Record Label and Music Spotlight 




on Eel Pie


on Classic Pictures

on Attack / Sanctuary



ACCEPTABLE RECORDS - Based in Pennsylvania, Jim Cohen released Four To The Bar—his latest steel guitar masterpiece on his self owned Acceptable Records imprint. A master of the pedal steel, Cohen is assisted by some fine players including his producer / keyboardist Dan Kleiman and his son Jaji Hulting-Cohen on sax. Cohen serves up a number of tasty instrumental pedal treats on his ten track CD including covers of “Yardbird Suite” (Charlie Parker), “Surfer Girl” (Brian Wilson), “Tenor Madness” (Sonny Rollins) and more capped off by a stirring “Nights In White Satin”—featuring Cohen on the CD’s one vocal cut. From the liner notes Cohen adds, “This CD might well have been entitled “Further Adventures In Steel Guitar”, for it’s production has indeed been a musical adventure, taking me once again to places I didn’t necessarily expect to go when I started out on this trip.”

- One of the great things about progressive instrumental music is that you can combine so many influences that fall into different sub genres. The fifth album from San Francisco-based Jack West & The Curvature is such an album that skillfully wends around numerous musical curves. At the root of the Curvature sound is West’s eight string acoustic guitar, paired on the 2004 release of Around About Now, with the workmanship of steel virtuoso David Phillips and Joel Davel on marimba. There’s definitely an interest with Hawaiian guitar here yet West’s musical fabric is more durable and industrial, revealing a solid rhythmic edge with near dub-like effects. West’s skillfully picked acoustic paired with a lush steel and marimba backdrop creates a hypnotic instrumental edge while the cleverly recorded studio sound enhances the listening experience.

- Primarily a rock guitarist, U.K.-based Lachlan Horne honed his skills at the Guitar Institute in London where he studied under notables like fretboard great John Etheridge. Citing early influences like Frank Gambale, Jeff Beck and Richie Kotzen, Horne cuts loose on his 11 track CD debut on his own Alactric Music. Backed by several drummers, Horne kicks things into overdrive with his blazing guitar solos, cunning guitar tricks and rock-solid riffs. A hard hitting, guitar-based instrumental CD bristling with sheer hard rock might, The Time Has Come is a sonic journey into the realm of rock, metal, funk and blues and offers splendid confirmation of Horne’s stature as a rising guitar hero.

- Collector’s Choice is making available the first four albums from Badfinger as released on Apple back in the early ‘70s on CD. For fans of the Beatles great record label, these albums were heaven sent back when those were the days. Apple’s reissue of Magic Christian Music features their breakthrough hit “Come And Get It” and the CD tags on a pair of bonus tracks. Also from 1970, their perennial favorite No Dice featured “No Matter What”—a power pop classic still being covered nearly 35 years later. With the release of 1972’s Straight Up, Badfinger’s powerful pop blend really matured. Apple’s CD adds on six bonus tracks including production from George Harrison, Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and Nazz founder Todd Rundgren. By the time of their 1973 Apple release—Ass—the band signed to Warner Brothers. Each CD features bonus tracks, detailed liner notes and discography information and in the case of Ass, a voluminous account of just how despondent Badfinger main man Pete Ham felt about leaving the protective wing of the Beatles empire—in fact, a disastrous move that would lead to Ham’s premature self-inflected demise and the eventual dissolution of Badfinger as a musical entity. That said, there’s enough classic pop on these posthumous remasters to make it a literal curriculum for teaching a course on how to write an intelligent, memorable pop song.
When The Beatles revved up Apple back in ‘68, among their breakthrough releases was a stellar album set from Liverpool rocker Jackie Lomax. In fact, the only Beatle not in attendance on the 1969 release of Is This What You Want? is chief Beatle John Lennon, although with key songwriting and producing credits by George Harrison and Paul McCartney, the album remains, 35 years later, clearly one of the highlights of that magical summer of ‘69. Ringo also lends his drumming skills, blazing away on the legendary Harrison composed “Sour Milk Sea”. A range of top players including Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkins add to the superstar feel of the album, which is expanded on this EMI reissue with five bonus tracks, including the McCartney productions and further Harrison produced tracks recorded between ‘68-70. On this essential remaster, EMI further stacks the deck with discography, liner notes, rare photos and restored album art. /

