Leslie West – Unusual Suspects (2011)

FrontCover1.jpgIf you don’t know of Leslie West, then shame on you. Even decades since his band Mountain shook Woodstock, his name still remains disturbingly unknown among the masses. On Unusual Suspects, his latest solo release, the pioneering titan of blues rock demonstrates that his name still deserves a spot among the greats; his impact on blues rock guitar (and hard rock, for that matter) can be heard in bands that range from Gov’t Mule to Motörhead to Muse.

The most exciting aspect of Unusual Suspects is the appearances made by A-listers of the guitar world. Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Joe Bonamassa, and session maestro Steve Lukather, best known for his role in Toto, are a crushing company that helps authenticate West’s status as a guitar legend. Despite their smoking presence, West towers above. It is also extremely noteworthy that Kenny Aronoff is by West every step of the way. With possibly the most impressive résumé of any working drummer, Aronoff continues to turn standard blues beats into flawless roaring beats that fit perfectly on Unusual Suspects.

When it comes to Unusual Suspects, there are no low points. If you drop the needle on any and every point of the album you are sure to witness heavy and fun displays of blues inspired rock. Of the tracks that brandish guest stars, there isn’t one that doesn’t demand an immediate listen.

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“One More Drink for the Road” is driven by Steve Lukather’s ominous keys. The chugging rock tune is as heavy as anything else on the album without every truly exploding. “Mudflap Mama,” featuring Slash, boasts a nasty bottleneck riff that sounds as if it just rolled off the Harley-Davidson line. “Standing On A Higher Ground” is nothing but an ideal parade of Billy Gibbons and his blunt coolness. Co-written by Gibbons, the tune is 100% ZZ Top. Two of the most coveted and renowned tones in rock history team up together on this track. Gibbons’ swaggering and sly playing teams with West’s momentous crunch to create a locomotion of desirable sleaze. The wildest part of this track is undoubtedly the opening riff: an absolutely bizarre hybrid of Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” and a garage blues turnaround. It is beyond delightful.

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“Third Degree,” a cover of blues piano legend Eddie Boyd’s tune (co-written by Willie Dixon), flaunts the mesmerizing playing and vocals of Joe Bonamassa (a noted favorite of BluesRockReview.com). By dragging a spooky, heavier than heavy riff across an honored Chicago groove, and cutting loose on intimidating duels, West and Bonamassa provide an answer to those who have ever wondered what it would have sounded like if Muddy Waters were 10 feet tall and on steroids.

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“Nothin’s Changed” proves West’s prominent influence on modern playing. Zakk Wylde, the MVP of the metal scene, flashes his impeccably meaty chops. Wylde has always been vocal about his influences, but here you can downright hear it. West’s bottom-heavy tone is an evident predecessor of Wylde’s metal-savvy tone. As West and Wylde fire playful thunderbolts at each other, the true fun is hearing how much fun they are having. It sounds as if a lifelong master guitarist and his novice are finally able to out-duel each other with a wink and a nod. The last notable team effort is a cover of Willie Nelson’s “The Party’s Over.” This beer and whiskey guzzling tune features two of the best beer and whiskey guzzlers on the guitar scene: Slash and Zakk Wylde. Driven by down-home acoustic playing, cutting solos, and simple percussion/clapping, “The Party’s Over” proves that “heavy” isn’t loud; “heavy” is passion and attitude.

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It is worth mentioning that West’s cover of the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” may seem like an odd addition, but it is presented as a fast, hip-shaking, boogie. The intro calls to mind “Satch Boogie” by Joe Satriani. Much of the pop gloss of the original is stripped by West’s ability to beef up the main themes, thus transforming the track into a bouncy version of the Mountain classic “Mississippi Queen.”

Upon hearing of Unusual Suspects, I was thrilled. I knew the music would be great, and I knew that I would love hearing the collaborations between West and some of the greatest American-influenced rock players of the century, but I was most excited that West has yet another shot at becoming a widely respected name like “Clapton” or “Van Halen.”

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Still, with all of the respect and admiration of the guitar playing on this album, West never asks his guests to bow to him. They are there because West clearly respects them by trusting them to help his songs and by giving them their moment. The album comes full circle by the end as you realize that all of the talent, influence, mutual respect, and fun you just witnessed is the tangled behemoth that is Leslie West’s Unusual Suspects. (by Jason Bank)

And I included the great booklet … over 50 pages … with a story about Leslie West, written by Dave Ling from the Classic Rock Magazin)

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Personnel:
Kenny Aronoff (drums, percussion)
Fabrizio Grossi (bass)
Phil Parlapiano (keyboards)
Leslie West (guitar, vocals)
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Joe Bonamassa (guitar, vocals on 05.)
Billy Gibbons (guitar on 04.)
Steve Lukather (guitar on 01.)
Slash (guitar on 02. + 11.)
Zakk Wylde (guitar on 07. + 11.)

