Quick plays: LARS BOUTRUP, AL DI MEOLA

LARS BOUTRUP'S MUSIC FOR KEYBOARDS - The Great Beyond

LARS BOUTRUP’S MUSIC FOR KEYBOARDS The Great Beyond
Ex’cess Records (Release date 02.03.20)

Danish keyboard wiz Lars Boutrup evokes organ grinders of a bygone age.  In doing so he also fashions his own version of classic keyboard-led rock.  ‘The Great Beyond’ is quite simply highly addictive.

There is nothing quite like hearing a Hammond organ played really well and within a tight song structure.  ‘Mr. T’ is essentially the album’s opening blast and is a perfect showcase for Boutrup’s compositional and musical talents.  A six minute workout that also evokes the very best that this genre has produced.

‘Whatever Mama Said’ could be some long lost sci-fi theme with deft orchestration punctuated by Spike Nior’s “Let There Be Drums” beats.  Similarly ‘Dripping Cycles’ sounds like something you might hear as the end credits roll.  It should come as no surprise, then, that Boutrup has composed the music or played to more than 200 silent movie pictures in Scandinavia.

If you like the albums that Geoff Downes (Yes, Asia) produced under the New Dance Orchestra moniker you will like this.  ‘The Great Beyond’ manages to not only evoke seventies bands such as the Dutch jazzy prog rockers Trace but create a groove and contemporary vibe of its own.  ****

Review by David Randall

AL DI MEOLA Across The Universe

AL DI MEOLA Across The Universe earMUSIC (Release date 13.03.20)

Al Di Meola’s last studio album – Opus – was something of a return to form as he revisited the electric fusion approach which served him well particularly in the late-1970s.

It seems that Big Al can now do what he pleases, he really has nothing to prove and therefore can engage in projects that really interest him.  On the face of it there is no real commercial or artistic benefit in retreading old Beatles tunes.

But the emotional connection is revealed on the last track which features a rescued recording of a three year old Di Meola singing ‘Octopus’ Garden’.

Di Meola’s guitaring skills are put to good use on a range of Fab Four material including ‘Here Comes The Sun’, ‘I’ll Follow The Sun’ and ‘Julia’.   As you might imagine,  the pretty “themes” are picked out rather than anything more rocky or confrontational.  I was half expecting the done-to-death ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ but it ain’t here.

Well-trodden ground, maybe, but in the hands of Al Di Meola, hallowed nevertheless.  ****

Review by David Randall

Album review (Opus, 2018)


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 30 August 2020.

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