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Stage Left
(Fuel 2000)

So much of what makes rock legends Jethro Tull so great can be heard on Stage Left, the third solo album from long time Tull guitarist, Martin Lancelot Barre. The most recent chapter in a career that, commencing in 1969, went on to define the artistry of progressive rock guitar playing, Stage Left is filled with that electrifying Jethro Tull hallmark sound. With one vocal track—featuring Martin’s friend Simon Burrett—on an album of instrumental classical rock-fusion gems, the 14 track 2003 CD release of Stage Left finds Martin supported by top players like Tull bandmates Jonathan Noyce (bass) and Andrew Giddings (keyboards) and drummer Darren Mooney. Interestingly, Jethro Tull founder Ian Anderson has also just released his own 2003 solo CD on the L.A.-based Fuel 2000, entitled Rupi’s Dance, making 2003 a banner year for long time Tull fans.



Local Warming
(Yep Roc)

Finland’s great instrumental combo gets back to what they do best on their first U.S. CD in a while for North Carolina-based Yep Roc. In a major move inspired by musical trendsetters, L&TC early on sought musical inspiration from the colorful sounds of the ‘60s on their mid ‘90s albums such as Instruments Of Terror and their 1996 Absurdistan album. Instead of looking to fellow Finns and jazz-rocking groundbreakers like Pekka Pohjola and Jukka Tolonen, Laika instead picked it up from where Joe Meek (the late great composer of “Telstar”) left off in the ‘60s. Just imagine if Martin Denny or Enoch Light was producing Davie Allan or Dick Dale back in the late ‘ other words, this ain’t your mother’s surf music, unless you were born before 1958, then you will really appreciate it! One listen to the oddly titled Local Warming and it’s clear that Laika guitarists Mikko Lankinen and Matti Pitsinki sound as sharp as ever and—in perfect synchronicity with the driving beat and rhythm of master drummer Janne Haavisto and thumping Tom Nyman on bass—Finland’s greatest twangtastic surf band of all time continues to propel their musical dynamic over the top with dazzling guitar energies.



Heaven's Call

Making the most out of his Ibanez RG 550 and Ibanez 150B guitars, Ireland-based guitarist Alan Lennon breaks new ground on his 2003 CD. Best described as celestial gothic metal, Lennon’s eight track all instrumental, hard rock opus clocks in at just under a half hour, yet there’s quite a lot of fine musicianship to marvel at. The guitarist cites Jason Becker, Shawn Lane, Jeff Beck and George Lynch among his chief guitar influences and he’s quick to point out that “When there is a billion notes happening in a song it’s hard to just sit there and enjoy it. Very few players can shred with melody. It should always be about the song and not the ego. Thats why I love Becker and Lane.” While recording Heaven’s Call—with assistance from Shane McCullagh (bass), Bryan Walsh (drums) and Richard McCullagh (keyboards)—Lennon had candles burning in the studio. That eerie, majestic sense of atmosphere coupled with divine melody cuts straight through to the center of Heaven’s Call, making the entire CD a vital, otherworldly listening experience. In other recent Alan Lennon news the guitarist adds, “I just got an endorsement from Sovereign Guitars, which is a UK based guitar manufacturer. They are building me two guitars to my specifications. They are going to be the first guitars I have owned which will have everything the way I want it.”


Live & Loose

Based in Pennsylvania, guitarist Scott Bradoka starts off 2004 with a bang. After releasing several excellent instrumental guitar albums—including his 2003 classic Create Your Own Reality—Bradoka’s new one is a fine live in the studio CD that takes a good look back at his earlier recordings. The guitarist adds, “Live & Loose is an attempt to capture the vibe of the live band on CD. It includes selections from my first two records (Without Words & Swamp Party) and my fourth record, Create Your Own Reality.” Scott is joined by some fine players and guest guitarists, including his band, The Staggering Evil Geniuses and producer Eric Bazilian. With a number of musicians on hand, guitars abound throughout. Further commenting on his gear, Bradoka adds, “For the recording I used my '56 Les Paul Gold Top and my '54 Fender Stratocaster into my 1963 Vox AC30. Eric Bazilian used an old Rickenbacker Combo plugged into an old Gibson GA20, Craig Thatcher used a Gibson ES335 into a Working Dog amp, and Graham Perry used my Taylor 812CE.” Live & Loose is excellent CD from a guitarist that I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about in the days to come.


(Narada / Virgin)

An amazing solo guitarist who made quite an impression at the 2002 Montreux Jazz Festival, Kotaro Oshio released his second solo album for Narada in 2003. Filled with jazzy, meditative instrumental sounds in the spirit of Metheny and Jobim , Dramatic picks up from where Oshio left off on his U.S. debut CD Starting Point. An impeccable fingerstyle acoustic performance on steel string guitar, Dramatic features a round of Oshio originals along with inventive, relaxing solo guitar-based adaptations of Ravel’s “Bolero” and Pachelbel’s “Canon In D”. Describing his own music, Kotaro adds, “The guitar music I make is also filled with drama. At times strong, at time gentle, it is the type of drama that changes form depending on the listener.” A master of the steel string acoustic, Oshio gives his Greven D-Herringbone Custom guitar quite a workout on his impressive 2003 solo release.


Romantic Dreams

Hot on the heels of his critically acclaimed 2003 CD, Amor de Guitarra, California-based Nuevo Flamenco guitar master, Armik unveils his latest CD masterpiece, Romantic Dreams in January 2004. An inspiring homage to love and romance, the eleven track instrumental CD is the guitarist’s most impressive recording to date. On Romantic Dreams, Armik’s breathtaking flamenco guitar technique sets a new standard of guitar excellence. Rarely has the nylon string guitar been so well integrated into the realms of rumba, bolero and bossa nova rhythms as it is on Romantic Dreams. Much like the colorful cover art depicting his hand crafted Spanish flamenco guitars, Armik’s intriguing music and phenomenal guitar playing will transport you to a blissful World beat destination. If the thought of coming weeks and months of cold, snowy wintry weather has got you down, be sure to check out the bright, uplifting Romantic Dreams.

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

Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by Send to: CD Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein, P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249