Essential Listening, Vol. 1by The Hellecasters
The Hellecasters play some fierce guitar. Their decade and three albums are keenly summed up on this fine collection, which stuffs in representative chunks of jazz, blues, pop, rock, and country. The thing is, these vets are pretty fluid in just about everything they do, so it's occasionally tough to discern one track from another (or one player from another, for that matter). A couple of unreleased cuts and a rarity are bait for fans, but novices will get the most from Essential Listening. While it helps to be a guitar freak, this trio's blend of Allman Brothers-style jams and playful heavy metal rips solidly convinces that even prodigious technical wizards are capable of having fun.
- Release Date:
- Hightone Records
Performance CreditsHellecasters Primary Artist
John Jorgenson Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Percussion,Keyboards,Vibes,Soloist
Jerry Donahue Acoustic Guitar,Gong,Rhythm Guitar,Keyboards,Soloist,Coral Sitar
Guy Babylon Keyboards
Dennis Belfield Bass
Bob Birch Bass
Luis Conte Percussion
Steve Duncan Percussion,Drums
John Hobbs Keyboards
Donald Lindley Drums
Charlie Morgan Drums
Will Ray Guitar,Sitar,Soloist
John Davis Bass
Technical CreditsMichael McDonald Engineer
John Jorgenson Arranger,Producer,Engineer
Jerry Donahue Arranger,Producer,Engineer
Jimi Hendrix Composer
Will Ray Arranger,Producer,Engineer
Bob Kearney Engineer
Cindy Pascarello Graphic Design
Eric Nordquist Engineer
Andy Green Engineer
Jim Cowan Liner Notes,Executive Producer
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Instrumentals have been a mainstay of rock and country since their inception, and those driven by electric guitar have popped up repeatedly since the instrument¿s invention. From steel-and-guitar combos like Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant to Buck Owens & Don Rich¿s twin telecasters to British Invasion acts like The Shadows to innumerable surf bands to fusionists like Joe Satriani and recent instrumental bands like Los Straitjackets, the electric guitar has logged a lot of time in the spotlight.
The trio of guitarists that make up the Hellecasters (Fairport Convention¿s Jerry Donahue, The Desert Rose Band¿s John Jorgenson, and session picker Will Ray) are all masters of the six-string sting. Their talents include firebrand flat-picking, cozy slide playing, nearly inhuman string-bending and the sort of finger-tapping histrionics that fueled many of Eddie Van Halen¿s solos. What makes their music unique is that the guitar isn¿t spotlit for a solo, it¿s the basis. And it¿s not one virtuoso, it¿s three, trading licks and prodding each other to ever greater heights.
The band¿s fourth album, their first for Hightone, continues their application of legendary playing to a broad array of originals and a cover of Noel Redding¿s ''Little Miss Strange.'' The glee in their trio playing keeps this from being an academic exercise, though the constant onslaught of guitar pyrotechnics may be too intense for all but the guitar aficionado. As catchy as some of the melodies are, the laid-back, languorous solos are generally outweighed by dramatic, heavyweight playing. Sure to be a favorite of guitar fanatics.
3-1/2 stars, if bn.com allowed fractional ratings.