DVD review: TOMMY EMMANUEL – Music Gone Public

TOMMY EMMANUEL - Music Gone Public

CGP Sounds/Music Gone Public  -  [Release date: 10.02.17]

Tommy Emmanuel, for those not in the know, is surely one of the finest exponents of the acoustic guitar on the planet.

The affable Aussie has released a fair number of DVDs over the years, most of which capture him live in concert in front of audiences keen to witness the sheer talent of the man close up.

‘Music Gone Public’ is a slightly different beast in that it culls tracks from Tommy’s many television appearances in the USA – all shot in theatres in front of a live audience but pieced together to form a collection of some of his finest performances – a live “best of” if you will.

And therein lies the only issue with this otherwise fabulous compilation – as the action hops from show to show it feels just a tad disjointed with much of Tommy’s famous between-song banter edited out.

Although this is a shame, what is not in dispute is the sheer quality of Emmanuel’s playing which frequently borders on the ludicrous.

Following glowing introductions from six string legends Les Paul and Steve Vai, things get underway with Merle Travis’ ‘Nine Pound Hammer’  – a perfect introduction to the stunning technique and sheer virtuosity of the man including playing while not fretting, fretting whilst not hitting the strings and playing the bass line and drums on his guitar simultaneously.

‘The Bug’ with its Django jazz stylings picks up the baton until a change of mood with ‘Angelina’ – a slow instrumental which sounds exactly like a guitarist’s song about his young daughter should sound with, I think, more than a tip of the hat to fellow fretsman Gordon Giltrap.

‘Guitar Boogie’ is everything you would hope the title suggests, again with stunning technique – can his fingers really move that fast, or has there been a little Robert Johnson soul selling going on at some windswept crossroads in the Northern Territory?

Another Django-fest on ‘Avalon’ is followed by ‘Mombassa’ where Emmanuel’s use of the guitar as a percussive instrument, whilst brilliant, is just a tad overdone.

The Japanese sounding ‘Miyazaki’s Dream’ is a pleasant enough and leads to ‘Blood Brother’ – a lovely song with an ear-worm of an underlying riff elevating it to what, for me, is the highlight.

‘The Trails’ is a moving tribute to the native Americans with some remarkable use of the echo/delay pedal and ‘Tall Fiddler’ again highlights Emmanuel’s fretboard pyrotechnics, played in the style of a country music fiddle player and completely stuffed with those ‘what the hell…’ moments.

Things are brought to a fitting end with a wonderful rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, weaving the classic refrain in between flurries of chiming arpeggios.

There are five ‘bonus’ tracks all of which are great in their own way, especially ‘If I Had You’ which features jazz guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli.

For fans of the acoustic guitar this is an absolute must. For those new to Tommy Emmanuel this is a great place to start. And for those who just love to hear great songs joyfully played by an engaging virtuoso this is as good as it gets.  *****

Review by Alan Jones

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