Heard thru’ the grapevine (well OK facebook) that a couple of friends of mine, Nik and Carey, were counting down the hours ’til they’d get to see Nik’s all time guitar hero, Slash, in concert. It’s been a while since Nik and I had jammed together. My old acoustic’s sittin’ in a corner gathering dust. Plus the strife’s distaste for all things guitar related means I hadn’t thrown open the windows and cranked up the stereo in an age. ;o)
So, I went hunting for the self titled album Slash and gave it a spin, that very same day. OMG! Not really sure whether it makes ya wanna pick up an axe and start jamming straight away, or never dare touch a six-string ever again. Mixed feelings on that score. This album’s truly awesome; hat’s off (pun intended) to the düde I must say.
No disrespect to Slash, but the easiest way to describe this is to say: “he’s done a Santana on this one”. By which I mean: he sticks to what he knows best and recruits a variety of talented singers for each of the 14 tracks. (Sorry Duff, I meant musicians obviously). But there the comparison ends. Slash and Carlos have their own unmistakable styles; both beautifully unique. (Can I use the word beautiful when talking about guys’n’guitars? This is where Bill & Ted chime in with “Fag”! ;o)
I’m really pushed to pick a favorite on this album. Seriously. Slash, ever the riff-meister hits ya straight out of the gate with a one-two from Ian Astbury on ‘Ghost’ and Ozzy on ‘Crucify the Dead’. And the tempo keeps going pretty much thru’ the whole set. It’s amazing to hear Lemmy’s still growling into the mic, after all these years. That bad ass’s Rock’n’Roll excesses are as legendary as Slash’s himself. Makes me wonder how many voice boxes the sucker’s worn out. (I also wonder what ever happened to “Fast” Eddie Clarke)?
Guitar Hero # II? Carlos himself obviously. Having imported Slash into iTunes, for iPod and desktop enjoyment, I went out and grabbed a copy of Santana’s Guitar Heaven. Imported it straight into iTunes; selected Recently Added and put both albums on back-to-back repeat. An equal classic in my book. It was refreshing to hear Carlos mix things up with a variety of styles and tip his hat to some of his personal heroes.
Not surprisingly Guitar Hero # III (Clapton) popped into my brain when listening to Santana’s rendition of Cream classic ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’; directly followed by George Harrison’s masterpiece ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. (Clapton’s guitar work on the Beatles original was obviously pure class). I think the latter track is actually my favorite on the album, truth be told. The vocals are beautiful (“Fag”) and the guitar work has a more laid back, acoustic, slightly Latin flavor. Most people who cover this track usually go all out; maybe to try and top Clapton’s original fret-work? (Two personal favorites are by Jeff Healey and Peter Frampton).
One track that took me by surprise, merely by it’s inclusion was ‘Under The Bridge’. Don’t get me wrong; love the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the guitar work on the original was phenomenal. It’s just that it’s not as obvious as ‘Whole Lotta Love’ or ‘Little Wing’, when people talk of Guitar Classics? But then again, I guess some of the other tracks may strike a similar chord (pun intended) with some of you out there.
Which brings us neatly to Clapton. Well it did me any way. You guessed it: grab jacket, door slam, key in ignition, down to local record shop, screech back, import and now I’d 3 albums back-to-back in Recently Added. This one is more akin to Clapton’s recent style. Very laid back with plenty of hat tipping to the traditional bluesy players that gave him (and obviously continue to give him) his inspiration.
Different kind of concert-going experience obviously. But equally awe-inspiring none-the-less. Seen Clapton several times post-MTV-unplugged and I must say the acoustic sections are always a real pleasure to witness. No ego trips there. Surrounds himself with excellent musicians, allows each to shine…and they just jam. It’s more like you’re sitting in on a cozy studio session, rather than attending a stadium gig with a few thousand of your closest friends. ;o)
I’ve also had the privilege of seeing Santana several times. Very true to his roots, always rhythmical, with plenty of percussion, dancing and again surrounded by talented musicians. Most excellent.
Kinda bummed I missed Slash this time round; but if this album’s anything to go by I’ll be queuing up with everybody else fighting to grab a ticket; next chance I get.
In short: all 3 albums are pure class, as are the gents that carefully crafted them. I’d highly recommend them to anyone…’cept maybe the missus. She’s a lost cause ;o)