GP Editors' CD Reviews

Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett apparently has mad honky-tonk chops. Who knew?

Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants
All Hat and No Cattle

Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett apparently has mad honky-tonk chops. Who knew? He and his band rip through ten barnburners that have great tones, spot-on production, and absolutely righteous playing. The Tele-style twang tones are delicious, with all the snap, trem, and splashy reverb you could ask for. The whole band turns in awesome performances, with the pedal-steel playing being particularly excellent. This doesn’t sound like guys dabbling in a style for kicks. This sounds like guys who know what the hell they’re doing. Yeah! SideOneDummy. —Matt Blackett

Lori Lieberman
Bricks Against the Glass

You might not recognize Lori Lieberman’s name, but you’ve heard her work (a poem of hers inspired the lyrics to “Killing Me Softly” and she sang some Schoolhouse Rock tunes—how cool is that?). Well, she’s back, and this record is sure to appeal to lovers of acoustic-driven singer-songwriters in the style of Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell. Lieberman plays cool, strummed flat-top lines in “Ticket to Leave,” beautiful fingerpicked parts in “Lottery,” and rolling arpeggios in “Elephants.” She is expertly backed on electric by Lyle Workman and Jason Orme, who both prove why they get so many damn calls for sessions. Drive On. —Matt Blackett

Bruce Forman Trio

Forman is a master at soloing fluidly over complex changes, but everything he does on this CD strikes a careful balance with song structure and groove, and there’s none of that feeling of someone trying to blow your mind with oblique melodies, insane speed, or their skill at replicating what some fill-in-the-blank jazz genius did 50 years ago. In fact, Forman and his group sound so natural and uncontrived in this live-in-the-studio album (on which Forman wrote the majority of the songs) that you have to wonder if they’ve been paying any attention at all to what’s happening in the world of jazz lately. —Art Thompson

Carl Verheyen
Mustang Run

Verheyen throws down with white-hot intensity on this inspired-sounding album of mostly instrumental tunes. A delicious assortment of guitar tones and a stellar cast of musicians assist him in his mission to burn, which Carl does by kicking ass in a variety of styles. So whether he’s getting fusion-y on “Amandola,” doing a kind of Mahavishnu-style, tension-and-release thing with a cello on “Last Days of Autumn,” trading solos with saxophonist Bill Evans on the funky “Fourth Door on the Right,” or shredding spectacularly with fiddle ace Jerry Goodman on the title track, the result is a mind-blowing spectacle in the arena of takeno- prisoners guitar playing. Cranktone Entertainment. —Art Thompson

Elvis Presley
Elvis at Stax: Deluxe Edition

This 3-CD collection of Presley’s last major studio sessions represents 12 nights’ worth of recordings that the King made in July and December of 1973. Think what you will of Elvis during this time of his legendary excesses, but, wow, what a badass! The music has great energy and vibe as the band charges though a vast array of songs—some 55 in all—which ultimately resulted in six consecutive Top 40 singles between ’73 and ’75, including “Raised on Rock,” “I Got a Feeling in My Body,” and “Promised Land.” Plusses here include hearing Elvis’ quips in-between the takes, and the fiery licks of James Burton twanging throughout. Factor in a wealth of great photos in the accompanying booklet, and this is the most exciting release of “new” Elvis in a long time. RCA/Leg. —Art Thompson

Terje Rypdal
Melodic Warrior

Comprising two major orchestral works, one recorded in 2003 and the other in 2009, this latest release from the renowned Norwegian guitarist and composer showcases both the scope of his extraordinary musical vision and his singular electric guitar playing, which majestically soars above and within the ever-shifting symphonic structures. “Melodic Warrior” is a choral/orchestral work featuring the Hilliard Ensemble singing texts based on Native American stories. “And the Sky Was Covered with Waterfalls and Angels” was inspired by the Cannes International Fireworks Festival. Both are spectacular, mature works replete with extraordinary beauty, drama, and mystery. ECM. —Barry Cleveland

Ross Hammond Quartet

Sacramento, California-based guitarist Ross Hammond plays up a storm in the excellent company of drummer Alex Cline, bassist Steuart Liebig, and saxophonist/flautist Vinny Golia on this adventurous and at times heady disc. The themes draw from both the rock and jazz idioms, as do Hammond’s ragged guitar tones, and there are copious amounts of improvisation—but this isn’t “fusion” in the usual sense. Instead of gratuitous displays of virtuosity, the ensemble focuses on the whole, with Hammond’s atypically syncopated and inventive rhythm work at the center, and his angular yet melodic solo excursions providing the perfect foil for Golia’s exquisite blowing. Prescott. —Barry Cleveland