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Tracklist:
01. One More Drink for the Road (Pizza/West) 3.14
02. Mudflap Momma (Pizza/West) 3.07
03. To the Moon (Bronham/West) 4.51
04. Standing on Higher Ground (Gibbons/Grossi/West) 4.27
05. Third Degree (Boyd/Dixon) 5.11
06. Legend (Pizza) 4.45
07. Nothin’s Changed (Pizza/West) 3.54
08. I Feel Fine (Lennon/McCartney) 2.57
09. Love You Forever (Pizza/West) 5.06
10. My Gravity (Tiven/West) 4.23
11. The Party’s Over (Nelson) 3.21
12. I Don’t Know (The Beetlejuice Song) (Christy/Green/West) 2.34

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Various Artists – Who Are You – An All-Star Tribute To The Who (2012)

FrontCover1.jpgStars of Progressive Rock, Classic Rock, Punk Rock, and Country gather together to pay tribute to one of the most successful and influential bands of all-time, The Who!

I have been a great fan of The Who for about 50 years so I was a bit hesitant to buy this tribute album as some of these type of records can be very ordinary, but this is a great one. Most songs are pretty faithful to the original songs while obviously stamping the guest artists own sound and style on them, with a 2 or 3 of horrendous exceptions (I won’t say which, you be the judge). And I reckon Leslie West’s guitar on The Seeker is worth the price alone. An enjoyable listen. One issue though – Don’t know what happened on, if I recall correctly, Eminence Front, the music just cuts out before the end unfortunately as this is a great song. An error in production no doubt that should never have made the final product. (by Mr. M)

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Who would have thought that Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits) and Peter Banks (Yes, Flash) would render a performance of Magic Bush nearly equal to the original. Todd Rundgren and Iggy Pop fans need this album ! (by Brent W. Cook)

Indeed … a real unique tribute album for one of the most important bands in the history of rock … look at the line-up … unbelieveable …

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Personnel:
See booklet

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Tracklist:

Derek Sherinian, John Wetton, K. K. Downing:
01. Eminence Front 5.32

Nektar & Jerry Goodman:
02. Baba O’Riley 5.23

Mark Lindsay & Wayne Kramer:
03. I Can See For Miles 4.07

Huw Lloyd-Langton, Joe Elliott, Rick Wakeman:
04. Love Reign O’er Me 6.17

Dave Davies, Knox & Rat Scabies:
05. My Generation 3.29

The Raveonettes:
06. The Kids Are Alright 2.32

Sweet:
07. Won’t Get Fooled Again 7.41

Carmine Appice & Todd Rundgren:
08. Anyway Anyhow Anywhere 2.38

Iggy Pop:
09. I Can’t Explain 2.07

Pat Travers:
10. Behind Blue Eyes 3.43

Ginger Baker, Peter Banks & Peter Noone:
11. Magic Bus 3.20

Gretchen Wilson, Randy Bachman:
12. Who Are You 5.05

Brad Gillis, Mike Pinera, Terry Reid:
13. Pinball Wizard 3.03

David Cross, John Wesley:
14. Squeeze Box 2.49

38 Special, Ian Paice & Ted Turner:
15. Bargain 5.24

Joe Lynn Turner & Leslie West:
16. The Seeker 2.43

All songs written by Pete Townshend

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Various Artists – A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors – Light My Fire (2014)

FrontCover1.jpgSouthern California-based Purple Pyramid Records and producer, instrumentalist Billy Sherwood raised the bar with this tribute to The Doors by convening a star-studded cast, featuring classic rockers performing with progressive rock luminaries. And the jazz contingent is onboard, evidenced by jazz guitar great Larry Coryell appearing with Focus keyboardist Thijs Van Leer on “Love Me Two Times.”

When I first broke the seal on this recording and perused the personnel listing I was delighted yet partly suspicious, fearing this would be an unbalanced project and/or a riffing contest framed on The Doors songbook. Such is not the case. Thus, Todd Rundgren performing alongside Captain Beeheart Magic Band guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo and Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes signify one of many rather unlikely, yet markedly productive and enticing state of affairs. It’s a varied set, where all the vocalists retain their signature chops and modus operandi. Although one unremitting factor is centered on their penchant for extracting the force-field of The Doors’ vocalist Jim Morrison’s commanding delivery.

The production’s stunning sound quality yields additional bonus points and should warm the hearts of audiophiles. Ultimately, each rendition of The Doors’ songbook is imbued with the musicians’ idiosyncratic niceties amid a plethora of shrewdly placed dynamics, layered keys and guitar shadings. They inject distinct characteristics but don’t sacrifice The Doors’ core song-forms. Hence, disparate musical personalities uncannily attain an accord on many fronts by imparting a sense of ownership and camaraderie, whether or not they were recording tracks in the same studio at the same time.

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It’s easy to discern that Sherwood and associates maximized the talents and style of each artist’s strengths, juxtaposed by strong soloing spots and the obligatory personal touches that many of us would anticipate. Van Leer helps give “Love Me Two Times ” a modern uplift by instilling some good old Hammond-B3 organ style boogie rock, abetted by Coryell’s Texas blues patterns and hard rock phrasings. Moreover, guitar hero Leslie West (Mountain) does what he does best via his emphatically thick vocals, coupled with sinuous slide guitar leads atop Rod Piazza’s harmonica notes, as they punch it out on this husky finger-snapping spin on “Roadhouse Blues.”

Tony Kaye (Yes) uses a synth emulated electric piano sound during “Riders On The Storm” and Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) preludes “People Are Strange” with stride piano clusters and synths alongside time-honored session ace, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s deft acoustic guitar work. Yet rockabilly vocalist Robert Gordon croons through “Touch Me” with the resonance and machismo of Morrison, complemented by pumping rhythms and Nik Turner’s (Hawkwind) swirling sax notes and prog rock keyboard great Jordan Rudess’ spiraling notes. Whereas, Rundgren tenders a pop-ish and clement outlook on The Doors’ swaggering and bluesy torch piece “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar).

