Savvy guitarists have followed Mike Keneally since his early days playing with Frank Zappa, but never before has the San Diegan six-string slinger indulged them with such a purely guitar-oriented outing. Drawing on material from throughout his career, Keneally and his “dream band” of bassist Brian Beller, drummer Joe Travers, and guitarist Rick Musallam blaze through each number with a joyous passion that often exceeds that of the fine studio versions. Highlights include the incendiary wah-wah-ing on the Zappa-esque “Lightnin’ Roy” and “Uglytown,” the fiery funk strutting on “Panda,” the boiling-point blues-isms on “Top of Stove Melting,” and the brooding loveliness of “Machupicchu.” Keneally plays a “smoothly snarling” humbucker-equipped “Strat” on most pieces rather than his usual green Fender. Keneally also plays keyboards on a few songs, allowing Musallam, who is a fine guitarist, to solo on his ’74 Les Paul. The Deluxe Edition includes a DVD of the band’s July 30, 2005 performance at Studio City’s Baked Potato mixed in both stereo and Dolby 5.1 Surround—and it’s well worth the additional cost, as you get a bird’s-eye view of all the fretboard action, as well as an amusing and informative band commentary track. (Exowax).
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