"Adult: A person that has stopped growing at both ends but not
in the middle."
by Richard Karsmakers
Throughout the ages there have always been - and there will
always be - obscure little bands who release obscure little CDs
or LPs. This columns tries to shed some light on the stuff that
lurks beneath the level of general taste for some reason or
other. Some of it will no doubt be pretty diabolic, but once in a
while one might find a true little gem.
SLAUGHTER - STRAPPADO
There are two bands called Slaughter. One is a girly band with
pretty boys one of which is called Dana Strum I seem to recall.
The other is a Canadian band that experienced birth (and death,
I guess) somewhere in the late mid eighties.
Again, as above with "Destroyer", I found this rather ancient
stuff lying around in the basement. I thought I'd spend some time
on it here, as recently some company has found it necessary to
release this album on CD.
I had bought the album after having heard it at a friend's (hi
THH!). I had liked its boundless aggression for some reason or
other, and bought it the day after first having heard it. Once I
listened to it at home I thought it was crap. It's not melodic at
all, the drums are way too loud, vocals are bad and the songs
(like "F.O.D. (Fuck Of Death)") were just as pathetic.
To check if my musical taste had gone sufficiently down the
drain, I listened to the album again, probably for the first time
in 7 or 8 years. It's just as bad as it ever was, maybe with the
exception of one song by the name of "Nocturnal Hell" that has a
vague familiar ring and equally vage rhythm.
No. I'd have to give this one a pass again. And that doesn't
even take into consideration the fact that it's absurdly short:
VARIOUS ARTISTS - GUITAR'S PRACTISING MUSICIANS VOL. 2
The other day I came across this CD lying in the "SALE" box at
the local Free Record Shop (one of the many). For once I found
myself driven to buying a CD not from my regular CD shop, "White
Noise". I initially bought the CD because it had a track by Jason
Becker on it, "Meet Me in the Morning". As with Satriani and
Malmsteen, I want to have every note recorded by Jason. Not just
because he deserves it but also because he's pretty damn
brilliant and grotesquely underrated. Some of the other tracks
also seemed appealing to me, such as those by Nuno Bettencourt,
Mark Wood and Fates Warning.
I guess this CD is fairly obscure - or at least just unknown -
so I think it fits neatly in this column. It's a Japan import CD
made in 1991. Not that old, even. The best way to tell you about
it is just to go through the individual songs.
"White Noise" by Marc Bonilla is too typical happy-go-lucky up-
beat virtuoso guitar music for me. A feeling that I had heard
something similar before struck immediately.
"Too Much of a Good Thing (Where's the Hook)" by Nuno
Bettencourt (of Extreme) also got the same sensation going. It
didn't stick out from other tunes I'd heard before, though I
could easily trace Nuno's more brilliant technique in the really
fast guitar bits. Often, guitar wizards just tend to play a bit
that would otherwise have been done by a singer, something which
I didn't like about Bonilla's track and those of many others
heard before. Nuno has some really brilliant true solo bits. That
made this track one of the better.
"Galaxy 500" by Brad Gillis is, I think, a beautiful little
tune. he uses some really interesting guitar techniques (please
don't ask me what they're called, for my techno babble in the
guitar fields starts and ends with with "hammer on" and "pull
off"). Also, it just sounds great and the composition is a good
"Smell Yourself" by Steve Lukather is, according to the credits,
a quick composition from an album that in itself took three hours
to record. This immodesty aside, what you get is an OK-sounding
instrumental with nice solo spots but keyboards that sounded like
I had heard the same thing before (on a Stuart Hamm record I seem
to recall). It's quite a nice song, recorded live.
"L.A. a La Mode" by Billy Sheehan is quite a brilliant song.
Well, it's not actually a song but an intricate and superb 4-
minute bass solo. It really made me wonder why this excellent
musician, teamed up with other excellent musicians such as Paul
Gilbert in Mr. Big, succeeds in making such utter drivel like "To
be with You" and that horrible Cat Stevens cover that is has
reached high spots in the hit parades. Basically "L.A. a La Mode"
is a try-out of a freak technique, but it sounds impressive
"Eileen" by Ed King is a song that I don't like too much,
probably because it has vocals and sounds like just any ordinary
radio airplay song. The guitar bits are quite good, of course,
but I think it doesn't really fit.