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Highlights are thriving components, especially when infamous Yes alumni, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman delve into an extended call and response motif, spanning rock, jazz and classical nuances in the bridge section of “Light My Fire.” Here, Ian Gillan provides the antithesis of what we’d expect, considering his high-impact vocals with Deep Purple, as he counterbalances the soloists with a care-free and straightforward rendering of the familiar choruses. Indeed, this tribute endeavor covers all the bases and then some. It’s not to be overlooked. Kudos to the production team for bestowing their rather enlightening plan of attack as it’s quite apparent that a lot of thought prefaced the onset of this astonishing alignment of rock’s past and present rock stars. (by Glen Astarita)

First off readers let me say that I do not like cover bands, cover albums, tribute albums and compilation albums. I have always felt they should be considered a separate genre and that they usually do a disservice to the original composers and bands. After listening to “A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors” though I am rethinking those thoughts. It is hard to cover every song here, there are 16 of their greatest hits, so I will try to give an over view of what I think is important. I will leave the final decision up to you as to how good it really is after you listen to it.

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I was fortunate enough to see ‘The Doors’, 3 times, once at Cobo Hall in Detroit. They were a very unassuming band with almost no equipment. They used no special effects, fireworks, light shows or anything other than themselves, a few instruments and only a couple amps and speakers. The stage was pretty empty even by the standards of the 1960’s. What they lacked in equipment they made up by how tight and cohesive they were as a group when they were all in sync with each other and halfway sober. Jim Morrison usually took all eyes off the other 3 members but make no mistake that without them Jim Morrison would probably have become another undiscovered rock star.

Several of the guests on this album most likely knew ‘The Doors’ back in the day and are by all rights are ‘Superstars’ themselves. More than 42 of rock’s greatest classic ‘Superstars’ showed up to play on this album. That’s a lot of “tribute” to any person or group and shows the love and respect they all had for ‘The Doors’ and their music. By my count there are at least 7 tribute albums out there for ‘The Doors’ but from where I sit this is probably the only one that should matter.

The album starts off with one of my favorites, ‘LA Woman’. From their 6th, album released in 1971, ‘LA Woman’. Jami Jamison, Ted Turner and Patrick Moraz do an admirable job of covering this tune. The guitar work, Ted Turner I am assuming, gives an old favorite a different twist.

I could go into much more detail on more songs off this album but since space is limited I will just give some observations here. This is certainly an album to help introduce anyone who has never heard ‘The Doors’ before to their greatness. After listening to it I guarantee they will hunger for the original music just to hear who these 4 guys, who cut out a slice of rock history for themselves, really were.

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The guitar work on every song is clean, precise and shredded, something that Robby Kriegers “fingerstyle” guitar playing did not allow him to do. Not that Robby Krieger wasn’t great, he was just not as technical since “fingerstyle“ playing is better suited to Flamenco and Folk Music. It’s probably the most notable difference in all of the tunes here.

Conspicuous by its absence here though is ‘The Unknown Soldier’ which could have easily replaced the version of ‘People Are Strange’ with David Johansen and Billy Sherwood. This is the only song I really felt did not belong among the 16 cuts on this album.

The closing song is my all time favorite and appropriately is, ‘The End’, featuring Pat Travers and Jimmy Greenspoon. Listening to this version gave me goose bumps and almost brought tears to my eyes. The depth is so different but not nearly as dark as the original. I think you’ll find yourself listening to it over and over again! (Mike Langford)

One of the finest tribute albums ever !

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Personnel:

Jimi Jamison: vocals (1); Patrick Moraz: keyboards (1); Ted Turner: guitars (1); Scott Connor: drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16); Billy Sherwood: bass (all tracks), guitar, piano, synths (8), drums, keyboards (12); Lou Gramm: vocals (2); Thijs Van Leer: keyboards (2); Larry Coryell: guitar (2); Leslie West: guitar, vocals (3); Brian Augur: Hammond B-3 organ (3); Rod Piazza: harmonica (3); Mark Stein: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (4); Mick Box: guitar (4); Joe Lynn Turner: vocals (5); Tony Kaye: Hammond B-3 organ (5); Steve Cropper: guitar (5); Edgar Winter: vocals (6); Chris Spedding: guitar (6); Keith Emerson: acoustic 7 ft. grand piano and original Moog, modular synthesizer (7); Jeff “Skunk” Baxter: acoustic guitar (7); Joel Druckman: acoustic upright bass (7); David Johansen: vocals (8); Robert Gordon: vocals (9); Jordan Rudess: keyboards (9); Steve Morse: guitar (9); Nik Turner: saxophone (9); Adam Hamilton: drums (9); Graham Bonnet: vocals (10); Christopher North: Hammond organ & Leslie (10); Steve Hillage: guitar (10); Ken Hensley: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (11); Roye Albrighton: guitar (11); Eric Martin: vocals (12); Elliot Easton: lead and Spanish guitars (12); Todd Rundgren: vocals (13); Geoff Downes: keyboards (13); Zoot Horn Rollo: guitars (13); Mark Farner: vocals, guitar (14); Chick Churchill: keyboards (14); Glenn Grossman: drums (14); Ian Gillian: vocal (15); Rick Wakeman: keyboards (15); Steve Howe: guitar (15); Ricky Joyce: drums (15); Pat Travers: vocals, guitar (16); Jimmy Greenspan: keyboards (16).