- When it comes to pioneering electronic instrumental music and e-rock, it doesn’t get any better than Roxy Music founder and David Bowie cohort Brian Eno. Eno’s early catalog on EG Records was upgraded in early 2004 on NYC-based Astralwerks. Remastered ‘as they were intended to be heard’, using class A analog electronics are Here Come The Warm Jets (from 1973 w/ Robert Fripp, Phil Manzanera, John Wetton, Chris Spedding), Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974 w/ Manzanera, Robert Wyatt, Phil Collins), Before And After Science (1977 w/ Manaznera, Fred Frith, Percy Jones) topped off by Eno’s ‘70s masterpiece, 1975’s Another Green World. Featuring sidemen such as John Cale, Phil Collins, Robert Fripp and many more, AGW remains one of the critical albums leading to the popularity of minimalist, New Age instrumental and avant-gard pop music. No liner notes or lyrics on these 2004 Eno remasters yet top DSD sound quality, complete credits and spruced up artwork fulfills their essential status. /

- According to Morrissey, “This is the album that I've wanted to make for quite a while. I believe You Are The Quarry has something for everyone." Long time fans of Smiths founder Morrissey will love You Are The Quarry and on his first solo album in seven years the controversial U.K. rocker has lots to say about the dire state on planet earth in 2004. Recorded in L.A. and London and released on the newly reactivated Attack Records, the combined CD/DVD release features a dozen new Morrissey originals co-composed with guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte. Long time fans will be intrigued by the sheer pop dynamism and overt drama on You Are The Quarry, yet as quickly Morrissey points out, “There are no links to the past. This is a much brighter sounding album, than much of my previous work. We've turned the page with Quarry. It's a dynamic album and I couldn't be any happier.” Rounding out the lush-sounding CD, are vital contributions from producer Jerry Finn and pop keyboard wiz Roger Manning, a founder of the power pop band Jellyfish. According to producer Finn, “This is one of the best records I've produced. It's just purely organic and it sounds incredible." You Are The Quarry reinforces Morrissey’s cult-status as a post-punk pop innovator. The packaging is awesome and the combined DVD video with instant accessibility to lyrics makes it essential.

- Their record company is named after a classic ‘60s pop hit and and after years of fun covers of obscure sixties tunes and soundtrack themes, guitarist Lane Steinberg & keyboardist Steve Barry set out to reestablish their own expert pop credentials with their new outfit, Tan Sleeve and they couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to introduce their 2004 CD. Bad From Both Sides crisscrosses genres with it’s modern pop edge yet clearly the two remain true to early influences like The Beatles and Big Star. Experts at reactivating a nostalgic ‘60s pop mood (witness the lush pop strains of the Bacharach flavored “Take A Piece While You Can”), the two NYC-based singer-songwriters cover all the instruments with assistance from a pair of drummers and well-placed female back-up singers.

-On his solo debut as a leader for Consolidated Artists Productions, guitarist James Silberstein makes a favorable impression on a selection of instrumentals, and one vocal, that combine influences from the jazz, pop and Brazilian music worlds. On Song For Micaela, the NYC-based guitarist is joined by a range of players including bassist Tony Cimorosi, who also co-produced the twelve track CD, horn greats Randy Brecker (trumpet) and Eric Alexander (sax), Vince Cherico (drums), Harvie S (bass), Carla Cook (vocal) and keyboardist Bruce Barth. With a guitar sound comparable in tone and style to jazz giants like Pat Martino, Tal Farlow and Joe Diorio, Silberstein is right at home on appealing covers of the Anthony Newley classic, “Who Can I Turn To” and the evergreen “Baubles, Bangles & Beads”, while also demonstrating his own compositional gifts on the lead off track, “Red Carpet”, "Aquas," a medium-tempo groover and a rousing 7+ minute, jazzy, post-bop romp entitled “House Party”. The lone vocal track, “So Many Stars”, featuring singer Carla Cook, caps off one of the finest guitar-based, instrumental jazz albums of 2004.

- Showcasing twenty four classic live videos that no self-respecting ‘60s music fan should miss, So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star is a veritable gold mine of groundbreaking ‘60s pop. Mostly culled from the ‘60s Euro-pop show Beat Club, highlights of the Classic Pictures DVD include live video tracks from The Who (“Pictures Of Lily”, “I’m Free”), Cream (“Strange Brew”), The Byrds (“So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”), The Kinks (“Waterloo Sunset”), Small Faces (“Lazy Sunday”), Manfred Mann (“Mighty Quinn”). Many other other key video tracks featuring The Beach Boys, Procol Harum, The Everly Brothers and more are featured yet perhaps the definite highlights are rarely seen videos from Thunderclap Newman (“Something In The Air”), the three piece Traffic (“Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”) and Spencer Davis Group (“Keep On Running”), both featuring Steve Winwood, with the kicker being a live Beat Club rave up of “I Really Haven’t Got The Time” from Mike Pinder & The Moody Blues. Fly trans-love airways back to the coolest time of the 20th Century to be a music fan with So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.

