Rants And Raves

October 17, 2008

RY COODER
I,Flathead Deluxe Edition On the final disc in Cooder’s California Trilogy, the slide,steel, and twang master tackles ’60s-era small town life on the edge of the desert in the Searles Lake/Trona area along U.S. Route 395. Subtitled The Songs of Kash Buk and the Klowns, the tunes on I, Flathead center on the principalfigure in Cooder’s accompanying novella, which you need to read to fully grok them.Apart from the captivating story—which includes a “Martian” named Shakey, a dog named Spayed Kooley, a Filipino stripper, corruptcops, an interstellar arms dealer, and, of course, salt-flat racers—the music evokes backwater honky tonks, Tex-Mex radio, and high-lonesome sensibilities. Cooder sings and narrates, and though there’s nary a solo, his guitar playing is soulful and deep, and his luscious tones thoroughly satisfying throughout this quirky masterpiece. Nonesuch/Perro Verde. —Barry Cleveland

PAUL MANOUSOS
Common Thread Former GP brother in arms Darrin Fox positively kills on this collection of Americana tunes. Singer/songwriter Paul Manousos drives the songs with his acoustic strums with excellent color commentary provided by D-Fox. He delivers slippery bends on “Don’t Cry” and staccato clucks on “Stay Awake,” the latter replete with warranty- voiding whammy bar effects created by bending the living snot out of his Tele neck. [Ed. Note: That’s just plain dangerous and kids should not try it at home.] Reverb and tremdrenched Telecaster tones are the order of the day and Fox manages to squeeze a buttload of timbres out of a limited gear palette with clever pick attacks, pickup changes, harmonics, and the aforementioned neck bending. Other highlights include the huge pocket on the solo to Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings” and the dreamy cascades of “Real World.” GP’s loss is Manousos’ gain and yours too if you pick up this record or catch them on tour. Safe travels, Mr. Fox. Shock & Fall. —Matt Blackett

Los Fabulocos
Swinging out of the SoCal Chicano music scene, Los Fabulocos combine Tex- Mex border influences with ’50s R&B and rockabilly, and a touch of zydeco to create their hybrid “Cali-Mex” sound. Driven by the fluid guitar work of Kid Ramos and the button accordion playing of vocalist Jesus Cuevas, the band puts its distinctive stamp on everything from Rockin’ Dopsie’s “Crazy Baby” and the Rock ’N Roll Trio’s “Lonesome Tears in My Eyes” to the high-steppin’ original, “Burning the Chicken”—which Ramos rips into with some seriously badass baritone. It’s great to hear a roots-rock album that rolls through such rich landscape of “American” influences, with the guitar taking a window seat all the way.Delta Groove Music, Inc.—Art Thompson

DUNGEN

4
On their appropriately—if less than creatively—titled fourth studio album, the neo-psychedelic Swedes once again present Day-Glo sound paintings using broad strokes— but this time with softer edges and a more pop-orchestral feel. Basically the brainchild of singer/songwriter/keyboardist/flautist/percussionist Gustav Ejstes, with large doses of psychotropic guitar by Reine Fiske, Dungen somehow manages to let its hippie freak flag fly without sounding too derivative or dated. And while most American listeners won’t understand the lyrics, Fiske’s outrageous fuzzinto- a-cranked-up-Marshall tones, sweeping phrasing, and acid-inspired ornamentation require no translation. Put this in your peace pipe and smoke it. Kemado. —Barry Cleveland

D.F.A.

4th
Verona, Italy’s D.F.A. (an acronym for Duty Free Area) are obviously indebted to ’70s Canterbury Scene bands such as Hatfield and the North and National Health, but the group bring much more than those influences to the proverbial party, including Sardinian vocal harmonies and neo-classical acoustic string arrangements that give the music a decidedly Italian twist. The band’s first studio album in nearly a decade presents six compositions ranging in length from 6:16 to 18:58—and they are compositions, rather than delivery vehicles for indulgent soloing, which is so often the case with post-prog and jazz-rock fusion outfits. In fact, while bassist Luca Baldassari, keyboardist Alberto Bonomi, guitarist Silvio Minelli, and drummer Alberto De Grandis (who, along with Bonomi, composed most of the material), are all accomplished musicians, their individual contributions never overshadow the whole, even when soloing. Instead, each part is integral to the overall flow of the music, which is constantly unfolding in interesting and unexpected ways. And while Minelli often opts for heavily overdriven tones, he uses them to craft highly melodic lines that sing more often than sting. A couple of the songs have lyrics, some of which are fairly sappy but, unless you understand Italian, that won’t be an issue. Bravo! Moonjune. —Barry Cleveland

