on the Tony Visconti-produced T.Rex masterpiece “Bang A Gong (Get It On)”.
Although she went on to become Paul Simon’s wife, back in the 80s singer-songwriter Edie Brickell took the pop charts by storm with her MTV hit “What I Am” and the group’s ‘88 debut Shooting Rubber Bands At The Stars went double platinum. Hip-O’s 2002 Ultimate Collection CD compilation by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians links together 19 album tracks taken from the group’s two studio albums and while also including some of Edie’s solo material produced by her husband singer-songwriter Paul Simon along with an array of unreleased tracks. Rarities include Brickell’s cover of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (from the 1994 Born On The 4th Of July soundtrack) and “Big Day, Little Boat”, her contribution to George Harrison’s 1990 Nobody’s Child benefit album.
The unsung studio musicians who helped create the fabled ‘60s Motown Records sound are given some long overdue recognition on the recently recorded Standing In The Shadows Of Motown. The soundtrack for a 2002 documentary, the 15 track Hip-O Records CD features the surviving Funk Brothers backing up big name singers on new interpretations of huge Motown smashes like “Heat Wave” (sung here by Joan Osborne), “Cool Jerk” (Bootsy Collins) “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (Ben Harper), and the Smokey Robinson classic “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” (Meshell Ndegeocello). The 20 page CD booklet sheds new light on the story of the Funk Brothers—including guitarists Eddie Willis and Joe Messina—complete with interviews and pictures. /

- Guitar great Steve Hillage got his first taste of international acclaim in the early ‘70s as the guitarist in the group Gong. Nearly 30 years ago after Hillage joined Gong for their Flying Teapot trilogy, he returned in 2002 with the seventh album from his group System 7 appropriately entitled Seventh Wave. Hillage practically invented electric space-rock guitar on his ‘70s Gong albums and on solo masterpieces like Fish Rising and L. For the latest System 7 album on the L.A.-based Hypnotic Recordings, Hillage merges a highly processed guitar sound with driving techno and spacey house grooves and comes up with a sound reminiscent of current bands like Prodigy and Chemical Brothers. Together with his longtime bandmate in Gong, keyboard wiz Miquette Giraudy since the first System 7 album back in 1990, Hillage takes his techno / instro to the next level with ultra cool, ambient chill out sounds of Seventh Wave. /

- An Englishman living downunder in Australia, guitarist Malcolm Battersby has a fine 2002 guitar instrumental CD available. Somewhere between the sonic guitarscapes of Mike Oldfield and the smooth jazz sounds of Lee Ritenour, Battersby takes a solid swing with the all instrumental Shades album. The 46 minute, six track, self-produced CD features several that run over nine minutes. With Malcolm's unique guitar stylings assisted by drummer Cameron Herbert, Shades is pleasurable album filled with cool sounding electric guitar instrumentals.

- Another major rock legend honored with a DVD release on Music Video Distributors is Bill Wyman with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings In Concert. Wyman of course was the bass player in The Rolling Stones during the group’s heyday and on this April 26, 2000 live DVD with his side group—including legends like Procol Harum founder Gary Brooker singer Georgie Fame and guitar icon Albert Lee—Wyman rocks through a number of vintage R&B chestnuts like “Let The Good Times Roll”, “Mystery Train” and “Tear It Up”. In addition, the 60 minute DVD features bonus material and artist biography.
Of all the great Motown ‘60s soul groups, The Four Tops were the kings. Hit after hit, culminating in their classic “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” in 66 earned them the respect of ‘60s music fans everywhere. In early 2002 Music Video Distributors released The Four Tops 40th Anniversary Special on DVD. Filmed in Las Vegas on 8/8/96, the 64 minute set features all their great songs boosted up by solid soul versions of “MacArthur Park”, “Walk Away Renee” “Satisfaction / Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. The 17 track MVD DVD was released following the recent passing of founding Tops member Lawrence Payton. Four Tops front man Levi Stubbs is in fine form on the special and dressed for the occasion in a splashy Vegas nightclub setting, the 'Topsters demonstrates why their were so popular back then.
Another MVD DVD worth checking out is Back To Stax - Memphis Soul, a 2 and a half hour DVD concert filmed in Cannes, France in January, 1990. Among the legends of Stax Records appearing are Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), Eddie Floyd (“Knock On Wood”), guitarist Phil Upchurch and the most famous Stax group ever Booker T. & The M.G.’s who steal the show with revivals of “Hip Hug Her”, “Time Is Tight” and more. Last but not least on MVD is Rod Stewart And Faces: The Final Concert With Keith Richards. Rolling Stones guitarist joins Rod, guitarist Ronnie Wood and the other member of Faces for their last concert together. The 75 minute filmed event features the group and Keith Richards tearing through vintage ‘70s rockers like “Twisting The Night Away”, “You Send Me” and “Sweet Little Rock And Roller”.

ANDREW MAH - Canadian classical guitarist Andrew Mah was born into a family of guitarists (his Father builds guitars). Mah takes his inspiring technique and swift execution to new heights on his self-produced, superbly recorded ten track solo CD Presenting Andrew Mah. Andrew has chosen a noteworthy range of challenging and exhilarating solo classical masterpieces to cover on his CD including venerable compositions by classical guitar icons such as Jorge Morel (1931-), Agustin Barrios Mangore (1885-1944), Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840), Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849), JS Bach (1685-1750), Alonso Mudarra (1510-1580) and John Dowland (1563-1726). As the CD so accurately entails, in Mah’s artistic hands these historic classical guitar gems take on a new life. Mah’s web site offers a detailed bio of all these supremely influential guitar icons and in addition, you can see the guitars Andrew’s dad built for him.