- There is nothing more beautiful than the sound of Hawaiian slack key and steel guitar guitar. One of the finest Hawaiian music labels, Cord International and their off-shoot label Hana Ola Records continues to release state of the art instrumental and vocal CDs of music from the 50th state. Among the latest CDs on Hana Ola is a new recording from Ken Emerson & Friends entitled Hawaiian Tangos, Hulas & Blues. Currently one of Hawaii’s most prominent slack key and steel guitarists, Emerson is joined on his 2004 release by a number of players including rock legend Todd Rundgren, who lives in Hawaii now. Described as an “acoustic musical journey where American roots meets traditional Hawaii with tasteful and inspiring Latin & Caribbean influences”, the 16 track mix of bluesy / jazzy vocal and instrumental tracks features Emerson’s fine vocals and guitar work on a number of instruments including his 1930’s National Style O Resonator guitar. Other recent CD releases of Hawaiian music on Cord / Hana Ola includes a retrospective of traditional Hawaiian vocal and instrumental music entitled, The History Of Slack Key Guitar. Featuring historic Hawaiian music performances from the past 60 years (including 1940’s recordings by Gabby Pahinui), this 20 track various artist compilation was produced by George Winston—the New Age guru long regarded as one of the leading authorities of vintage Hawaiian recordings. Other recent Winston reissue productions on Cord includes a pair of various vocal/instrumental compilations from Hawaiian slack key master Leonard Kwan. Well worth the time for World Music and Hawaiian music fans, each Cord title is packed with colorful artwork and intriguing, detailed liner notes.

- Still America’s premier label when it comes to classic progressive Euro and American artists, MD.-based Cuneiform have released some intriguing CD titles in 2004 from three bonafide legends from England’s fabled Canterbury music scene. First off, Solar Flares Burn For You, from Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt, compiles thirteen tracks Wyatt recorded for two BBC radio broadcasts, from ‘72 and ‘74, a film soundtrack from ‘73 (along with the actual film in Quicktime) and more recent music recorded in 2002-2003 with Wyatt’s co-founder in the Softs, bass great Hugh Hopper. Although he remains paralyzed as the result of an accident in June of 1973, Wyatt has kept up his musical legacy with a multitude of acclaimed releases since and Cuneiform’s Solar Flares furthers his icon stature. Wyatt’s early co-founder in Soft Machine, Daevid Allen, is best known for forming ‘70s Euro space-jazz greats, Gong, and like Wyatt, he’s recorded a wealth of trendsetting solo albums since the early ‘70s. Well into his ‘60s now, Allen rocks out like a wild man half his age on his 2004 album with University Of Errors, entitled Jet Propelled Photographs. The kicker here is that, for this album, Allen has taken the fabled, earliest Soft Machine tracks and has rerecorded them in true space cadet fashion. Assisted here by talented players such as Michael Clare (bass) and Josh Pollock (guitars), Allen remains on the cutting edge of progressive rock and he’s really done something magical with these ‘60s classics. He wasn’t in Soft Machine, but drummer Pip Pyle has played with the best prog-rock bands in Europe including Gong, Hatfield & The North and National Health. Decades later, Pip’s still at it and he’s in top form on his latest with Pip Pyle’s Bash. Entitled Belle Illusion, the CD features a sizzling set of instrumental jazz-rock featuring Pyle assisted by French guitar wiz Patrice Meyer and others. Recorded in Paris and Seattle in 2002-2003, Belle Illusion is right up there among Pyle’s finest. Like always, Cuneiform has packaged their noteworthy titles with eye-catching artwork and descriptive liner notes.