CLASSIC ELECTRICS

By Walter Carter
This handy book isn’t another lavish coffee-table tome of unobtainable guitars from the ’50s, but rather a field guide to some 350 classic electric hollowbody and solidbody guitars from the last 70 years. The text that accompanies each model gives you a rundown of the instrument’s key details along with some background info on the company that produced it. You’ll find everything from ultra-collectible Fenders, Gibsons, and Gretsches, to weirdos such as the Wilkanowski Airway and 12-pickup Vega 1200 Stereo, as well as modern marvels from Alembic, Charvel, Ibanez, Hamer, PRS, and many others.Jawbone. —Art Thompson

GUITAR IDENTIFICATION 4TH EDITION: A REFERENCE FOR DATING GUITARS MADE BY FENDER, GIBSON, GRETSCH, AND MARTIN

By A. R. Duchossoir
The tile of this revised and updated 82-page book pretty much obviates the need for a review, but suffice to say that previous editions have been the first place that many collectors and luthiers turn to when needing to authenticate and/or date a vintage guitar. The new edition includes serial numbers and specs for models up through 2007, which could be a huge help next time you encounter a “’50s” Tele with a price tag that’s just too good to be true.Hal Leonard.—Art Thompson

QUICK HITS

BONNY & BUZZ BANG IT AGAIN!
If you love early-’60sstyle instrumental twang-pop with just the right touch of kitsch, played beautifully on vintage instruments, and recorded old school, you can’t miss with this brilliant disc, featuring guitarist Peter “Buzz” Miller (a.k.a. Big Boy Pete). Double Crown. —BC

GREG CAMP DEFEKTOR
Smashmouth’s guitarist and hyper-creative “man behind the curtain”—the sonic wizard behind the pop/punk posse’s multi-layered, multi-platinum hits—emerges with a surf-adelic solo odyssey that weaves together everything you love about vintage guitar tones, tortured Farfisa, ’60s frat-rock vocal hooks, and epic Moriccone-esque soundscapes. —JG

VON GARCIA I THINK A THINK
James von Buelow and Damon Trotta’s ambient noise rock “collaborative musical collage” showcases a bevy of NYC’s best improvisers— including guitarist extraordinaire Ben Monder on one track—in an intriguing work that will delight adventurous listeners. Download it for free at sluggosgoonmusic.com. Sluggo’s Goon Music. —BC

CHECKPOINT CHARLEY SONGS ONE THROUGH TWELVE
Pop gods Jellyfish famously stole from everyone. Checkpoint Charley steals from Jellyfish. Brilliant! Great guitar tones, clever parts, and cool solos abound, as well as hooks that are so damn infectious that someone should call the Center for Disease Control. Bart Fargo. —MB

GREG KOCH AND OTHER BAD MEN ON THE RADIO
The Wisconsin Tele/Strat strangler who teaches GP readers how to “pummel the gristle with great vehemence” (and we’re trusting him that this phrase somehow relates to guitar playing) has returned with an explosive live album. His superb pummeling on “The Stumble” alone is a three-minute master class in blues-rock. BHM. —JG

STEVE CROPPER & FELIX CAVALIERE NUDGE IT UP A NOTCH
Bulletproof grooves powered by gritty and greasy guitar and vocal tracks courtesy of two bulletproof pioneers of blued-eyed soul. Soothing. When this disc spins, the healing begins. Stax. —JG

WHAT’S SPINNING IN THE EDITORS’HEADS THIS MONTH?

MATT BLACKETT
Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True Alanis Morissette, Flavors of Entanglement Protein, Songs About Cowgirls

BARRY CLEVELAND
Javier Garcia & Andén Sur, Mate Voodoo Martin Taylor, Fraternity Mike Keneally, Wine And Pickles

JUDE GOLD
The Jacksons, Destiny [Remastered] Mike Stern, Upside Downside Matt Duke, Kingdom Underground

JUDE GOLD
The Jacksons, Destiny [Remastered] Mike Stern, Upside Downside Matt Duke, Kingdom Underground

ART THOMPSON
Max Roach Quartet, Speak Brother Speak Miles Davis, Milestones Junior Kimbrough, Most Things Haven’t Worked Out

MICHAEL MOLENDA
Steve Cropper & Felix Cavaliere, Nudge It Up a Notch Mogwai, The Hawk Is Howling Loquat, Secrets of the Sea

DAMIEN CASTANEDA
Manowar, Songs of Odin Xavier Cugat, Cugi’s Cocktails Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist

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