Rants And Raves: May 2009

May 1, 2009


Murder Death and Prison


This stark, minimalist collection of rebellious acoustic troubadours singing about the travails of life on the wrong side of the tracks won’t exactly thrill GP readers looking for Kaki King- or Tommy Emmanuel-inspired flat-top histrionics. While the artists—which include Eric Wolfson, Ron Pubcrawler, Dave Dalton, Jeff Crane, and Lewis the Swan—have more in common with Woody Guthrie than Guthrie Govan, the atmospheres they conjure absolutely convey desperation, loss, and blind, angry craziness. Although I’m not typically a great fan of singer/songwriter fare, these tortured bastards really mean it, man, and they’ve tossed little quirks in each tune—distorted textures, moody keyboards, steel guitars, and so on—to keep your ears tingling. And don’t miss former GP editor Darrin Fox’s edgy slide performance on “Borstal Boys”—which he recorded direct into his Mac Powerbook’s lessthan- audiophile 1/8" input. It’s that kind of brutish, “make do” attitude that transforms this compilation into something beautifully flawed and disturbingly real. Rotten Eggs/ Lude Boy. —Michael Molenda




What do you get when you cross Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Doobie Brothers? It would probably sound a lot like Jackdawg. This record is a rocking collaboration between Doobie guitarist John McFee and drummer Keith Knudsen and Creedence bassist Stu Cook. McFee is best known for his work with les Frères Doobies, but he also played on Elvis Costello’s debut and worked with Van Morrison back in the day. These tunes are predominantly kick-ass classic rock, with honest tones and strong solos by McFee. He cranks out tasty delay-soaked harmonics in “Ghost Dance,” a tune that would be at home on a Frontiers-era Journey album. McFee’s resume also contains a stint in Clover with Huey Lewis, and that influence is apparent on “Kisses in the Rain,” with its ooh-aah harmonies and hummable guitar melody. Fans of Northern California pop and rock from the ’70s and ’80s (every band mentioned here with a little Night Ranger thrown in), will find plenty to dig about Jackdawg. Sonic Past. —Matt Blackett



Stars and Their Guitars—A History of the Electric Guitar


This excellent DVD presents a good general overview of the “history of the electric guitar,” with a significant amount of rare historical footage and informative interviews with principals at Gibson, Fender, Rickenbacker, and other manufacturers—but its greatest strength lies in the contributions from more than 20 of the world’s most influential players. Interviews with old school legends such as Scotty Moore, Les Paul, Duane Eddy, B.B. King, Steve Cropper, Glenn Campbell, and James Burton are interspersed with those of classic rockers such as Roger McGuinn, Billy Gibbons, and Robbie Krieger, and more recent heroes such as Mick Jones, Elliot Easton, Slash, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, and Nancy Wilson. Bonus chapters include discussions of studio work and vintage guitar collecting, along with Beatles stories— including anecdotal remembrances by Beatle chauffeur Alf Bicknell—and a brief cameo by Bo Diddley. Passport. —Barry Clevelandg

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