- A stylistic mixture of atmospheric jazz and post-bop spontaneous combustion, the 2003 CD from N.Y.C.-based guitarist Dustin Ehrlich features a cool combination of instrumental tracks. Ehrlich claims, “Since many of my influences have been musicians associated with the ECM record label, A Distant Star has that type of expansive, yet-intimate sound...almost a meditative musicality.” Multi-tracked to great effect by Ehrlich on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, classical guitar, bass and synthesizer, A Distant Star is like a sublime soundtrack. Having studied with Bay-area jazz guitarist Mark Stefani and N.Y.C. guitar legend Sal Salvador, Ehrlich clearly has the chops and from another viewpoint, he’s well versed in a variety of musical genres. Commenting on his musical influences, Ehrlich adds, “Mike Rutherford and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer were my primary influences for many years. Both were guitarists, bassists, and composers. They knew when to play mellow acoustic passages, when to engage in tight riffing, and when to let loose and wail. Style was not a limiting factor.” The introspective and intimate arena in which Ehrlich works makes him a suitable choice for music fans interested in neo-jazz fusion guitar sounds.

- It may be have taken Dan Dugmore 32 years to record his first solo album, but since buying his first pedal steel from Sneaky Pete after the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, Dugmore earned a stellar reputation through his work with Linda Ronstadt, between 1974-88, and James Taylor, between 1980-1988. Moving to Nashville in 1990, Dugmore has become one of the town’s most sought after steelers and in 2004 he gives his fans plenty to ponder with his Off White Album. Dan’s steel guitar tribute to The Beatles, the 12 track instro CD features laid back, country-twang renditions of classic Fab Four tracks like “Fool On The Hill”, “Something” and “Across The Universe”. Arranging them for steel guitar, Dugmore has done something special with these musical gems adding, “the real challenge was to give those beautiful melodies that we all know by heart a new voice. I wanted people to hear them in a way they’ve never heard them before.” Supporting his steel guitar mastery with his own acoustic guitar and bass work, Dugmore’s Off White Album is most satisfying salute to the magic of The Beatles.

- Culled from three different devotional albums Pete Townshend made in honor of Meher Baba (1894-1969), Jai Baba is a 2004 double CD retrospective on Townshend’s Eel Pie imprint. First anthologized on Eel Pie as the triple CD Avatar box set, (which quickly sold out) in 1999, these three original ‘70s releases—Happy Birthday, I Am and With Love—feature a range of solo music from Townshend, Billy Nichols, Ron Geesin, the late, great Ronnie Lane and other Baba disciples. Highlights of Jai Baba includes a Townshend demo of the Who classic, “The Seeker” and tracks found on Townshend’s famous Who Came First album. There’s also a live version of the WCF classic “O’ Parvardigar” recorded live by Townshend in 1972 at Baba’s tomb in India. Essential for Who fans and anyone looking to reexplore some of Townshend’s most inspiring (though least appreciated) solo work from the ‘70s, the 32 track Jai Baba is a constant reminder of the enormous impact Baba had on Townshend, Nichols, Lane and the other gifted musicians featured here.

- Described as a pop delight along the lines of the cozy city-folk sound of Simon & Garfunkel and the anthemic Euro-pop of The Cardigans, the fourth CD from Norway’s Ephemera offers a winning mix of angelic female vocals and impressive melodic arrangements. Going strong for the past six years, the trio of Inger Lise Størkse, Christine Sandtorv and Jannicke Larsen write and perform their own music. Huge in Norway, the gals are also all the rage in Japan, Denmark and the U.K. and this past June, Ephemera opened for David Bowie in Norway. The blissful, thirteen track Score is one of the finest pop efforts to come out of continental Europe in recent memory.

- More a recording project than a band, the new release from Jet Black Crayon comes across like a cinematic opus for an imaginary flick. Featuring founding members Monte Vallier and Tommy Guerrero, the all instrumental 2004 CD, Inaccuracies Of The Mind Machine borders on a number of genres—soundtracks, drum & bass, hip-hop and experimental—yet never comes up short on innovative musical ideas. Featuring a number of guest players, the 14 track CD sounds also greatly influenced by prog-rock legends King Crimson and should be just the ticket for those looking for fresh and innovative progressive sounds.

- It’s not that Wisconsin-based guitarist Bill Heck doesn’t have alot to say, it’s just that he let’s his fingers do the talking. On his 2003 CD Calm Before The Storm Heck cuts loose on an eight cut instrumental CD that blends guitar fusion with a more meditative New Age feel that sounds superb. Heck covers lots of ground on electric and acoustic guitars, bass and keyboards and he’s well complimented by Pat Hunkins on drums and percussion. Creating his album with sonic depth and precision, Heck makes good use of his Ovation acoustic, Fender American Strat, Carvin DC400, Korg Triton ProX synth, and Fostex digital multi-track recorder. And he wears his influences—from Joe Satriani to George Winston—quite well.