For details see booklet

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Tracklist:
01. Jimi Jamison, Ted Turner, Patrick Moraz: L.A. Woman 7.28
02. Lou Gramm, Thijs van Leer, Larry Coryell: Love Me Two Times 3.21
03. Leslie West, Brian Auger, Rod Piazza: Roadhouse Blues 4.06
04. Mark Stein, Mick Box: Love Her Madly 3.26
05. Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Kaye, Steve Cropper: Riders On The Storm 6.19
06. Edgar Winter, Chris Spedding: The Crystal Ship 2.44
07. Keith Emerson, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Joel Druckman: Intro (People Are Strange) 3.58
08. David Johansen, Billy Sherwood: People Are Strange 2.21
09. Robert Gordon, Jordan Rudess, Steve Morse, Nik Turner: Touch Me 3.49
10. Graham Bonnet, Christopher North, Steve Hillage: The Soft Parade 8.04
11. Ken Hensley, Roye Albrighton: Hello, I Love You 2.39
12. Eric Martin, Elliot Easton: Spanish Caravan 2.54
13. Todd Rundgren, Geoff Downes, Wake: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) 3.26
14. Mark Farner, Chick Churchill: Break On Through (To the Other Side) 2.51
15. Ian Gillan, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe: Light My Fire 7.00
16. Pat Travers, Jimmy Greenspoon: The End 11.23

All songs written by Jim Morrison – John Densmore – Ray Manzarek – Robby Krieger
except:
06.: written by Jim Morrison &
13.: written by Kurt Weil – Bertolt Brecht

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Leslie West – Mountain (1969)

FrontCover1Leslie West (born Leslie Weinstein; October 22, 1945) is an American rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is best known as a founding member of the hard rock band Mountain.

West was born in New York City, to a Jewish family. He grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey, and in East Meadow, New York, Forest Hills, New York and Lawrence, New York. After his parents divorced, he changed his surname to West. His musical career began with The Vagrants, an R&B/Blue-eyed soul-rock band influenced by the likes of The Rascals that was one of the few teenage garage rock acts to come out of the New York metropolitan area itself (as opposed to the Bohemian Greenwich Village scene of artists, poets and affiliates of the Beat Generation, which produced bands like The Fugs and The Velvet Underground). The Vagrants had two minor hits in the Eastern US: 1966’s “I Can’t Make a Friend” and a cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” the following year.

Some of the Vagrants’ recordings were produced by Felix Pappalardi, who was also working with Cream on their album Disraeli Gears. In 1969, West and Pappalardi formed LeslieWest1968the pioneering hard rock act Mountain, which was also the title of West’s debut solo album. Rolling Stone identified the band as a “louder version of Cream”. With Steve Knight on keyboards and original drummer N. D. Smart, the band appeared on the second day of the Woodstock Festival on Saturday, August 16, 1969 starting an 11-song set at 9 pm. (by wikipedia)

And here´s the first solo-album, called “Mountain”:

Frequently classified as the first album by the group Mountain, which was named after it, Leslie West’s initial solo album featured bass/keyboard player Felix Pappalardi, who also produced it and co-wrote eight of its 11 songs, and drummer N.D. Smart II. (This trio did, indeed, tour under the name Mountain shortly after the album’s release, even performing at Woodstock, though Smart was replaced by Corky Laing and Steve Knight was added as keyboard player for the formal recording debut of the group, Mountain Climbing!, released in February 1970.) Pappalardi had been Cream’s producer, and that power trio, as well as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, were the models for this rock set, which was dominated by West’s throaty roar of a voice and inventive blues-rock guitar playing. Though West had led the Vagrants for years and cut a handful of singles with them, this was his first album release, and it made for an auspicious debut, instantly establishing him as a guitar hero and setting the style of Mountain’s subsequent recordings. /by by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Felix Pappalardi (bass, keyboards)
N.D. Smart II (drums)
Leslie West (guitar, vocals)
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Norman Landsberg (organ on 02., 07. + 10.)

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Tracklist:
01. Blood Of The Sun (Pappalardi/Collins/West) 2.38
02. Long Red (Pappalardi/Ventura/West/Landsberg) 3.19
03. Better Watch Out (Pappalardi/Collins) 2.51
04. Blind Man (Pappalardi/Collins/Ventura/West) 3.56
05. Baby, I’m Down (Pappalardi/Collins) 4.05
06. Dreams Of Milk & Honey (Pappalardi/Ventura/West/Landsberg) 3.37
07. Storyteller Man (Pappalardi/Ventura/West/Landsberg) 3.08
08. This Wheel’s On Fire (Dylan/Danko) 3.22
09. Look To The Wind (Pappalardi/Ventura/West) 2.46
10. Southbound Train (Ventura/West/Landsberg) 3.02
11. Because You Are My Friend (West) 3.13

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My copy of this was autographed by Leslie West, I meet him a few years earlier in Munich/Germany

Various Artists – Night Of The Guitar – Live ! (1989)

FrontCover1.JPGAt the end of the 80s, the music scene was dominated as much in Europe as in the rest of the world, by mass phenomena that fought for first place in record sales. The lovelies Rick Astley, Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Wet Wet Wet, Kylie Minogue jostled for the supersale throne with some groups – with guitar in hand- that defended rock licks, distortion and delays: Guns ‘n’ Roses, Def Leppard, U2, or Metallica were writing their own legends.

