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January 2003

 

     
 

 
GEORGE HARRISON


SANTANA


THE BEARS

 
THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES
 
TOTO
 
BEN GRANFELT
 
     
  GEORGE HARRISON
Brainwashed
(Capitol / Dark Horse)

It’s seemed like an eternity of time between November 29, 2001 and the closing of 2002 but for fans of Beatles legend George Harrison the wait (and the many lonely nights just thinking what if?) has been worth it. It’s almost like George has come back to us again, speaking to us from a far better place then desperate planet Earth has become. The reason to celebrate? Brainwashed is going to be the album everyone will call George’s last album, but those who knew George know that he left us with a library of unreleased and unfinished songs. It is true George has “left the building” and so it was up to his Traveling Wilbury’s buddy Jeff Lynne and George’s young son Dhani Harrison, in addition to drumming great Jim Keltner, to pick up the musical pieces and restructure the musical puzzle that George left unfinished. On reflection Jeff Lynne adds, “I’d been talking to George for the past couple or three years about finishing these songs. He said, ‘I’d like you to finish them for me’. We talked about it, and he said that he didn’t want the album to be posh. I thought if I left them rough as he would have liked, they wouldn’t come over as well. So, sorry George, I made them a little bit posher than you may have wanted. But I felt I was doing them justice.” And so it goes one year after we lost rock’s first and best ever lead guitarist. But firmly ensconced in the Harrison rock and roll style, Brainwashed kicks some serious ass. From the lead off philosophy-rocker “Any Road” to the plaintive remorse of “Looking For My Life”—from the lush instrumental guitar sounds of “Marwa Blues” to the caustic Harrisonian lyrics of the title track (complete with it’s song closing Indian chant), Brainwashed just might be the greatest George album ever and is clearly just what his longest, staunchest fans have been yearning for, at least since the Wilbury’s split. Like George's buddy Gary Brooker used to sing, “Still There’ll Be More”...but until then, Brainwashed is just the record you’re gonna need to chase away those cold, cloudy wintertime blues. Perhaps it is best summed up by popmeister Jeff Lynne who adds, “It was like, ‘wow, people are going to get to hear this, and it’s great. It began to seem like a more joyful experience, a celebration of George’s life.” www.georgeharrison.com


 
  SANTANA
Shaman
(Arista)

Latin music is red hot right now and no one epitomizes the spirit of Latin rock better than legendary guitar great Carlos Santana. Santana arrived at Arista Records with a boom, releasing his 25 million seller Supernatural album in ‘99. Santana followed up the release of Supernatural big time with his 2002 album Shaman. Like it’s predecessor, Shaman features an all-star lineup of acts looking to rub musical elbows with the guitar icon. Produced by Santana and record biz king-maker, Clive Davis, Shaman spotlights guest vocalists Dido, Macy Gray, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, operatic tenor Placido Domingo, Seal, the rock band P.O.D. (dazzling on the Shaman highlight “America”) in addition to fine players like the group Ozomatli, Grover Washington and original Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. Described by Carlos as being “a beautiful example of synchronicity”, Shaman builds on the musical progress of Supernatural and takes the multi-dimensional Santana rock sound to new heights. www.santana.com

 


 
  THE BEARS
Live
(Bears)

Put Adrian Belew in King Crimson and he’ll sing as good as Greg Lake and, linked with KC guru, Robert Fripp he’ll dazzle with his guitar craft. In The Bears, Belew knocks you out with his uncanny knack for crafting Beatles-inspired ‘60s pop. Coming off the heels of the group’s 2001 album Car Caught Fire, The Bears Live brings together an assortment of Bears classics recorded live on their February 2002 tour including tracks from their NYC gigs on 2/23-24. With guitars ignited, Belew is evenly positioned in the 2002 Bears lineup which finds him rocking alongside like-minded guitarists Rob Fetters and Bob Nyswonger with the band driven by the discerning drumming of Chris Arduser. It’s just amazing how well rounded the group appears live and hearing this CD is proof. The companion CD to the studio sounds of Car Caught Fire, The Bears Live captures a great American pop band alive and in prime form. www.thebearsmusic.com / www.cdbaby.com/cd/bearslive

 


 
  THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES
Behind The Music
(
Universal)

They’ve developed a fine reputation as one of Sweden’s best pop bands and six years after their ‘96 album, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives release Behind The Music—their U.S. major label debut on Universal Records. Sweden has long been a bastion of pop and instrumental jazz and rock. Performed by a lineup of fine players (including TSOOL’s front man Ebbot Lundberg and guitarist Ian Person) Behind The Music is clearly the group’s catchiest and most compelling album yet. Blending modern retro-pop influences like Kula Shaker and Oasis, TSOOL mix their pop brew with vintage-sounding ‘60s instruments like the fabled Mellotron and influences like The Beatles and The Monkees. Behind The Music is a fine example of just how good pop music can still be in 2002. www.thesoundtrackofourlives.net


 
  TOTO
Through The Looking Glass
(CMC / Capitol / EMI)

For their first new studio album in three years and their first for CMC / Capitol Records, rock legends Toto serve up a fine CD featuring all new recordings of some time-honored pop gems. According to Toto guitarist / vocalist Steve Lukather, “Through The Looking Glass is about looking back at the artists who have influenced us in one way or another and paying homage to the music”. On their 2002 CD, Lukather & company—including original Toto singer Bobby Kimball, David Paich (keyboards), Mike Porcaro (bass) and drumming legend Simon Phillips—tastefully revive a number of pop standards including The Beatles’ White Album favorite “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, Cream’s ‘67 smash “Sunshine Of Your Love”, “Burn Down The Mission” (the Elton John classic) and other favorites from Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan and Elvis Costello. The mostly vocal album is tempered by a stunning instrumental cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage / Butterfly”. The whole recording sounds great and Lukather’s guitar shines, especially on his faithful reproduction of Clapton’s brilliant guitar solo on “Sunshine Of Your Love”. Thanks to the top musicianship of all the players in Toto, Through The Looking Glass is a super tribute to the spirit of rock and roll. www.toto99.com

 


 
  BEN GRANFELT
All I Want To Be
(Megamania)

Back in his native Finland guitar ace Ben Granfelt earned a stellar reputation for his fretboard work with The Leningrad Cowboys as well as for several excellent instrumental rock albums (including The Truth from ‘94). Last year Granfelt amazed his fans with his work on the impressive 2002 Wishbone Ash album Bona Fide. In the spirit of Bona Fide, the late 2001 release of All I Want To Be further establishes Granfelt as a gifted singer-songwriter in his own right. There’s a couple of potent Wishbone-style instrumentals on the CD and other highpoints come with catchy, searing prog-pop tracks like “Keep Tomorrow Free” and “Sea Of Love”. Granfelt’s guitar playing keeps the energy level high while Miri Miettinen (drums) and Lauri Porra (bass) further enhance Granfelt’s rock soundscapes. www.bengranfelt.com


 
 
 
   
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