September, 2000 
CD Reviews



Situation Dangerous
(Magna Carta)

BOZZIO LEVIN STEVENS - Situation DangerousAn apropos title no doubt, for whenever these three incredible players get together the situation indeed turns dangerous and for music lovers, awesome. While their self-titled Magna Carta let loose the trio’s secret, it’s really on their new one that reveals just how far BLS have come together. Terry Bozzio, of course goes back all the way to the dawn of American instrumental prog-rock with his drumming on the now-fabled self-titled Group 87 debut. In the spirit of that 1980 classic, Situation Dangerous is a phenomenal union of avant-gard rock and crafty fusion that words can’t begin to describe. Guitar monster Steve Stevens, ripe from the release of his ‘99 classic Flamenco A-Go-Go, comes alive with some exquisite fretboard work, while veteran bass master Tony Levin furthers his ongoing legacy. Comparing the first BLS album with Situation Dangerous, Terry Bozzio adds, “The biggest difference is that we had a week to rehearse! There is more structure which might possibly lead one to think that it is more accessible. There's some beautiful music, there's still a lot of burning playing and everybody is featured really well. It's still very eclectic. But instead of there being long periods of 'everything goes' which we had on the first album, it's more mapped-out. It's not as extended or jam-oriented”. A compelling new CD from three of the most gifted musicians performing today, Situation Dangerous is an album of fearless instrumental rock. 


Major Impacts
(Magna Carta)

STEVE MORSE - Major ImpactsGuitar great Steve Morse honors the guitar styles of his biggest influences on his first CD on Magna Carta. Morse adds, “The challenges were there, like trying to give the impression of a guitarist in a vocal band with an original piece of music that doesn’t use lyrics. If part of my record reminds you of another tune, you can be pretty sure it was intended.” On “Something Gently Weeps” Morse brilliantly evokes the slide guitar sound of Beatles ax-great George Harrison, while “TruthOla” is a Morse salute to guitarists Jeff Beck, Alex Lifeson and Eric Johnson. “Migration” conjures up images of Roger McGuinn with The Byrds, while “Led On” is Morse code for Jimmy Page and so on for 11 rockin’ tracks. Performing tight as a drum rhythm section chores is Dave LaRue (bass) and Van Romaine (drums). Not only does Morse come up with a pretty interesting concept here, but he’s written some mighty fine tunes with good hooks to back it up. Let’s hope that Morse gets to volume two in the near future. 


Three Meals From Revolution
(MG Productions)

MIND GALLERY - Three Meals From RevolutionRenowned for their two previous albums, Vancouver-based Mind Gallery keeps the spirit of instrumental rock alive and well with their latest CD. Possibly the group’s best to date, Three Meals From Revolution combines the sound of progressive rock and instrumental music with a steady flow of inventive and challenging neoclassical and avant gard musical ideas. Their music is always tuneful and congruous with just the right amount of prog-rock dynamics. According the group’s keyboardist, Elio Bruno, “"I always considered prog-rock the classical music of our generation”. Bruno & Co. prove that point to perfection with an outstanding array of dazzling, rocked-out instrumentals. Filling out the Mind Gallery sound is Gary Bourgeois (guitars), Tracy Gloeckner (drums) and Mike Anderton (bass). Each member is a masterful performer and each proves his worth as a strong composer. If you’ve ever wondered what groups like Yes or Genesis, in their prime, would sound like if they went instrumental you owe it to yourself to check out Three Meals From Revolution. 


Voodoo Dogs

VOODOO DOGSIs it jazz, funk, world music or hip-hop? The debut album from Voodoo Dogs is all that and much more. Masterminded by Larry Goldings (keyboards) and Bob Ward (guitars), Voodoo Dogs blends in so many diverse styles of instrumental music that it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole. Just when you think the set is going for a smooth jazz groove, in comes a sitar or an acoustic slide guitar sound. More jazz-based than rock or world beat, the Voodoo Dogs sound still owes alot to jazz pioneers like Wes Montgomery and organ master Jimmy Smith although there’s countless other modern music influences on hand. The CD’s smooth jazz tendencies aside, the best tracks here include “Spellbound”, “People Unite” and “The Birth Of Life”, tracks that successfully mix up the jazz vibe with colorful and unexpected World Beat instruments, background voices and rhythms. Ward and Goldings are accompanied by drummers and Avishai Cohen and Billy Drummond and Tim Ries (flutes, sax). Much like the bizarre cover art, Voodoo Dogs is going to amaze and impress jazzers and World Beat music buffs. 


Halcyon Blues

HAROLD HENKEL - Halcyon BluesGuitar fans into the widest possible variety of musical styles on one album should check out the latest disc from L.A.-based Harold Henkel. A master of ‘string percussion’, which involves using both hands to tap out notes along the neck of the guitar, Henkel cites Stanley Jordan and Michael Hedges among his big influences in developing his unusual style. As impressive as that is, it’s just one aspect of the Henkel sound. When he’s not dazzling you with his uncanny command of his Octoprotozoid (eight string guitar), Henkel is on track exploring a spectrum of diverse musical moods. One minute there’s a jazzy Wes Montgomery-flavored track, the next a rock fusion instrumental then the next an acoustic mood-altering moment. A master of diverging guitar styles and techniques, Henkel is well assisted on Halcyon Blues by Spinal Tap drummer Ric Parnell, Elgin Seals (wicked bass), Andrew Hooker (rhythm guitar) and Bruce Monical (percussion). Considered a ‘musician’s musician’ by players in the know such as Bob Weir and George Clinton, Henkel’s resume includes credits with Gong, Todd Rundgren, P.F. Sloan and Stevie Wonder to name a few. Henkel is obviously a name for guitar buffs to know. Well worth the time to hear, the 14 track, all instrumental (+ one vocal cut) Halcyon Blues is a sonic delight from start to finish. 


The Clearing
(Acoustic World)

DOMINIC GAUDIOUS - The ClearingA rising guitar luminary, Chicago-based acoustic guitar wiz Dominic Gaudious received numerous accolades for his 1999 album Acoustic Captivity and he now returns with a striking new 2000 album. Following up on the primarily solo acoustic quality of his earlier album, the 12 instrumentals comprising The Clearing merge Dominic’s mesmerizing acoustic playing with some tasty electric guitar work topped off by assistance from Kurt Ransom (drums) and Joey Hoffman (keyboards). The young guitarist is quite adept at blending musical genres such as New Age, classical, jazz, Flamenco and folk and now with The Clearing, Gaudious also taps into his original curiosity in instrumental rock and jazz. Recorded in Atlanta, The Clearing will provide splendid listening for fans of acoustic greats like Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges as well as jazz guitarists John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola. 


Tsar Wars

THE SPACE COSSACKS - Tsar WarsIn the spirit of their ‘97 MuSick Recordings debut Interstellar Stomp, Tsar Wars furthers the reputation of The Space Cossacks as trailblazers of the 21st Century instrumental rock scene. Surf-Rock legends The Ventures and U.K. rock and roll greats The Shadows helped pave the way for instrumental rock at the dawn of the ‘60s and The Space Cossacks should be praised for keeping that spirit alive and well. Featuring the electrifying playing Croatian-born guitar ace Ivan Pongracic & Co., Tsar Wars serves up 15 rocked-out instrumentals with names like “Space Race”, “Beyond The Third Star” and “Cossack Rocket Patrol”. From the label that brought you instro rock classics such as Swingin’ Creepers-A Tribute To The Ventures and An Evening In Nivram-A Tribute To The Shadows, Tsar Wars is a super sounding disc and is a must for long time fans of guitar-based instrumental rock. 



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