- New Jersey-based DVD experts Kultur—and their subsidiary SRO Entertainment) made alot of people happy with recent Moody Blues and Julian Bream DVDs and now they take on the ‘60s with Casey Kasem’s Rock & Roll Goldmine. On the cover of the 5 DVD box set you’ll see pictures of greats like Jerry Garcia, Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Davies and none other than rock’s impresario Casey Kasem! In this five part musical documentary, Kasem accurately portrays the ‘60s as a time of unprecedented cultural and social upheavals. The five DVDs in the box includes The Sixties (with live performance footage from The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, The Doors, Cream, interview footage with The Beatles and more),.The Soul Years (w/ James Brown, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding and more), The British Invasion (w/ The Kinks, Procol Harum, Peter & Gordon, Traffic and more), Elvis...The Echo Will Never Die (A ten part documentary on The King covering his “Memphis Roots” to “Blue Suede Heaven”) and The San Fransisco Sound (w/ The Grateful Dead, Santana, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Steve Miller Band and more). In addition to incredible live performances from each of the above artists, the series subtly weaves in newsreel footage of all many major social events of the ‘60s—from JFK and Civil Rights to Vietnam and the lunar landing. Another major 2004 DVD release on Kultur / SRO is a three DVD box set entitled 20 Years After - A Woodstock Reunion Concert. Everyone knows just how significant the original Woodstock festival was back in 1969, and here’s a chance to reexperience the 1989 20th anniversary concert celebration of the original Woodstock with some of the original artists and a whole lot more. Original Woodstock artists reappearing at the ‘89 reunion includes Country Joe McDonald, Melanie, Canned Heat, while other artists celebrating at the 1989 Woodstock reunion gig include The Chambers Brothers, Iron Butterfly, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Mark Farner (of Grand Funk), Buddy Miles, Spencer Davis Group, Humble Pie (w/ Jerry Shirley), Iron Butterfly and a fine performance from Leon Russell & Edgar Winter. This ain’t the original Woodstock by a long stretch yet prime 1989 concert footage featuring some of rock’s most notable groups coupled with fitting interviews with the late, great Dr. Timothy Leary (who better to relive the Woodstock experience with?) makes 20 Years After a suitable relic for anyone who can’t get enough of Woodstock—now 35 years after the original event that shaped a generation.

- Two songs in the twang hall of fame—”Apache” (written in the U.K. for The Shadows by Jerry Lordan) and “Ghost Riders In The Sky” (written by Stan Jones)—are the subject of a pair of 2004 CD releases on the French Magic imprint. Kicking off with the original Shadows hit version from 1960, the 22 track Apachemania CD goes on to feature 22 rockin’ covers of “Apache” from The Ventures, Bert Weedon, The Spacemen, Davie Allan & The Arrows, Hank Marvin solo from ‘97, The Shadows live in Paris in ‘75 and from a group known as, what else but The Apaches. Kicking off with a faithful 2004 cover of the song by French guitar ingenue Matilda, Magic’s 24 track Ghost Riders In The Sky features a fine array of covers from The Ventures (1961), The Spotnicks (from 1961) The Shadows (from 1980), The Chantays (from ‘63) along with more decade spanning “Ghost Riders” tracks from various Euro and U.S. rockers.

- Featuring music composed by the late, great Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story is one of the most successful musical productions of the 20th Century. Now in 2004, L.A.-based pedal steel guitarist Mike Perlowin has adapted Bernstein’s timeless music as an instrumental opus arranged for pedal steel guitar. Assisted by Dave Beyer (drums) and other fine players, Perlowin’s musical masterpiece should find a home with steel guitar aficionados and just about anyone who ever enjoyed West Side Story. Perlowin’s guitar craft spans his expertise on pedal and Hawaiian steel guitars, electric 6 and 12 string guitars, acoustic steel and nylon string guitars, fretted and fretless basses, five and six string banjos, mandolin and auto-harp. Perlowin’s 19 track adaptation of West Side Story features those popular songs from the Broadway show, as well as other Bernstein pieces from the film and operatic version. One critic claimed that Perlowin’s CD would make great listening for those who appreciate greats like Pat Metheny, Bela Fleck and Bill Frisell, yet Mike’s steel magic transcends category and genre, clearly making it a modern day American music classic. The CD is topped off by eye-catching cover artwork and fitting liner notes. Perlowin’s other solo CD—Stravinsky: Firebird Suite—is yet another set filled with his brilliant steel guitar expertise.

