Saturday, May 6, 2017

Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection (2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Guitar great Allan Holdsworth sadly may be gone, but he is certainly not forgotten, especially thanks to the two-disc Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection and the 12-CD box set The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! The Allan Holdsworth Album Collection.

As I had not listened to or kept track of Holdsworth for over a decade, I was shocked to read of his passing – and just as shocked to read it on the front page of Yahoo News. For someone as on the fringes of the mainstream as Holdsworth was, the decent print and online media coverage of his death has been somewhat heartening.

Although I had lost touch with Holdsworth's happenings in recent years, I immediately recalled the irresistible, Oriental guitar-and-synth hook of "Tokyo Dream," one of the highlights of the 28-track Eidolon compilation and obviously one of the most memorable Holdsworth tunes for me.

There are plenty of other great cuts on the album, which like the box set both was overseen by Holdsworth and came out just a week before he left us. Actually, all the songs, most of them instrumental, are great, as they all feature Holdsworth's virtuosic guitar and synthaxe playing.

But in terms of overall composition, hooks, and general awesomeness, my top ten tracks are as follows: "The Sixteen Men of Tain," "Eidolon," "Tullio," "Sphere of Innocence," "Dodgy Boat," "City Nights," "Tokyo Dream," "Temporary Fault," "The 4.15 Bradford Executive," and "Curves."

Although 70 is too young to go, and it would have been nice to have Holdsworth with us for a little longer, at least he made it to 70. In his final years, the distinctively eagle-faced Holdsworth looked like a cuddly, lovable old grandpa, which by all accounts he was.

Holdsworth's was a life well lived and well played.

Well played, Mr. Holdsworth. Well played.

--Raj Manoharan

Infinite Tuesday: Autobiographical Riffs – The Music (2017), by Michael Nesmith

CD Fan Review

Released in conjunction with Michael Nesmith's memoir of the same name, Infinite Tuesday provides a fine introduction to and overview of Nesmith's music career from 1965 to 2005.

The collection is similar to George Harrison's first greatest hits album in that, just as the Harrison compilation featured his top songs with The Beatles, this retrospective includes Nesmith's lead vocal performances on his select Monkees compositions. Chief among these are the first recorded version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," which showcases Nesmith in top form as a singer.

A solo highlight is the very pensive and existential "Opening Theme – Life, the Unsuspecting Captive" from Nesmith's 1974 concept album The Prison.

Also included here is "The New Recruit," a rare, cheeky anti-war song with endearingly goofy Gomer Pyle-style vocals recorded by Nesmith under the name Michael Blessing before joining The Monkees.

Infinite Tuesday isn't quite as infinite as it could be, as Nesmith has recorded new Monkees and solo material in recent years. But as a short primer on his official, physically released non-Monkees work, it gets the job done.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Allan Holdsworth (1946-2017)

One of the few, true guitar heroes.

Will never be another like him.

Great loss, irreplaceable.

--Raj Manoharan

Friday, March 24, 2017

Triboluminescence (2017), by Andy Summers

CD Fan Review

Summers got his groove back.

For the longest time, I had held out hope that Andy Summers would create another album similar in vein to his first two solo instrumental efforts, Mysterious Barricades (1988) and The Golden Wire (1989), which feature his compositions and guitar playing at their most transcendental and sublime. Triboluminescence rekindles the spirit of those original records, but on a whole other level, and the result is absolutely delightful.

Expounding upon his explorations of self-sufficient sonic possibilities begun with the 2015 industrial tech whack offering Metal Dog, Summers exceeds that accomplishment, using his guitars and other instruments (and cheating slightly with the collusion of cellist Artyom Manukyan on one track) to create alien and otherworldly sounds that transport you into a wondrous dimension of exhilarating sensory perception.

Standout tunes include the haunting “If Anything,” “Elephant Bird” (classic Andy Summers), "Gigantopithecus" (psychedelic reggae rock), “Ricochet” (bluesy funk), the eerie and enigmatic "Sam and Janet" (with a special cameo by "Metal Dog" from the album of the same name), and “Help from Jupiter” (spacey shades of Barricades and Bewitched). (The latter three tracks are digital/vinyl exclusives.)

Summers described his personal musical direction in the late 1980s and early 1990s as “new fusion.” He calls his unique stylings on Triboluminescence “new exotic.” I myself like to think of it as “new mysterious.”

Without a doubt, Triboluminescence certainly ranks as one of Andy Summers’ best albums (it's my personal favorite), right up there with his Private Music catalog, as well as Synaesthesia and Earth + Sky. It is also solid and demonstrable proof that at age 74, Andy Summers is still very much in his prime – and still very much in the top tier of guitar masters.

--Raj Manoharan

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

All hail the Pop of Rock!

And still poppin' and rockin' in peace!

New album out June 17!

--Raj Manoharan