Russell, Kevin - 2004 My Generation

ARTIST: Russell, Kevin
ALBUM: My Generation
LABEL: Shag Cut Records
YEAR: 2004

LINEUP: Kevin Russell - guitars, vocals * The Doc - bass * Cap Russell - drum programming & loops * Greg Morrow, Chris McHugh - drums * Eric Darken - percussion loops

TRACK LISTING: 01 What's Goin' On * 02 Come Together * 03 Rocket Man * 04 Lowrider * 05 My Generation * 06 Natural High * 07 Ten Years Gone * 08 Put It Where You Want It * 09 Since I Lost My Baby * 10 Spectrum * 11 Smoke On The Water * 12 Just My Imagination * 13 Beginnings * 14 She's Leaving Home


Best known to us for his searing melodic guitar work with AOR giants 707, Kevin Russell has undergone several gear shifts since then. After a period with Taxxi, he made a foray into blues and blues rock, and now most recently into what is loosely described as 'smooth jazz'.

That, however, is too much of a blanket statement to describe 'My Generation', where several tasty elements are set against each other - some rocking, some smooth, all of them rewarding. Although instrumental covers albums are not usually the centre of our focus here at Glory Daze, surely the centre of everything is melodic guitar - and of that there's plenty here.

The Songs

What's Goin' On starts us off with a warmth and tone I haven't heard since Albert King's live version of 'I'll Play The Blues For You' (on the Tomato label), bringing new life to the timeless melody through economy of notes and an intimate relationship with that trusty Gibson. While the warmth of tone pervades the entire album, so do the relaxed drum loops, which to borrow a Kinky Friedman phrase 'border on the hypnotic'.

The Beatles standard 'Come Together' gets the Russell treatment next, bringing out the wah wah pedal to great effect, combining a precise technique with playful spontaneity - you've never heard 'Come Together' like this.

Elton John's 'Rocket Man' proves to be a tour de force for Russell's command of those slow burning notes and intuitive melody, reminding the listener at times of Neal Schon's classic 'Beyond The Thunder'. War's 'Low Rider' and The Who's 'My Generation' tug out the more uptempo side to this disc, structured in such a way that the flow is never disturbed. Russell's phrasing at times reaches the sublime heights of Ernest Ranglin circa 'Below The Bassline'.

'Natural High' returns us to more sedate territory, and proves one of the bigger highlights on display - again the sheer class of the playing calls Neal Schon to mind, yet Russell always keeps his own style and identity intact; thoroughly rewarding.

Led Zeppelin's 'Ten Years After' reintroduces that hypnotic effect, perfectly blending melody with tempo, calling to mind a comment noted journalist Simon Reynolds made about his favourite Can album 'Sometimes I wonder why I bother listening to anything else,'.

The playing and standard never drop throughout the 14 tracks on offer, and further highlights include more forays into Motown/Soul territory and a cheeky, playful version of 'Smoke On The Water', in itself worth the price of admission.

Closing the disc with a version of The Beatles 'She's Leaving Home' is pretty much a masterstroke - the melancholy acoustic tones a great contrast to the rest of the album, and all the more captivating for it.

In Summary

The more cynical folk out there may dismiss this as another rock guitarist making a half hearted foray into fusion/smooth jazz, but don't we need such cynics to show us how not to go about appreciating great music? Those same cynics dismiss AOR as soulless corporate rock, but it's never stopped us from repeatedly disproving that misnomer here at Glory Daze.

'My Generation' displays such a variety of influence, flair and sheer command of melody on the electric guitar that anyone who really loves the instrument should own a copy. Add to that the blend of well known and eclectic track choices and you have a winner.

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