"Never Look Back (Original Demo)" by Blues Saraceno (who is
supposed to be the new guitarist of Pioson after Richie Kotzen
who replaced C.C. DeVille) is quite a neat song. For starters
he's a good guitarist (excellent actually) and second I like the
compositions. He lays down some great bass, too, and his guitar
technique is pregnant of classical influences that I like. The
drums are a bit cliché for the genre though. A bit short, too.
"Picture This" by Steve Morse is absolutely superb. It's a one-
take-no-dub-pseudo-live acoustic song which is great to listen
to. It falls into the same category as Satriani's "Tears in the
Rain" and "Baroque", i.e. technically excellent and good to
listen to all in one go.
"The Howling" by Mark Wood is a piece envisioning the hunting of
werewolves at night. Subtle use of keyboards gets this across
better than the actual guitar parts - er, hold a minute, they're
actually violin parts. The violin parts, though perhaps not all
to reminiscent of werewolves stalking, are...I am beginning to
run out of superbs, excellents and greats here...let's try "K-
Roget"...er...prodigious. They don't sound like a violin much,
actually, but in some way they appeal to me a lot.
"Zeptune" by Bruce Kulick (guitarist of Kiss) is not an
especially brilliant song where guitar technique is concerned.
It's more like a nicely heavy rock tune, though not one of those
that would get a lot of radio exposure. Guitar work is really
nice, the basic groove is typically Led Zeppelin (hence its name)
and the drums don't sound at all like the drum computer they are.
And the end is interesting, too.
"Funkcaution" by Steve Stevens features Mr. Stevens on all
instruments except the sax. It's actually a pretty...er...what
shall I saw...marvellous song, probably mainly because the bass
has a nice driving power to it. Technically it's more than
"A Minor Disturbance" by Randy Coven. At least that's what the
track listing says, though it's co-composed by Jack Starr and
Mark Wood and the guitar is actually played by Al Pitrelli (Coven
is a bass player). There's even a Mark Wood violin solo. Although
I personally think it might be a bit too repetitive, it's another
"Meet Me in the Morning" by Jason Becker. Or at least performed
by him and some others, though originally composed by Bob Dylan.
It's a cover with vocals, which would have been an average top of
the pops song if it hadn't been for the incredibly cool and
subtle notes played by Jason. I mean he claims his playing was at
50%, but I'd give my right hand to play like that, sortof. I've
never heard such mellow guitar playing, reminiscent of Michael
Lee Firkins but somehow different, with more sparkles as it were.
"At Fate's Fingers" by Fates Warning is basically the Fates
Warning song "At Fate's Hand" without vocals and with extra solos
thrown in. Dream Theater's Kevin Moore hosts on this track of
which the original version can be found on the album "Perfect
Symmetry". A great song on all accounts, much like the original
but a tad better. Frank Aresti and Jim Matheos take turns with
the solos. I'd never seen these guys as guitar heroes, and I
still don't. The stuff they play is exquisite (there, I didn't
even have to use "K-Roget" for that one) but not a load of guitar
flashing stuff. A great song anyway.
"McCarthy at the Levee" by Reeves Gabrels is kindof a weird
track for most of the time. I believe he normally plays with Tin
Machine (yes, the David Bowie thing). According to the credits
there are some weird sound of vibrators and electric razors on
the pickups, but I couldn't hear them. It's one of the more
average tracks on the album, with occasional moments of near-
"Cliffs of Dover" by Eric Johnson is a live recording taped in
concert at Austin in 1990 I think. A quite beautiful song,
despite the fact that the middle section is too much of a guitar
licks show-off. The beginning and end bits are really quite
beautiful, and really sounding a lot like one of my fave
guitarists, Mads Eriksen.
Concluding, I think this is a great album, with one the odd
average track amid guitar greatness. I like it rather more than,
for example, the "Ominous Guitarists from the Unknown". I don't
think anyone who likes guitar music will be disappointed after
having bought this.
