Guitar Masters Volumes 3 & 4 Set For Release on June 1st

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Dedicated to the guitar legend Les Paul, the next two volumes in the Guitar Masters series are set to hit store shelves on June 1st. This is not a release that is easily classified in terms of genre, simply because it’s made up of a few different styles of music. Diverse would not be an inappropriate way to describe this 2-CD set.

Despite differences in musical style from one track to the next, the one thing all of the tracks on this set have in common is guitar playing by names well-recognized as being some of the best guitarists of all time.

Of interest to readers who land here are probably the players whom we recognize through some connection to classic rock. In this case, those names include Jeff Beck, Hal Lindes, James Ryan, Alex De Rosso, Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth.guitar-masters-3-4

Obviously, this release is one that will appeal to guitar players in particular, and may be a bit too diverse for a lot of music fans. With just a few exceptions, I found this set enjoyable to listen to, not only for the above-average ability of the players, but also for the tasteful selections that make up most of the material.

In fairness, I am not able to say a lot about some of the tracks, since they are just not the kind of music I enjoy listening to. This would include the Les Paul work, and even one of the Jeff Beck tracks that had more of a 1950’s-style rock and roll feel to it. Great guitar work, but just not my kind of music.

Delving a bit deeper into the volume 3 CD, “El Becko” features Gary Hoey, a guitarist who may not be as recognizable as some of the others featured on this set, but obviously someone who demonstrates the skills that make him eligible to be included on a set entitled Guitar Masters.

It was kind of fun to see that the Steely Dan hit “Peg” was included and featured Jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb. A respectable instrumental version resulted, but fell a bit short of the original version for me. I suspect it’s not an easy task when measured against the legendary attention to detail Donald Fagan and Walter Becker are known for.

Taking things in more of a harder rock direction, James Ryan, formerly with Men At Work, leaves no doubt about his skills on guitar, as he rips his way through “Psycho Cycle.” I’m quick to admit that I’m not a guitarist, but for me, this was some of the most impressive guitar work on the whole set.

Track number 11 on Volume 3 highlights Alex De Rosso’s skill, and was quite subdued compared with what I might expect from a Dokken guitarist. I can’t speak with much authority regarding Dokken, and perhaps they have to their credit some more mellow material than I would expect.

Hal Lindes, who was with Dire Straits for a time, seems to be the most well-represented on this release, appearing on a total of four tracks. From the soaring runs on “Bettie” to his lightning riffs on “Aphrodite,” Lindes turns in worthy performances that suggest his presence on Guitar Masters is justified.

Steve Vai, joined by bassist Randy Coven is featured on “Funk Me Tender,” an up tempo arrangement with  fusion overtones. Backed by tight, precision drum work, there’s nothing boring about this track, and I’d suggest that it should find favor with guitarists, bassists and drummers alike.

My apologies to Allan Holdswoth, but as good a guitarist as he obviously is, I usually just don’t “get” his stuff. “Antillia” is a different story, however. Holdsworth is not as “out there” as I’ve heard him on some of his other material. By no means have I heard everything he’s done, so there may indeed be more of his work that I could connect with. This is another track that has a fusion feel to it, with more amazing work turned in by the rhythm section.

Overall, I’d have to say that this new set has a jazzy feel to most of the material. There are notable exceptions, but if someone forced me to classify it, I’d have to say jazz.

There will no doubt be other reviews of this new double-CD set by people more qualified to take up the matter of Guitar Masters than I, but from a classic rock fan who has a healthy respect for other genres such as jazz, and particularly fusion, I’d say this is a set well worth adding to the collection of just about any guitarist as well as other music fans who just enjoy listening to outstanding musicianship.

5 Comments

  1. Mike Chieffo June 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    The artists on this CD should be ashamed of themselves. This is nothing more than a hack capitalizing on Les Paul’s name. The guy’s body is not even cold yet. There is NOTHING on this CD that even resembles anything Les would do. Almost every track sounds like the same, overprocessed, overtapped, OVER played billion note a second players with NO feel, heart, sense of melody. Even the tempo’s are fast(er) to justify the excessive meaningless guitar mastubations. Les played for the beauty of the song. The most heartfelt song is Jeff Beck and Screaming Lord Sutch. And that is from the 60’s! These guys are playing for greatest chops in the west awards. This is a CD dedicated to les Paul and it has 3 Beck songs played by other artists (which are all pretty well brutalized) and Leslie West playing Zeppelin?? Sure the players are technically great but they miss badly everything that Les stood for. Les would be insulted. The review above admits he’s not a guitar player. That’s quite obvious. Don’t waste your money.

    • Real Rock News June 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm

      Thanks for setting us all straight with the divine truth, there Mike.

      I think you’re a bit over the top speaking for Les Paul, though.

  2. Mike Chieffo June 5, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Les would be very gracious and say it was all great. That I do know. even if he didn’t.

    I don’t like the fact that this conglomeration is marketed as a “Les Paul dedication”. That is pure BS and borders on fraud. If the producer put a note IN the liner thanking Les and dedicating the CD to him is one thing. To put his picture on the cover imtimates the work inside will have SOMETHING to do with Les. Other than (ONE!) actual Les Paul recording and the fact that these guys are using (and abusing!) the technology Les invented is the CLOSEST it gets to LP. I’ll bet NONE of them even used a LP guitar! There are great players on here whose ability I repect. I was really hoping to hear then use their talent in a different direction in celebration of LP. Instead I got a bunch of nonsense, songs that they could have put on their own albums, babdly covered covers and an attempt at little known players trying to capitalize on Les Paul’s fame. BULLSHIT, like I said previously.

    • Real Rock News June 5, 2010 at 10:26 am

      I appreciate you taking the time to come back and provide more details regarding your feelings on the issue, Mike.

      Everyone’s opinion is welcome here, providing that the dialog remains civil.

  3. Mike Chieffo June 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Having met Les a few times and admiring his incredible body of work both musically and inventively I am a bit “sensitive” to the matter.

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