www.grahamgreene.com.au [Release date 01.04.15]
It’s increasingly difficult for guitarists to come up with a wholly instrumental album. Where do you start? Inevitably they tend to run of ideas, they’re not that good a player, or there’s a definite sense of déjà vu. Australian Graham Greene has been around since the late 1980s first with the band Ice Tiger and then pursuing a solo path since 1998.
Whilst he’s won several major awards he’s not exactly a household name but he certainly knows his stuff. And he’s not called ‘The Satriani Of the South’ in Australia for nothing. And here lies the rub. Satriani, especially with this year’s ‘Shockwave Supernova’, lays down the benchmark for this sort of album. ‘Down Devils Road may be the next best guitar album of 2015. It’s rather sad, though, that a casual search on Amazon will not reveal this work and it is only available as a download or from the artist’s website.
As with Satriani, the emphasis is on good solid song construction, a variety in musical approach but retaining continuity. Diversity often confuses the listener but Greene’s great achievement is to blend the various strands of his playing style into a cohesive whole. Factor in consummate guitar skills and you are approaching the perfect package.
Unfortunately ‘Show Me The Money’ apes ‘Ice 9′ and ‘The Elegant Savage’ is close to ‘Surfing With The Alien’ which somewhat spoils the initial impression. But once that overt homage is out of the way it is one superb rollercoaster ride that fully engages the listener and – a failing in similar albums – the guitar domination never drags.
Only the excellent ‘Hand On The Handle’ with partner ‘Donna G’ on vocals deviates from the instrumental approach whilst tracks like ‘Spirit Fingers’ and ‘Lord Of Misrule’ demonstrate the great playing and melodic nature of Greene’s art and always underpinned by a meaty riff or three. ‘Tonight We Ride’ is like some classy TV cop show theme whilst ‘Through The Dark’ is a more extended piece which allows Greene to explore the darker side holding the listener’s attention throughout.
Title track ‘Down Devils Road’ has a splendid funky undertow which develops into a quite wonderful riff breakdown with evidence of Hammond organ providing cool counterpoint and ‘Bobbo’s Café’ is another superb bluesy funk workout.
You can’t help thinking that if Greene had stuck to this vibe throughout he would have created an even more compelling proposition but, as it stands, ‘Down Devils Road’ is pretty damn fine and an object lesson in how to do a listenable, instrumental, guitar-based rock album. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Throughout September 2018 Get Ready to ROCK! Radio celebrated the station’s 10th anniversary and a two-hour special reflected a decade of broadcasting. “10 years in the making” features archive interviews with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Todd Rundgren, Graham Bonnet, David Coverdale, John Wetton and Bob Catley.
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