No doubt there will be guitarists out there who will say this album changed their lives or that I don’t understand the album because I don’t play guitar.
A instrumental rock album with guitar as its focus by an otherwise good guitarist only highlights the fact that popular rock music is (largely, though with exceptions) a collaborative practice unlike say, painting, writing etc.
It also suggests that guitar is only one of the things you have to get “right”.
The exception is, perhaps, if you write all the music, play all the instruments and produce the album.
You still have to get it “right” though.
This album is largely instrumental and that’s not a problem but it is also a little dull.
And, that is a problem.
Hunter can play guitar and he does play it very, very well. I didn’t expect anything less from this legendary sessionman / sideman.
Bio, wikipedia: Stephen John Hunter, stage name Steve "The Deacon" Hunter, born June 14, 1948, in Decatur, Illinois, is an American guitarist best known for his collaborations with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper. He first played with Mitch Ryder’s
This album, Hunter’s first solo one, is largely instrumental and instrumental albums are hard to do. The trick is to have (to my ears) the instrumentals in a certain genre or style otherwise the music doesn’t flow from track to track. Listen to any of the Glen Campbell, Chet Atkins, Marc Ribot, Sandy Bull, John Fahey albums for proof of a consistent vision across an album of instrumentals.
Hunter can be magnificent when working with others but, despite some good cover choices and a couple of good vocals (it’s a pity he didn’t sing a little more), the album doesn’t “spark” as much as Hunters work with Lou Reed or Alice Cooper. Having said that there is more soft rock and prog rock in here than Lou or Alice would ever look at.
This is a showcase for Hunter the guitarist like some sort of an aural CV or resume. He plays a number of styles of 70s (pre punk) rock guitar and the only link between songs is the fact that he is playing guitar. The songs aren’t otherwise linked stylistically (with the exception of the “sea” songs on the second side which are thematically linked but don’t hold together stylistically). Don’t get me wrong I like “eclectic” and “diverse” but there has to be a thread in there.
The other problem is “era” … Hunters 70s mainstream rock guitar is backed by 70s mainstream rock bass, drums and keyboards. The songs are a little hamfisted though I think some (more) smart vocals would have helped.
It’s a pity Hunter didn’t supply more vocals.
The album was produced by Kiss/Pink Floyd wizard Bob Ezrin and (co-producer ) Brian Christian.
So to my (non-guitar playing) ears this album only works occasionally.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Eight Miles High – (Gene Clark / David Crosby / Roger McGuinn Steve Hunter) – At 5 minutes this is a big guitar workout instrumental of the Byrds classic. It doesn’t really work for me.
Eldorado Street– (Steve Hunter) – 70s guitar posturing without much point.
- Goin’ Down – (Traditional) – an old blues that works though I’m not sure how it fits in with the songs preceding it. Hunter’s vocal, though nowhere near black, have a pleasant earthiness to them.
- Rubber Man – (Steve Hunter) – another instrumental and quite a funky workout .
- Of All Times to Leave – (Steve Hunter) – A instrumental. A very 70s mood piece.
St.Viaduct Gitar Rag – (Steve Hunter) – an old timey rag. Pleasant
- Sail on Sailor – (Tandyn Almer / Ray Kennedy / Van Dyke Parks / Jack Rieley / Brian Wilson) – The Beach Boys classic dione as an instrumental with, only, background vocals.
- Swept Away – (Steve Hunter) – A little too much straight 70s but effective.
- Sea Sonata – (Steve Hunter) – a nice mood piece and a little trippy in its first half which is effective. It then flips out with some vocals but not enough to minimise the guitar wankery going on …..
- Deep Blue – (Steve Hunter) – MOR
A good showcase for the versatility of Hunter the guitarist but a little ho-hum. One for the guitar wankers (who don’t make up most of the music buying public).
I wish I could like it more.
Not keeping it.
Eight Miles High
Sail on Sailor
- Steve Hunter played Bette Midler’s character’s guitar player in the movie "The Rose"(1979).