Mind’s Eye Music [Release date 09.10.19]
What does a still-relevant guitarist do when his main band says farewell? You keep releasing solo albums, that’s what. Vinnie Moore’s last solo outing was in 2015 – Aerial Visions – but in fairness since that time he has been kept busy with UFO.
‘Soul Shifter’ is a great vehicle for the guitarist and runs the whole gamut from funk rock to metal. If you liked his playing in UFO you will like this. In that band, Moore proved that he was well capable of not only matching earlier sorties by the likes of Michael Schenker but stamping his own sense and sensibility.
‘Funk Bone Jam’ opens up shop in fine fashion, and demonstrates a well considered meld of guitar and rhythm with Moore emerging from the breakdown section in fine, characteristic, lyrical style. A similarly funky vibe features on ‘Kung Fu Grip’ and ‘Gainesville Station’ (with a piano solo by Jordan Rudess).
Wholly instrumental albums especially guitar-based rise and fall on both the strength of the player and the songs. Moore evidences that the best guitar players not only have to display technical brilliance but the ability to tell stories, a fact that hasn’t been lost on Joe Satriani.
Moore’s own musicality is well demonstrated on pieces like the easy going ‘Same Sun Shines’, the very fine ‘Mystified’, ‘Mirage’ and ‘Across The Ages’. And, he doesn’t fall into a common solo trap of trying to be all things to all men (and women), the album has a cohesive theme with the emphasis on song structure rather than the florid display of different styles.
Moore’s good taste and judgment means the album repays repeat listening whilst throughout he’s aided by fine players including Rudy Sarzo (bass) and John Cassidy (keyboards). There’s also a jazz/metal feel in places that takes us back to when Moore first recorded for the legendary Shrapnel label in the late-1980s.
Given UFO’s passing, ‘Soul Shifter’ is a very welcome reminder of their very fine guitarist. *****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
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