In those years, an event that went almost unnoticed brought together nine guitarists for seven gigs in Great Britain (from 20-26 of Nov., 1988) and peaked with a brief tour of Europe. You can hardly find any news about it on the Web and it was finally left to posterity on a double live record and a handful of videos. Guitars Exchange was there.

Before a wall of Marshall screens, getting on and off stage, alternating turns for 3 hours, were Steve Howe (Yes, Asia), Leslie West (Mountain), Robby Krieger (The Doors), Randy California (Spirit), Steve Hunter (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel), Pete Haycock (Climax Blues Band), Andy Powell and Ted Turner (Wishbone Ash), and Alvin Lee (Ten Years After). The ‘nine axes’ enjoyed a rhythm section that clearly met expectations: Clive Mayuyu (drums), Derek Holt (bass and voice), Livingstone Browne (bass and keyboards) and Chris Bucknall (keyboards).

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The initiative all came from the record label I.R.S. No Speak, founded at the beginning of 1988 by Miles Copeland III, master of ceremonies of the night of the guitar and brother of Stewart Copeland (The Police drummer, who also took part as invited guest on the final number that closes the record). Copeland’s aim was none other than to shine light on instrumental rock in the hands of excellent musicians, giving them shelter on a record label devoted exclusively to his production. Somehow you had to protect yourself in a storm of disco, punk, New age. It was an ambitious purpose, musically valid, although financially risky: the label closed after 3 years with just 19 records produced.

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Night of the Guitar – Live! was perhaps the shining moment of the adventure. Pete Haycock’s semi-acoustic Höfner and Steve Hunter’s electric Neal Moser open the record with three numbers, Dr. Brown I Presume (Brown’s notable bass solo), The Idler and Lucienne. Three pieces on records both guitarists released the same year: Guitar and Son and The Deacon respectively. It’s a mixture of rock fusion that culminates in the delicate ballad (3rd track), passing through rock that hides a feeling of urban jazz in Hunter’s piece. He authored unforgettable bits of the soundtracks of our lives: such as the introduction to Lou Reed’s Sweet Jane or the acoustic on Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel, to name a couple.

To electrify the air after the ballad, we turn to Randy California and his Charvel, a brand of guitar made popular that decade thanks to high-end guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads and Richie Sambora, among others. After Groove Thing, a brilliant intro replete with harmonies hammered out on the neck, Randy takes charge on a version of Hey Joe in a powerful tribute to his friend and colleague Jimi Hendrix, with whom he shared venues in New York nightclubs in 1966. This was during the militant times of Jimmy James & The Blue Flames, and before the worldwide success of the lefty, before he became known as Jimi.

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The fortunate fans were already set to welcome who was probably the most anticipated name on the ticket: Robby Krieger and his Gibson ES-355 from 1964- his favourite at that point in his life, the 80s, when he searched for more of a jazz sound- definitely brought the house down with a version of Love Me Two Times (The Doors, 1967) with a much ‘fuller’ guitar than the original.

And who better than Ted Turner and Andy Powell to re-establish order in the house? The bi-cylindrical engine of the Wishbone Ash, in perfect synchrony, unsheathed in a version of his classic from 1972 The King Will Come, where Turner’s fabulous Paul Reed Smith (the American brand had been making their gems for hardly 3 years) and the ‘classic’ Gibson Flyin’ V of his mate bring this guitar dialogue to life with an unbeatable connection.

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It was now Leslie ‘the mountain’ West´s turn and his Steinberger, which in his hands looks like a toy. He was in top form, for sure. The two pieces that appear on the record are classics from the Mountain album Climbing! in 1970: a very personalised version of Theme From An Imaginary Western by Jack Bruce and Never In My Life.

Then, once again, after the storm came the calm, from the hands of Steve Howe and his Martin 00-18. A master class of guitar technique on Clap Medley, the only acoustic number of the night without accompaniment. Then time to switch the Martin for a Gibson ES-175 (his main guitar during the militant years of Yes) and in the company of Pete Haycock, start up Würm, a 1971 classic from the English progressive rock band.

Alvin Lee and his Tokai Signature take over in the final stretch with a powerful instrumental No Limit, in probably one of the best moments of the album. With a hard version of Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’ together with all his mates on stage, nine ‘axes’ for an unforgettable cover of the Dylan classic All Along The Watchtower, and a final medley of the great hits, Whole Lotta Shakin’, Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Johnny B. Goode, Rock & Roll Music and Bye Bye Johnny Bye Bye. A display of skill and real passion for our favourite instrument, genuine fireworks fit to mess up any Rick Astley who gets in the way…

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It was an unforgettable night. A night in which nine guardians of the guitar, nine rock gods, got together to reclaim -at the end of the 80s- a gender that they themselves made so very big and continues to be. (by Massimo D’Angelo)

And I was a very lucky guy … ´cause I saw all these guys during their shot Europena tour in Munich (feat. Jan Akkerman on guitar) … It was one of the best concerts I´ve ever saw !

