This 45-song, two-disc collection is subtitled "two decades of killer fretwork", and never was a set so aptly described. Chess Records was the home to seemingly every hot guitar player in the Chicago area, and many of them make their appearance here. Besides the usual label guitar hotshots (Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Lowell Fulson, Earl Hooker, Otis Rush, Robert Nighthawk, Little Milton), space is given to sideman work from legends like Hubert Sumlin and Robert Jr. Lockwood and great one-offs by lesser-known artists like Jody Williams, Danny Overbea, Eddie Burns, Joe Hill Louis, Morris Pejoe, Lafayette Thomas and others. It seems as if everyone recorded for Chess at one time or another, also explaining the inclusion of tracks by John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Lonnie Brooks, Hound Dog Taylor and Elmore James. If electric blues guitar's your thing, then look no further than this fine two-disc compilation.
With song titles as vivid as the music produced by this instrumental quartet, Krobak brings its global brand of post-rock to the masses. (Not really, but if Kscope had released Little Victories instead of the Russian label MALS, this thing would have gotten a lot more attention.) The Ukrainian band's epic wall of sound erected by bass, guitar, drums and a dominant violin is created by four musicians. Of the five songs here, with such titles as "And There By the River I Lost My Glasses," "Broken (Are Little Victories By the Ship of Life)" and "It's Snowing Like It's The End of the World," "Last Days of Summer" proves to be the most effective and worthy of vocals. But these songs, which traverse so many moods and landscapes over the course of 50 minutes, don't need words. Rather, Little Victories reaffirms the value of instrumental music.
Steve Hackett's later material is somewhat different from his '70s and '80s work, in that the guitar playing tends to be less progressive and lengthy, verging more on rock-blues and basic string arrangements. The emergence into this style is showcased on Guitar Noir, as Hackett displays a more mature side to his instrumental prowess. Each song is given one line of interpretation from Hackett in the liner notes, as the songs range from the life of a prostitute to the onslaught of television in the household. Only two of the 12 songs are without vocals, but words have no affect on Hackett's beautiful passages anyway…
Alfredo Rodríguez's fourth studio album was recorded in just two days, with a majority of the songs being done impressively in one take. Over the past decade he has gone from a young local Cuban artist to a globally recognized Grammy®-nominee. As jazz music sees a resurgence in younger audiences, Rodríguez is leading the way for the new wave of Cuban musicians.
This lesser-known set by Nat Adderley teams the likable cornetist with either Jim Hall or Kenny Burrell on guitar and the Junior Mance Trio (which consists of pianist Mance, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Mickey Roker). Nat wrote all eight selections and, even though none would catch on (a la "Work Song"), several of the numbers are quite memorable and are deserving of revival. "Loneliness" sounds properly desolate, "Roses for Your Pillow" is a superior ballad and most of the other songs are filled with joy, including "El Chico," "Half-Time" and "Broadway Lady." A fine obscurity recorded at a time when Nat was one of the stars of his brother Cannonball Adderley's Sextet.
There are a lot of good songs on this five CD compilation that take you back to better times and real music. This is definitely a great companion CD set when taking a road trip…you can rock for hours!