- One of the hottest instrumental rock bands on the scene today, Pollo Del Mar released their 2004 album, The Golden State on MuSick and it’s a good one. Sounding like Neil Young fronting The Ventures, The Golden State rocks with a vengeance and also skirts the borders of symphonic surf music. Featuring the ultra hot guitar interplay of Ferenc Dobronyl and Jono Jones, The Golden State may be a bit too heavy to be considered traditional surf, yet there’s enough fury in the waves of sound to make it of interest to long time surf-rockers and progressive guitar instrumental fans. In addition to the group’s spellbinding originals, The Golden State offers a rockin’ instro of “Hall Of The Mountain King” written by legendary 19th Century classical champion Edvard Grieg.

- Over in England, guitarist Zoe McCulloch released her fifth solo album and though she’s just turned 18, she’s hit her stride with the 2004 release of Gypsy Noodle. Meeting and hooking up with the great Mason Williams sparked a new interest in his song, “Classical Gas”, resulting in a 2004 Zoe version of the instro classic. Williams also composed the CD opening title track for McCulloch. Bearing the Williams circular instro sound, Zoe underscores the track with her searing guitar leads. Her true to life cover versions of five different Williams tunes, two covers of Mark Knopfler and more, brings the vintage Jet Harris / early Shadows sound up to date with style. Obviously delighted with Zoe’s latest hit, Mason Williams also contributed cool liner notes for the album, linking the instro generations, young and old.

- Guitarist Chris Rodler, his brother / drummer Brett Rodler and lead guitarist Mike Ohm may be going deaf for a living, but what a way to go! The Rodler brothers have been making musical waves for over a decade on a variety prog-rock albums and they hit their stride on Going Deaf For A Living, their 2004 all-instrumental CD release on the PA-based Progressive Music Management. In the words of Chris Rodler, “I suppose this CD could be described as loud, complex, high-energy, rhythmically challenging, harmonically sophisticated, metal-coated, instrumental prog-rock with a bad attitude.” Teaming with G.I.T. grad / session guitarist Mike Ohm, the Rodler brothers take no prisoners on a razor sharp instrumental CD that breaths new fire into the rock fusion sound pioneered by guitar greats like Steve Morse and Steve Vai. Topped off by state of the art studio technology and mastering, Going Deaf For A Living makes quite a bold instrumental hard rock statement.

- Having studied with jazz guitar great Joe Pass, Astoria, N.Y. native Anthony Papamichael released his own remarkable guitar instrumental record in 2004. Mass Appeal by Papamichael World Group strikes a goldmine with it’s unique assortment of wide ranging guitar moods. Throughout the CD Papamichael demonstrates amazing guitar chops and, combined with a propensity for easy on the ears smooth jazz sounds, he’s made an upbeat groove-based jazz CD that swings and cooks at the same time. Backed by a tight band of kindred players, Papamichael makes fine use of his Larrivee Guitars and Tacoma Guitars. Much like the colorful melting pot neighborhood in NYC from where he emerged, PapaMichael World Group never comes up short of colorful and exciting musical ideas, all of which seems to effortlessly flow from the inner city groove of Mass Appeal.

- The band of choice for President Bush, The Brindley Brothers caught the ear of big W who hailed them in a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as “confident people”, that “define the entrepreneurial spirit in America.” Who knew Bush had an ear for pop music? Clearly, the Brindley’s clearly rise to the executive level on their CD debut on the Decatur-based Paste imprint. Comparisons abound including twangy roots pop pioneers like Big Star, Wilco and even Tom Petty. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, Luke Brindley (guitar, vocals) and Daniel Brindley (keys, vocals) are joined by a range of players on their nine track Playing With The Light. In addition to their gathering pop status, the brothers are also known in the nation’s capitol as the proprietors of Jammin’ Java—a 200 seat music venue with a recording studio and music school on site—the brothers clearly have it going both ways with the ripping, infectious roots pop groove of Playing With The Light.