And the wind beginns to howl … 

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Personnel:

On guitar:
Alvin Lee – Andy Powell – Leslie West – Pete Haycock – Randy California – Robby Krieger –  Steve Howe – Steve Hunter – Ted Turner
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Livingstone Brown (bass, keyboards)
Chris Bucknell (keyboards)
Derek Holt (bass, vocals on 08.)
Clive Mayuyu (drums)

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Tracklist:

Pete Haycock:
01. Dr. Brown I Presume (Haycock) 5.03

Steve Hunter & Pete Haycock:
02. The Idler (Hunter) 5.35
03. Lucienne (Haycock) 5.55

Randy California & Steve Hunter:
04. Groove Thing (California) 4.43

Randy California:
05. Hey Joe (Roberts) 5.01

Robby Krieger & Steve Hunter:
06. Love Me Two Times (Krieger/Morrison/Densmore/Manzarek) 4.58

Ted Turner &Andy Powell:
07. The King Will Come (M.Turner/Upton/T.Turner/Powell) 7.01

Leslie West:
08. Theme From An Imaginary Western (Bruce/Brown) 5.11
09. Never In My Life (Collins/Lang/Pappalardi/West) 5.07

Steve Howe:
10. Clap Medley (Howe) 5.55

Steve Howe & Pete Haycock;
11. Wurm (Howe) 4.08

Alvin Lee;
12. No Limit (Lee/Hubbard) 4.37
13. Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’ (Colacrai/Fontane/Gluck/Lambert) 5.37

Steve Howe, Andy Powell, Randy California, Pete Haycock & Robby Krieger:
14. All Along The Watchtower (Dylan) 7.17

Alvin Lee, Leslie West, Ted Turner & Steve Hunter:
15. Rock N Roll Medley 8.39
15.1. Whole Lotta Shakin’ (Williams)
15.2. Dizzy Miss Lizzie (Williams)
15.3. Johnny B. Goode (Berry)
15.4. Rock & Roll Music (Berry)
15.5. Bye Bye Johnny Bye Bye (Berry)

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Leslie West – Soundcheck (2015)

FrontCover1Soundcheck is the sixteenth solo album by legendary rock guitarist Leslie West. It follows 2011’s critically acclaimed Unusual Suspects, which featured contributions from such accomplished guitarists and close friends as Billy Gibbons, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather and Joe Bonamassa, and 2013’s Still Climbing, which included blistering duets with the late, great Johnny Winter, Jonny Lang and Mark Tremonti.

For this new release, Leslie lays down some of his most inspired musical magic to date with the assistance of true rock royalty: the renown British guitarists Peter Frampton and Brian May, ex-Jeff Beck keyboard virtuoso Max Middleton, vocalist extraordinaire Bonnie Bramlett and the late great Cream bassist and longtime friend of Leslie’s, Jack Bruce. Back in 1972, Leslie made musical history with Jack when they joined forces to form the super group West, Bruce and Laing. Soundcheck is co-produced and engineered by West’s collaborator Mike “Metal” Goldberg, who he shared, “helped me get my sound down on ‘Tape’ as they used to say, and did an amazing job as he always does.”

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Leslie West (born Leslie Weinstein, October 22, 1945) first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 as the guitarist and singer in the groundbreaking rock band Mountain. West’s wholly unique sound, distinguished by beautifully melodic phrasing, his slow, wide vibrato, and a crushing guitar tone set the standard in the late sixties and early seventies for blues/rock guitar playing of the highest order. Along with the hugely influential Top Ten hit “Mississippi Queen,” Leslie’s brilliant guitar work serves as the driving force behind the Mountain classics, “Nantucket Sleighride,” “Never In My Life,” “Don’t Look Around,” “Blood of the Sun,” “Dreams of Milk and Honey,” and the incredible Jack Bruce composition, “Theme For an Imaginary Western.”

That one-of-a-kind signature guitar sound propels Soundcheck throughout, evidenced by such powerful tracks as, “Left By The Roadside to Die,” “Here For the Party,” “Empty Promises–Nothing Sacred,” “Going Down,” “Spoonful,” “A Stern Warning” and five other Leslie West03stellar songs. “I wanted to surprise myself with this record,” Leslie discloses. “On that very first track, ‘Left By The Roadside to Die,’ I initially played the synthesizer part on the guitar, but I thought it would be really cool to start the record with a sound other than the guitar. I decided to have my keyboard player David Biglin come in and re-do it with the synth. That synth part provides a great groove, which enables me to first come in with the acoustic guitar and then bring in the heavier electric guitars right at the second verse. Another twist is that I add some acoustic slide guitar on the track, with the guitar in a really unusual open D tuning. All of the strings are tuned to either a D or an A note-no thirds in any of the chords.” For the solo, Leslie lays down a blistering slide guitar solo that burns with the power and precision that has earned him the respect and admiration of multiple generations of guitar players.

