Retrowrek Records [Release date 07.04.17]
Bernie Torme I first came across via his days in Gillan and loving the band’s performance of ‘New Orleans ‘ on ‘Top Of The Pops’. Then I didn’t really take much notice of his solo work until the much missed and impressive GMT, that featured fellow Gillan band mate John McCoy.
Torme certainly has kept himself busy since then and now unleashes a triple album – two albums of all new material, one electric and one acoustic, plus a live album recorded last year on tour. The album hit its pledge funded target in under nine hours highlighting the loyalty and love of his music his fans have.
First up the electric album…Bernie Torme’s guitar playing is something else! The trademark dive bomb style is in evidence, along with electrifying blues playing on ‘Power Of The Blues’. ‘Hair Of The Dog’ is a monster of a rock tune, again plenty of guitar action on this one and a strong, melodic chorus.
Nice little look back as his musical past on ‘Way It Rolls’, whilst on ‘Janus (Pt 1&2), he lets fly with some tasty spacey guitar solos and effects. The later gives the only real respite in an otherwise full on rocking, in your face album.
Over on the acoustic album you simply must listen to ‘Shine’. What a piece of music this is, from the opening birdsong and gentle guitar strumming, through to the trippy feel later as the progresses . The song would appeal to prog rock fans (especially as it clocks in at over eleven minutes) and many others. Such a stark contrast to the electric album and it so damn good. Next up the acoustic slide on blues/Americana ‘Morning Raga’, where you can almost sense Mr Torme wants to rip it up on a electric guitar on the mid-section!
The howls in ‘Wolfgirl’ reminded me of Warren Zevon’s classic ‘Werewolf In London’, a gentle song that like the rest of the album shows Bernie Torme is perfectly at ease playing acoustically.
The live set includes plenty of classics from across his career including a suitably raucous version of GMT’s ’Rocky Road (From Dublin)’ and ‘Wild West’, complete with a suitably OTT solo. The two Gillan classics, ‘New Orleans’ (his guitar filling in for Colin Towns’ original piano parts very nicely) and ‘Trouble’ get a suitably rousing reception from the crowd and Torme’s fingers are flying all over his guitar, wonderful stuff.
The word essential can often be overused in reviews, however this album really is that and then some. Two albums to rock out to and then one to wind down and chill out with, perfect. ****1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
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Power Plays w/c 20 September 2021 (Mon-Fri)
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