SANCTUARY - The tale of just how Keith Relf and Jim McCarty transformed The Yardbirds and Renaissance into rock royalty can be traced back in time on a 2004 double CD retrospective taking a look at just how Renaissance started. Like Fleetwood Mac, the original Renaissance developed the concept and like the pioneers they gave it all away it to collateral innovators to carry the brand name into the end zone. As Innocents & Illusions skillfully debates, Relf and McCarty’s first post-Yardbirds project, Renaissance remains epic—a defining musical moment from the dawn of the ‘70s. Not only has the first complete Renaissance album been reissued with excellent remastering, but’s it’s been repackaged by Sanctuary as a double set with another CD featuring a round of more great music Relf and McCarty made in the few years before Relf’s untimely passing away in 1976 at age 33. Like all their great reissues, Sanctuary’s double CD reissue features voluminous notes from David Wells. Although it was reissued a couple years back (with the original Elektra Records artwork, Sanctuary has possibly released the definitive story with Innocents & Illusions.

With America roiling from a decade long turmoil of war, political assassinations and racial/social unrest—reflected by the mid ‘60s protest / hippie based revolution sounds—over in Mother England, the Brits were busy saving our planet, refining a true musical artform called progressive rock, springing forth fully formed on musical masterpieces like Sgt. Peppers and In Search Of The Lost Chord finally hitting the trifecta with In The Court Of The Crimson King. A serendipitous union of Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Mike Giles, and a gifted singer named Greg Lake, King Crimson were a huge phenomenon in the Fall of 1969, blowing minds and yet a second later the band was gone...but not forgotten. After Crimson carried on without him, Lake joined Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer for a fabled keyboard, bass & drum experiment, and the tale once again recalled on a 2004 double CD reissue compilation on Sanctuary entitled Emerson Lake & Palmer - The Ultimate Collection. With Keith Emerson currently on tour with a 2004 version of The Nice, Greg Lake’s solo career is reexamined on two compilation CDs of various demos and live tracks available from his website From The Underground Vol 1 & 2 combine for a comprehensive bootleg style retrospective of Lake’s various recordings including revealing tracks by his pop-based, pre-Crimson outfit, The Shame, as well as rarities from the heyday of ELP, Emerson Lake & Powell, Asia, King Crimson and more. Also available on Lake’s site is a collectible ELP DVD chronicling the Works Orchestral Tour (Montreal ‘70) and The Manticore Special (with highlights from their ‘75 World tour) and a CD reissue of Lake’s 1983 effort Manoeuvres (with Gary Moore). While perusing Lake’s web site check out the CD release of King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Ringo & A His New All Starr Band, featuring Lake’s stellar performance cover of “Lucky Man”, captured for posterity on Ringo’s 2002 tour. /

SIVLE RECORDS - Featuring the smart guitar and bass work of Tom “Tremolo” Pervanje, Cleveland’ premier spy-surf band—Spy-Fi have released a number of titles topped off by two excellent CDs releases in late 2003. The latest in the label’s Music For Spies, Thighs & Private Eyes series—both CDs blend a wealth of ‘60s beat group style instrumental classics with a few group originals. Vol 1., The Thigh Who Loved Me spotlights ‘60s inspired Spy-Fi covers of icons like P.F. Sloan, Dimitri Tiomkin, Neal Hefti, Jerry Goldsmith, Joe Meek and more, while Vol. 2, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang keeps the pot boiling with further Spy-fi forays into the song book of Lalo Schiffrin, Henry Mancini, John Barry and more. Pervanje and his Spy-fi band mates pay close attention and deftly summon up the spirit in which this music was made—straight down to the ardent, zesty ‘60s style cover art adorning both titles. Recommended for surf-rock and ‘60s TV soundtrack enthusiasts, both volumes are dedicated to the late great Henry Mancini, England’s greatest living soundtrack composer John Barry and Barry’s long time guitarist, the L.A.-based Vic Flick, and, an icon who as acted as a mentor to Pervanje and many other fans of his work on those great ‘60s Barry soundtracks. Where to begin? How about with Vol. 1 with it’s cool recreations of all time classics like “Secret Agent Man”, “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and Joe Meek’s dawn of the ‘60s icon “Telstar”.

