Sunday, August 27, 2017

Secrets (1989, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

This is another terrific album in Allan Holdsworth's masterful repertoire, and one that strikes a nice balance between guitar- and Synthaxe-based compositions.

The Synthaxe tunes are elegant, both in terms of tone and structure, and the guitar tracks feature Holdsworth's typically virtuosic and otherworldly solos.

In addition to the excellent instrumentals, the album includes two vocal songs, the best of which is easily "Endomorph," sung by Craig Copeland and exhibiting one of Holdsworth's most searing, searching, and incisive guitar performances. It is among Holdsworth's finest material.

It's no secret that Allan Holdsworth stands apart in terms of his artistic vision and technical execution, and Secrets is a prime example of his creative greatness.

--Raj Manoharan

Friday, August 25, 2017

30th Anniversary Andy Summers Playlists

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Andy Summers’ solo recording career, and to commemorate the occasion, I’ve come up with what I feel are the guitarist’s definitive musical highlights of the last three decades.

Think of the following as a three-CD, 30-track best-of retrospective, which can be divided into three self-contained 10-track collections.

Disc One: Shining Sea (Shimmering Soundscapes)

Guide * Forgotten Steps * Image and Likeness * XYZ * Red Balloon * Mysterious Barricades * Shining Sea * Imagine You * Journey through Blue Regions * Help from Jupiter

Disc Two: The Somnambulist (Soft Fusion)

Hold Me * Luna * The Golden Wire * Passion of the Shadow * Bacchante * Low Flying Doves * The Somnambulist * Now I’m Free * Harmonograph * If Anything

Disc Three: Ruffled Feathers (Hard Fusion)

Nowhere * Earthly Pleasures * Mexico 1920 * Ruffled Feathers * Meshes of the Afternoon * Shuffle Boil * Tonight at Noon * Above the World * Metal Dog * Elephant Bird

Of these, my absolute Top Ten for a single-CD best-of collection is as follows:

Best of 1987-2017

XYZ * Shining Sea * The Golden Wire * Mexico 1920 * Bacchante * Meshes of the Afternoon * The Somnambulist * Tonight at Noon * Now I'm Free * If Anything

--Raj Manoharan

Jerry Lewis (1926-2017)

Truly the King of Comedy.

--Raj Manoharan

Glen Campbell (1936-2017)

He was him.

--Raj Manoharan

Sam Shepard (1943-2017)

He had the right stuff.

--Raj Manoharan

Martin Landau (1928-2017)

Mission: Impossible, Space: 1999, Ed Wood, B.A.P.S., The X-Files.


Pull the string!

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sand (1987, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Sand is about as far removed from a typical guitar album as you can get, and yet it is a prime example of the far-reaching sonic capabilities that can be achieved with a guitar.

This is Allan Holdsworth's first fully instrumental solo album, and it is a flawless delight from beginning to end. It is one of those rare records that can be played continuously without end and without exhaustion.

As brought to vivid and visceral life by Holdsworth's celestial Synthaxe tones and sizzling six-string solos, the compositions are cinematic and compelling, with buoyant backup support provided by sound effects technician John England, keyboardist Alan Pasqua, bassists Jimmy Johnson and Biff Vincent, and drummers Gary Husband and Chad Wackerman. Wackerman especially kicks his powerhouse pounding into high gear on this outing.

After 30 years, Sand remains a timeless testament to Holdsworth's visionary genius and brilliance.

--Raj Manoharan