Although to many he’s best known as the guitarist in Mr Big, Paul Gilbert has actually released far more solo albums than Mr Big albums. Following a recent move to Portland, Oregon, he set out to make a new solo album working with some of the other musicians in the area. He enlisted Brian Foxworth to play drums, Asher Fulero (keyboards) and after finding his first choice guitarist Kelly Lemieux was unavailable due to being on tour with Buckcherry, he recrtuited New Orleans bass player Roland Guerin. After Brian Foxworth collapsed during the recordings Reinhardt Melz and Bill Ray were brought in to record the rest of the drums.
One bit I found very strange at first is Paul Gilbert’s writing process – he starts with the lyrics. Why is that strange? Well that’s easy – it’s an instrumental album, so no vocals or lyrics (with the exception of one track). On further thought it makes a lot of sense. If you take a typical song but remove the vocals and don’t replace them with anything, what you get usually feels slightly lacking. Guitarists Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert both take the approach of replacing the vocals with guitar – so not the normal guitar parts you’d find in a song where they support the vocals, but using the guitar to play the vocal parts. That means you get the melodies that the vocals would normally deliver and the songs feel more like complete songs rather than parts of a song.
Check out the opening track, “Havin’ it”…
This album isn’t just rock, or blues, or even blues-rock – there’s rock certainly, some blues, and also some Jazz. That means there’s quite a diverse range of sounds here and it makes the album a lot more interesting as the variety means that each song sounds different to the one before it and the one after it.
The song titles are quite bizarre – without knowing what the original lyrics were there’s no way to know just how some of these track names came about, but with titles like “Let that battery die”, “I own a building” and “I love my lawnmower” it’s definitely not a typical album tracklist.
The only track to feature vocals is “A herd of turtles” where he attempts a Liverpudlian accent to recite a poem that’s sandwiched between the instrumental parts of the songs. I’m not quite sold on this one – it’s the weakest track here in my opinion.
Check out “Things can walk to you”, which I think is a great track..
This is definitely one of the best instrumental albums I’ve heard recently. Well worth checking out.
1. Havin’ it
2. I own a building
3. Everywhere that Mary went
4. Love is the saddest thing
5. Sir, you need to calm down
6. Let that battery die
7. Blues for rabbit
8. Every snare drum
9. A snake just bit my toe
10. I love my lawnmower
11. A herd of turtles
12. Things can walk to you