Included among Leslie’s many fans and disciples are six-string luminaries such as Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, John McLaughlin, Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre, Warren Haynes, and Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple. Blackmore has stated that Leslie’s phenomenal playing on “Mississippi Queen” served to redirect the course of Deep Purple’s music in an instant, ultimately resulting in the brutal hard rock intensity displayed on Deep Purple In Rock. “I’ve always really loved Leslie West’s playing,” says Blackmore. “I remember being in a place in Germany, and Ian[Paice, DP drummer] and I were out drinking together. In those days, you could go to a club and listen to the new records in their entirety that had just come out. Paice and I heard, ‘Mississippi Queen,’ and we both went white! We were thinking, ‘Who the hell is that?!’ It had such a big sound! For three guys, it was incredibly heavy. And Leslie’s vibrato is just great. Hearing Mountain directly influenced the direction of the Purple, and you can hear that influence on what was to become our next record, [1970’s], In Rock. At the time, we were trying to find our way as a band, some sort of ‘category.’ Jon [Lord, the late DP keyboardist] was into the classical stuff, and, although I love classical music, I wanted to follow up the Deep Purple album, the last one with the original line-up, with something much heavier, out-and-out rock. And that’s how In Rock came about.”

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For Martin Barre, meeting Leslie in 1970 served to inspire the writing and playing on Jethro Tull’s most successful album in the band’s history, Aqualung. “Prior to going into the studio to record [1971’s] Aqualung, I met Leslie, whose playing I absolutely loved,” Barre reveals. “Leslie is well known for his association with Les Paul Juniors, and just after meeting him, I picked up a 1958 Junior because his sound was so incredible. I would say that he’s the only guitarist who has ever influenced me directly.”

Leslie was also influential in the development of the music for The Who’s masterpiece, Who’s Next. In early 1971, he was invited to record with the Who for the band’s initial NYC Record Plant sessions for the album, which sparked a close friendship with The Who’s leader, Pete Townshend. Says Pete, “Leslie gave me a really great Les Paul Junior with one pickup on it for me to use on Who’s Next, and Eric Clapton gave me an old Strat. They both gave me really good instruments and I still have those instruments today. Along with my Gretsch Chet Atkins, those three guitars were the only ones I used on Who’s Next.”

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Another fan of Leslie’s was none other than Jimi Hendrix, with whom Leslie jammed at famed NYC clubs like Ungano’s and elsewhere. “I first met Jimi while I was recording Climbing! at the Record Plant and he was in another room mixing Band of Gypsys,” Leslie recalls. “Jimi came in and after hearing the first track, ‘Never in My Life’ he looked over at me and said, ‘That’s a great riff, man.’ I started shaking! There’s a great picture of us playing together at Ungano’s, and Jimi’s playing Felix [Pappalardi’s] bass. Getting to know and play with Hendrix is one of my greatest life experiences.”

Closing out his new album “Soundcheck”, is a treasure for all longtime fans of Leslie West: a live version of Willie Dixon’s, “Spoonful,” recorded with Jack Bruce on bass and vocals and Joe Franco on drums, played in the classic Cream style as captured on 1968’s Wheels of Fire. “Back in 1988, I recorded an album called, Theme, which featured Jack on bass. We recorded at Millbrook in upstate New York, and the owner of The Chance in Poughkeepsie called and asked if we wanted to come over and do a set there, with no advertising, no nothing. Jack was into it, and the engineer at Millbrook, Paul Orofino, came with us and recorded the gig with a small portable stereo machine. “After hearing of Jack’s passing, we edited it down from its original length and decided it would be great to include on the record. As you can hear, I was trying to reincarnate myself into Eric Clapton! The first time I listened to Jack’s voice and the tone of his bass on the recording, I had tears in my eyes. I loved Jack so much.”

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Leslie is looking to close out 2015 and kick off 2016 with major touring in the states and in Europe, performing a combination of his time-honored classics plus the material from Soundcheck. “I’m so happy with the sound of this new record,” Leslie affirms. “The guitar sound we captured is fantastic, and my voice is feeling better than ever.” (by bluesmagazine.nl)

What a hell of a record … another hightlight in the long career of the one and only … Leslie West !

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Personnel:
Dave Biglin (keyboards, guitar on 04. + 09., strings on 04.)
Mike “Metal” Goldberg (drums, percussion)
Rev Jones (bass)
Leslie West (guitar, vocals)
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Bonnie Bramlett (vocals on 08.)
Jack Bruce (bass, vocals on 11.)
Elaine Caswell (background vocals on 05.)
Martin Ditcham (drums on 08.)
Peter Frampton (guitar on 04.)
Joe Franco (drums on 11.)
David Hood (bass on 08.)
Brian May (guitar on 08.)
Max Middleton (piano on 08.)
Ariela Pizza (vocals on 09.)
Bobby Whitlock (organ on 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Left By The Roadside To Die (J.West/L.West) 4.08
02. Give Me One Reason (Chapman) 4.04
03. Here For The Party (Kenny/Wilson/Rich) 4.00
04. You Are My Sunshine (Davis) 3.49
05. Empty Promises / Nothin’ Sacred (J.West/L.West) 3.46
06. A Stern Warning (L.West) 4.15
07. People Get Ready (Mayfield/Kahne/Miller) 3.08
08. Going Down (Nix) 4.16
09. Stand By Me (King/Leiber/Stoller) 2.56
10. Eleanor Rigby (Lennon/McCartney) 1.35
11. Spoonful (Dixon) 8.16 (*)

(*) Recorded live at The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY in 1988.

