Saturday, 6 February 2010

Various Artists - The Guitar Players

The Guitar Players
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from MRL 410

Ernie Wilkins & His Orchestra - Thank You

Shad gets pretty desperate for product placement on this one, even more so than with some of the other compilations released at the tail-end of Mainstream's run. This one's culled haphazardly from previously available material (whereas Jazz and Booty featured session out-takes) with little regard to a genre-centred theme (whereas Yesterday=Bop, Get It Together=Funk & Soul, Billie Holiday Revisited=Billie Holiday). Running the
gamut from blues to bossa to bop with bits of funk and rock for good measure, there's a distinct lack of continuity in the programming. Not only that, he's fudged some of the artists' names, giving performance credit to whomever the guitar player was on the track in hopes that their current fortunes would inculcate success at the cashier's counter.

Ernie Wilkins' cover of Sly Stone's "Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" from Hard Mother Blues is credited entirely to David Spinozza (and spelled incorrectly to boot), who was only one of four guitarists for that session. However, Spinozza had grown in stature since this set, appearing on a multitude of classic albums and was dating Yoko Ono at the time while her and John Lennon were separated. In other words, besides being a hot property in the studio and on many charting albums, his newsworthy name was also popping up in gossip rags.

In much the same spirit David T. Walker and Arthur Wright, two indisputable dominators of the six-string domain, are named as the artists for Afrique's "Dueling Guitars" from the monster funk album Soul Makossa. At least there's some truth-in-advertising on this one and a close call for Shad to make: go with the names of the highly-respected session strummers or with the faceless studio creation who provided the label with a Top 40 R&B album the year before. Since Walker, who was highly prolific at this point in his career, remains a legend and Afrique was eventually forgotten by all but the most fanatic funksters, he probably made the proper strategic decision in this case.

Shad also wears his disdain for Paul Jeffrey's debut set on his sleeve as discussed previously in the post for Watershed. However, it's hard to wag the finger too vigorously in his direction for using Jack Wilkin's name since his fiery performance on the album is not only a show-stealer, it was also the impetus for Shad to extend a recording offer to the young guitarist.

More sensibly, Shad credited Ted Nugent for the cover of Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go" from his band's self-titled debut album The Amboy Dukes. While the Dukes were largely an outdated garage band clinging to past glories by this time, the Nooge's antics and knuckle-dragging guitar style was gathering steam and the Motor City Madman had yet to release his first album sans The Dukes. Another fine example of Shad's savvy marketing skills and crafty cash-in tactics.

Save for dropping Sonny Terry's name from the famous blues duo, t
he rest of the tracks are properly credited. In fact, Jim Raney is once again given the nod for "Move It," which originally appeared on his lovely album Two Jims and Zoot during Mainstream's first run in the 60s but was reissued under Zoot Sims' name as Otra Vez in the MRL series.

Ultimately, Shad simply slapped together an album with minimal musical cohesion to maintain maximum marketing impact. This doesn't preclude quality entirely and the Jay Berliner tracks - in addition to those of Afrique, Paul Jeffrey, Jim Raney and Ernie Wilkins - are highly recommended if you haven't already heard them on their respective releases. While actually a very good representative of the myriad flavours to be found in the MRL catalogue, it's much more likely to please all of the people some of the time than some of the people all of the time.

1 Afrique - Dueling Guitars [David T. Walker & Arthur Wright]
2 Amboy Dukes - Baby Please Don't Go [Ted Nugent]
3 Jay Berliner - Papa Was A Rolling Stone
4 Lightning Hopkins - Lightning's Blues
5 Jay Berliner - Getting The Message
6 Ernie Wilkins & His Orchestra - Thank You [David Spinozza]
7 Paul Jeffrey - Minor Scene [Jack Wilkins]
8 Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Man Ain't Nothing But A Fool
9 Jim Raney - Move It

Get your gitbox fix from Soundological HERE or HERE.

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