A true guitar gem indeed.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - CZECH MASTERS OF ROCK GUITAR
A few days prior to the release of this issue of ST NEWS, an
American pen pal sent me a tape containing, among other things,
"Czech Masters of Rock Guitar". I guess this is quite obscure,
even though the's American and got her hands on it there. As
usual with 'various artists' recordings, I think it's best if I
mention the (all instrumental) songs one by one, with some
remarks about the persons who play them.
Jaroslav Janecky's "Hammering Style" has you firmly in your seat
from the beginning, sounding like Malmsteen on speed or
something. He also builds his guitars himself, and is in a band
called Mr. K.O.
Lubos Andrst's "Prints" is rather more soulful, though I think
the underlying keyboard themes could be overhauled and made to
sound less 'happy'. Lubos has made many albums in many bands,
most of them bluesy.
Milos Markovsky's "Caress Me And Bit Me" is a song with plenty
of speed changes, experiments and fast guitar runs, though I
think the guitar isn't mixed as well as it could be. His parents
didn't allow him to buy a guitar so he build it himself. He now
plays other custom guitars. He has been in several bands since
Petr Roskanuk's "Honey, Said the Pig" sounds a lot like Michael
Lee Firkins. It's quite weird but sounds nice nonetheless, with
lots of slide, then a sudden turning point transforming it into a
more bluesy tune. The latter half tend to lack the true sorrowful
feel of the genre, though. He has contributed to lots of albums,
solo and with other bands, and has even done music scores for
short films and, would you believe it, ads.
Radim Hladik's "Tearoom" starts off as a really quiet song that
is not my style at all, even a bit repetitive. But then it gains
momentum and becomes quite good actually, with acoustic guitar
and Hammond organ thrown in. Quite a neat climax actually. He did
about a dozen records, and the booklet says he's "a legendary as
well as contemporary personality". Their English could certainly
do with an overhaul.
Frantisek Jordak's "Race with Time" is, as the title would have
you believe, a fast-paced song. The credits say he sounds a lot
like Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore and MacAlpine, and he does. But that
doesn't mean he's bad. He's actually quite good, and certainly
lightning fast. He's born in 1967, and has been with a band
called Worlram since 1988.
Petr Janda's "Schweden Bitter" (probably meant to mean "Swedish
Bitter") is a really dreamy guitar song, almost sounding as if
the guitar is far off until it suddenly gets quite fast and only
the keys remain sortof dreamy. The credits say he's legendary,
and his having recording almost two dozen records of which many
became gold (i.e. selling over 200,000 copies). He is said to
have 350 compositions to his name. Anyway, he's actually quite
Michal Pavlicek's "Lonely" is a rather nice and driving tune,
with church organs in the background, quieter passages, quicker
passages, and overall quite good. It's not a track that stands
out particularly, even though he has won countless awards
(including "guitarist of the year" twice) in his own country.
Ivan Jerabek's "Once Upon a Time in the East" is another song
with a good drive, but I don't like the drummer's way of using
the cymbals. The climax, the end, is genuinely impressive and
played at almost superhuman speed.
Stanislav Jelinek's "Hot Needle" has an "film end titles" sound
to it. You can just see actor names scroll off a virtual screen.
Perhaps the name of the tune is derived from the fact that it's
got a climax in the middle, as if the rest are merely a prologue
and epilogue of a hot needle entering your body. Heroin
connotations? Guitar work is quite good, even with a few
Satriani-esque techniques thrown in. The bass is crisply
produced, perhaps a bit too much so. The end bit is jawdroppingly
fast (yes, another one of those).
Miroslav Mach's "Anonym" (i.e. "anonymous", I suppose) is an
up-tempo rocker. Arpeggios galore, and even some of the best and
flashiest bass guitar work on the whole album. It has interesting
tempo changes and I like the overall composition too. This may
just be my favourite on the album.
It seems like Czechoslovakia (or whatever these two countries
are called after having separated) is like a can of talented rock
guitarists ready to be pulled open. I'd guess these guys would
jump at the chance of working with an English or American band,
so all that need happen is for some record company hot shot to
check out the Czech scene and get some of these chaps over. If
you ever get across this album (I am not sure whether it's
available on CD), and if it's not too expensive and you like
guitar music, you're bound to like it. I think it's notably
better than Hungarian Tamas Szekeres' "Guitar Tales", for one,
yet Tamas has a lucrative record deal and two CDs out.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.