- One of the new breed of Flamenco guitarists, Kent, WA.-based Luigi Marraccini steps in to the forefront with his new self-produced CD Poetry From A Flamenco Guitar. Armed with some mighty compelling fretboard dexterity, Marraccini expertly employs a number of Flamenco guitar moves and his all original track lineup further underscores his love and mastery of Flamenco. Marraccini achieves a truly authentic Spanish Flamenco sound echoed in the exotic Mediterranean melodies and rhythmic patterns of "Malagueña", "Sevillanas" and "Granadinas". A noted expert in the field, Marranccini also has two Flamenco books out including You Can Teach Yourself Flamenco Guitar (1995) and Flamenco Guitar Solos (2002). email:

- Recorded during Spring 2001, Ya’ Know...It’s Go! establishes Philadelphia-based guitarist Matt McCloskey as an upcoming jazz guitar ace. Although he was raised on a musical diet of Rush and Led Zep, McCloskey soon gravitated more to the scintillating jazz guitar sounds of Alan Holdsworth, Scott Henderson and jazz great Wes Montgomery. In addition to the nine McCloskey originals, the guitarist offers a solo guitar version of The Beatles’ classic “In My Life”. Assisted by Micah Jones (upright bass) and Erik Johnson (drums), More be-bop and swing jazz than smooth jazz or jazz-rock, Ya’ Know...It’s Go! is a first class trip to jazz nirvana.

- A lush sounding recording featuring some amazing Flamenco guitar playing, Chiles, is the 2002 CD release from the San Francisco based group Guitarras Y Congas. Led by guitarist Martin Cohen and featuring numerous fine players such as guitarist Gabriel Manzo (and a number of percussionists), the group are sort of like an instrumental sounding Gypsy Kings mixed in with some electric influences such as Carlos Santana. Cohen studied with the best jazz, blues and flamenco players and obviously his love of Flamenco artform is all over Chiles. Cool for jazzers, classical guitar fans and New Agers put off by the intense Flamenco experience will dig Cohen & Company and their Flamenco Rock brew.

- Renowned for his skilled heavy rock shredding, Mass.-based guitarist Sal DiFusco returns in 2002 with his latest album Great Exploits. DiFusco cranks his Fender guitar and Line 6 amp up all the way and with Mike Mangini (drums) and Joe Santerre (bass) delivers a most worthy follow up to his earlier favorite. DiFusco dedicates the album to the people that lost their lives on 9/11/ and performed their heroic acts. Sal keeps the spirit of Vai and Satriani alive here while echoing some of Jeff Beck’s recent work. These tracks soar and sizzle while DiFusco keeps the music levels quite high. email:

SIX DEGREES - In the spirit of folk-rock legends like Richie Havens and John Martin, Willy Porter can cause quite a stir with just his voice and his acoustic guitar. With that as the starting point, the self-titled, colorful Willy Porter album is greatly enhanced by appearances by bass legend Tony Levin, guitarist Emanuel Kiriakou (who also produced the album), drummer Charlie Drayton and even Jethro Tull legend Ian Anderson kicks in support on bamboo flute. Strong lyrics, top-notch singing, songs with memorable pop hooks and a stellar supporting cast makes Willy Porter an album worth taking the time to investigate.

STAX - The Mar-Keys story dates all the way back to the late ‘50s when guitarists Steve Cropper and Charlie Freeman, together with bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn began jamming around the Memphis area. Influenced by black R&B artists like Hank Ballard, The Five Royals and Bill Doggett, the fledgling group changed their name to the Marquis—at the suggestion of their horn player Don Nix—and eventually The Mar-Keys. The story of the early Mar-Keys is captured in the liner notes of their 2002 reissue on Stax Records. Last Night / Do The Pop-Eye pairs the 1961/1962 albums from the Mar-Keys on one 24 track CD. The album features a wide range of cool, upbeat R&B instrumentals that united the talents of Cropper, Dunn and a young organist called Booker T. Jones. These early R&B performances by the Mar-Keys really capture the spirit of early ‘60s R&B sound which in essence paved the way for both Cropper and Booker T. to form the legendary Booker T. & The MGs.

TAKOMA RECORDS - First released on Lp back in 1977, The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977 spotlights the late, great acoustic guitar legend who passed away on 2/22/01. Released on Fahey’s own Takoma Records—started by the guitarist back in 1959—the album depicts Fahey as being among the most influential and gifted acoustic guitarists of the 20th Century. Supporting that claim—in the CD booklet—are a number of guitarists who built their reputation upon Fahey’s massive contributions to acoustic guitar lore. Among the players writing their own Fahey tale are Henry Kaiser (who also produced this CD reissue), Leo Kottke (who worked with Fahey for thirty years), Michael Gulezian (a fine Takoma artist in his own right), Jim O’Rourke and George Winston (New Age piano legend and owner of the Hawaiian slack key guitar label Dancing Cat Records). Words alone can’t adequately describe his talent and Fahey is best represented by the 18 tracks of acoustic guitar magic featured on the CD. At just under 79 minutes and boasting fine new remastering, The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977 remains the definitive single disc John Fahey collection.

Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed in and 20th Century Guitar. Send to P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249 e-mail:







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