By Patrick Prince
Here are some releases to consider next time you're in your local record store — or for more immediate gratification, click on the 'BUY' link.
"Alone (Solo Guitar Improvisations Volume 2)"
Verheyen’s acoustic instruments of well-known musical compositions have a soothing feel. His Beatles covers are peaceful ruminations; Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is beautifully played; and the acoustic instrumental of Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street” is stunning. But Verheyen’s own composition, "Last Days of Autumn,” might be the most rewarding on the disc.
"Spacewalk — A Salute to Ace Frehley"
Ace is easy to salute (much easier than Gene and Paul). On this compilation, Ace gets it in aces. Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Snake Sabo (Skid Row) offer surprises but it is really Sebastian Bach’s all-out rocker of “Rock Bottom” and Bruce Bouillet’s rock boogie (with drum loop!) of “New York Groove” that hit it out of the park.
"Turtles All the Way Down"
With pipes in the Jon Anderson range (Dimetrius LaFavors) and progressive rock music with a semi-metallic shine, Odin’s Court is a worthy listen — and with more listening, the the band tends to grow on you. The production can be a bit tinny at times (especially the drums) but not to the point where it takes away from the music. For regular listeners, the music might take patience but Prog fans should be pleased right away. And I still have no idea what the significance of the title is, BTW.
Guitarist Scott Gailor has been around the block, and that's not a knock. He has matured quite a bit from his early-'90s hair metal days to become one of the more interesting hard rock guitar slingers around today. What you get on "Technicolor/Monochrome" is an irresistable blend of fast energy (opener "G Body Shuffle") and smooth melody ("Bodhisattva-HIghway Bound"), skipping the addictive shredding course for a pleasing guitar-instrumental full-length.
"Beyond Belief — A Tribute to Elvis Costello"
[Spyder Pop Records]
Good to save the best for last."Beyond Belief — A Tribute to Elvis Costello" is a 3-CD walloping celebration of one of the most beloved power pop virtuosos the music world has ever experienced.
There are a few duds on every tribute comp but there are plenty renditions to like on this one: Gail George's Aimee Mann-feel of “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror” charms wonderfully; the Popdudes’ take of “Kinder Murder,” Walter Clevenger's "Uncomplicated" and Hans Rotenberry's "Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)" bring edgier rock to three of Costello's lesser known gems; the pop fluency of Parallax Project’s “New Amsterdam” has a perfect flow; The Anderson Council's ska-punk shuffle of "Strict Time" stuns; Scott Bennett gets cred for shining a bright light (vocals and all instruments) on the most underrated Elvis C spark, "Green Shirt"; Jamie & Steve’s doo-wop rendition of “Blame It On Cain” is an interesting case study on genre-twisting; and how can you resist Matthew Sweet singing “Alison”?
"Beyond Belief — A Tribute to Elvis Costello" only proves Elvis Costello’s songwriting is as vast and powerful as the man's talent as performer and recording artist. No one can beat the brilliantly sardonic lullaby delivery of Costello’s voice, but this is a tribute, folks. Sit back, listen and enjoy!
Added bonus: All profits from "Beyond Belief" will benefit Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.