Although Andy Summers' eponymous recording career outside The Police goes back another four years to include his highly acclaimed collaborations with fellow guitarist Robert Fripp – I Advance Masked (1982) and Bewitched (1984) – it was three decades ago during the summer of 1986 that Summers recorded his first solo album, XYZ, named after the middle initials of his three children.
called Quark and engineered and recorded by Devo member Bob
Casale at Devo Studios, XYZ is the only album on which
Summers sings lead vocals throughout. It also marks the beginning of
Summers' collaboration with Genesis engineer and producer David
Hentschel, who coproduced and played keyboards on XYZ as well
as Summers' next three albums and coproduced another Summers album a
few years later.
XYZ pales in comparison to Summers' virtuosic instrumental
albums, the drone-like songs are hypnotically entrancing, the
monotonous singing style is uniquely eclectic and serves the songs
well, and the guitar work is excellent as always. The exceptionally
upbeat, gospel-tinged song “Nowhere” features Summers' most
rocking and soulful guitar solo ever, the best of his entire
recording career thus far.
say that as someone who has been a fan of Summers since The Police's
final studio album, Synchronicity, in 1983 – when Summers
was 40 and I was 10 – and who has some of Summers' key recordings
from the 1960s with Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, Dantalion's Chariot,
and Eric Burdon and the New Animals.
year also marks the 25th anniversary of my favorite Andy
Summers album, World Gone Strange, his only release to be
recorded entirely in New York City, and the 20th
anniversary of Synaesthesia, Summers' last album to be
coproduced by David Hentschel – thus far.
it is also the 10th anniversary of Summers' autobiography,
One Train Later. I had the pleasure of meeting Summers in
person and getting his autograph during his book tour stop at my alma
mater, New York University, for which I received a special invite as
years before that, I was fortunate and privileged enough to be able
to interview Summers by telephone for a sidebar accompanying my main
interview with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns in DirecTV: The
Guide. Summers even listed our interview on his Web site's news
section for a while.
of course, I have seen Summers perform live several times over the
years, first in an acoustic guitar duet with John Etheridge (in 1994
at The Bottom Line in the heart of NYU), then solo with his own
various backing bands, and finally with The Police twice during their
2007-2008 reunion tour.