SLIPT DISC RECORDS - Any guitarist worth his weight that cites Tales From Topographic Oceans as a main influence is worth at least a listen, and on his latest with the band Land Of Chocolate, guitarist John Covach scores with a savory set of freewheeling, yet studied prog-driven rock. According to Covach, "The band's music blends aspects of 70s progressive rock with elements drawn from contemporary rock, so I tried to balance the stylistic eclecticism of the prog tradition with the aggressive edge of more recent music. I played my Heritage Millennium 155 and 575 Custom mostly, with a bit of G&L Comanche and Rickenbacker twelve-string thrown in here and there for timbral contrast. I also used my Kohno classical in the solo section that begins 'Mechanical Pencil'." /

SPIRITONE RECORDS - True to the title of his 2004 CD, Spirits In The House, Kenn Fox evokes the feel of guitar greats like Michael Hedges, Davey Graham and John Fahey. On his fifth instrumental CD, Spirits, Fox keeps the settings sparse, yet he vividly gets his point across—with able support from Dave Finley (bass) and Randy Mueller (drums)—on fifteen tracks of acoustic-based instrumental guitar magic. Much like Americana guitar maven John Fahey, Fox makes a unique musical statement with each original guitar instrumental. As cool as his acoustic forays are, the other side of Fox is best explored on a dazzling 2003 album with his group Voltage Unit, entitled Send. Assisted again by drummer Mueller and percussionist Raj Alaw, Send is a most masterful CD that blends in the vibe of King Crimson, achieving a heady mixture of electrifying guitar-based progressive sounds. As a principal founder of Spiritone Records, Fox brings a wealth of performance and production skills to the table, and—although wearing a number of musical hats—he readily admits, “In one respect, I like only one kind of music...good music.” Other guitar-based CDs by Kenn Fox on Spiritone includes Brave Face, Near Life Experience, and Epiphany.

STUPIDO - Starting out in the mid ‘90s as one of Finland’s most promising instrumental rock bands, The Hypnomen, featuring the music of group guitarist Pekka Laine, have been on a self-proclaimed mission, “to spread the pagen gospel of instrumental rock and the unholy teachings of Master Link Wray all over creation.” With several albums under their belt The Hypnomen now sound like they’ve been dropping acid and listening to early Dead and Allman Brothers records! From a group who’ve dabbled in cool soundtrack tones, ‘60s style Latin go-go music and space age psychedelia, their 2004 CD, Crystal Skies embraces a heavy instrumental jam band vibe. Sounding more like String Cheese Incident than The Ventures in places, Crystal Skies is foot-tapping set of friendly instro tracks. With plenty of Hammond organ, fuzz guitars and percussion on hand, Crystal Skies vividly embraces a fascinating West Coast psychedelic twist.

TCC - Back in the ‘70s, years before they would strike it rich with The Rolling Stones and Lenny Kravitz, Virgin Records cultivated a reputation for signing some of the most incredible progressive rockers of the 20th Century including Mike Oldfield, Gong, Wigwam and Robert Wyatt. Perhaps their most fantastic band were German space-rockers Tangerine Dream. T. Dream, as they became known, almost single-handedly invented the ‘70s Euro techno/electronica music movement. While their ‘80s and ‘90s releases aren’t rated quite as highly as their early ‘70s album, T. Dream nevertheless staked out quite a reputation as a live act during the past 30 years. Their history as a live force to be reckoned with is reexamined on a new series entitled The Bootmoon Series. T. Dream founder and brainchild and resident electronic wizard / guitarist Edgar Froese has done a great job personally overseeing this limited edition series. The first five T. Dream double live Bootmoon CD sets includes Montreal - April 9th 1977, Aachen - January 21st 1981, Paris - February 2nd 1981, Sydney - February 22nd 1982 and Ottawa - June 20th 1986. Decked out with vivid artwork and superior ‘bootleg quality’ sound, the T. Dream Bootmoon series provides comprehensive insight into a group highly regarded as being among the prime innovators of European electronic music.

VARESE VINTAGE - The Godfathers of American instrumental rock, The Ventures may already be in their early ‘70s but they blow away the competition with their eternally summer-sounding Surfin’ To Baja. Still rockin’ out in style, group founders Don Wilson and Bob Bogle are joined by other notable Ventures alumni including Nokie Edwards, Gerry McGee as well as drummer Mel Taylor (a Venture from 1962 till his passing in 1996) and Mel’s replacement, his son Leon Taylor. The Ventures are still huge in Japan and this 19 track CD collection collects sides from a number of various Nippon-only Ventures album releases from 1992-2000. Rounding out the current Ventures lineup of players are Jeff Baxter on lead guitar and David Carr on keyboards and synthesizers. Varese have done a fine job on this impressive Ventures collection topping it off with detailed discography and first hand account notes from Bill Dahl. After spinning this classic instro CD a few times, who can argue with the comparison of The Ventures to Beethoven catching a wave on Waikiki beach!

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



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