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I include a very intensive interview, not only about this album, but about his career … including really crazy stories about Noel Redding, who played with Leslie for a year.

Various Artists – The Many Faces Of The Rolling Stones (2015)

FrontCover1This is a great sampler from Mexico !

The Rolling Stones have become the reincarnation of rock itself, being the representation, both musically and in terms of image and behavior, what rock & roll represents. In The Many Faces Of The Rolling Stones, we will highlight their side-projects, their roots, their favorite songs and even a brand new song, which becomes and event in itself, for all the Stones’ fans around the world. The idea sounds wonderful right?. Well, The Many Faces Of The Rolling Stones will meet the expectations of even the most demanding Stones fan. We have a lost recording by Leslie West (Mountain’s guitarist) with Mick Jagger playing guitar, a duet by Keith Richards with Ian McLagan (Faces’ keyboardist), and also the hard-to-find single versions of Bill Wyman’s solo hits.

Also we have Mick Jagger and Keith Richards all time favorite songs (handpicked by themselves), and an extremely rare track titled Catch As Catch Can, that was released only in a limited edition in France as a 7″ and never previously available on CD single, by musician and producer Robin Millar (Eric Clapton, Peter Gabriel, Sade) recorded in 1973 along with Mick Taylor, Bobby Keys and Mick Jagger!!!.

Finally, we have the originals versions of the best songs the Stones covered during his long and illustrious career. This is a marvelous project that with remastered sound, beautiful cover art extended liner notes is an essential addition to your collection. (promo text)

Yes, yes, yes … a real great and intersting Project … Listen and discover the many faces of The Rolling Stones !
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Tracklist:

CD 1:
The Adventures Of The Stones:
01. Leslie West feat. Mick Jagger:High Roller (Jagger/Richards/Laing/Palmer) 4.13
02. Ron Wood & Ian McLagan: She Stole It (McLagan) 3.45
03. Bill Wyman: Monkey Grip (single edition) (Wyman) 3.17
04. Ian McLagan & Keith Richards: Truly (McLagan) 5.58
05. Toots & The Maytals feat. Keith Richards:- Careless Ethiopians (Hibbert) 3.22
06. Ron Wood & The Jones Gang: Had Me A Real Good Time (Lane/Wood) 4.45
07. Ian McLagan feat. Bobby Keys: Somebody (McLagan) 3.00
08 .British Invasion All-Stars feat. Dick Taylor: Gimme Some Loving (Winwood) 4.15
09. Bill  Wyman: (Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star (single edit) (Wyman) 3.23
10. Robin Millar feat. Mick Taylor, Nicky Hopkins & Bobby Keys: Catch As Catch Can (Millar)  3.33
11. John Phillips feat. Mick Jagger, Mick Taylor & Keith Richards:- Zulu Warrior (Phillips/Jagger) 3.30
12. Ron Wood & The Jones Gang: Stay With Me (Wood/Stewart) 5.09
13. Chris Farlowe produced by Mick Jagger: Out Of Time (Jagger/Richards) 3.15
14. Johnny Winter: Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Jagger/Richards) 4.42
CD 2:
Mick & Keith’s Favourite Tracks:
01. Little Walter: I Go To Go (Walter)  2.41
02. Muddy Waters: Forty Days And Forty Nights (Roth) 2.50
03. Robert Johnson: Stones In My Passway (Johnson) 2.28
04. Ray Charles: Lonely Avenue (Pomus) 2.34
05. Z.Z. Hill: Everybody Knows About My Good Thing (Grayson /Horton) 4.57
06. Blind Willie Johnson: Dark Was The Night (Cold Was The Ground) (Johnson) 3.20
07. Howlin’ Wolf: Forty Four (Burnett) 2.48
08. Jesse Fuller: Stagolee (Traditional) 3.44
09. Bill Broonzy: When Did You Leave Heaven (Bullock/Whiting) 3.29
10. Elmore James:- It Hurts Me Too (Red/James/London)  3.19
11. Little Walter: Key To The Highway (Segar) 2.45
12. Erna Franklin: Piece Of My Heart (Ragovoy/Berns) 2.38
13. Chuck Berry: Memphis (Berry) 2.14
14. Robert Johnson: 32-20 Blues (Johnson) 2.52
CD 3:
The  Originals:
01. Chuck Berry: Around And Around (Berry) 2.40
02. Larry Williams: She Said Yeah (Jackson/Williams) 1.50
03. Nat King Cole Trio: Route  66 (Troup) 3.01
04. Muddy Waters:  Just Want To Make Love To You (Dixon) 2.51
05. Howlin’ Wolf: Little Red Rooster (Burnett/Dixon) 2.26
06. Buddy Holly: Not Fade Away (Holly/Petty) 2.23
07. Jimmy  Reed: Honest I Do (Reed/Abner) 2.42
08. Dale Hawkins: Suzie Q (Hawkins/Lewis/Broadwater)  2.19
09. The Coasters: Poison Ivy (Leiber/Stoller) 2.42
10. Jim Harpo: I’m A King Bee (Harpo) 3.04
11. Robertt Johnson: Love In Vain (Johnson) 3.20
12. Bo Diddley: Mona (McDaniel) 3.39
13. Gene Allison: You Can Make It If You Try (Jarrett) 2.09
14. Eric Donaldson: Cherry Oh, Baby (Donaldson) 3.07
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