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Paul Gilbert - 'Stone Pushing Uphill Man' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/12/fe/6f/paul-gilbert-stone-pushing-uphill-man-5-1419457625.jpg Hot

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Guitar worshippers and skeptics alike should get a real kick out of it.

As a die-hard Mr. Big fan I've spent a lot of time (and money!) investigating each member's solo material to continue to feed my MB fix. Paul Gilbert kicked his solo career off in 1998 with 'King Of Clubs', a quirky collection of Pop-Rock tunes with big melodies. Those expecting Gilbert to shred were seriously disappointed, but for me, I loved his song-writing. They only got better, with 'Flying Dog' and 'Alligator Farm' having some great moments, before he released my favourite to date, 'Burning Organ' in 2002.

After 2005's 'Space Ship One', Gilbert moved away from the formula of Rock vocal songs, nestled next to one or two instrumentals per record, to full blown instrumental albums. While the playing was high caliber, I find Rock instrumental records a bit tedious and yearn for a singer. 2012's 'Vibrato' saw Gilbert return to singing, although the record was more of a 50/50 split between vocal and instrumental songs.

The oddly titled 'Stone Pushing Uphill Man' is a very different beast. Gilbert has elected to cover some songs by his favourite acts, but he has decided to perform the vocal lines on guitar, working very hard to get the phrasing as close to the original as possible. An ambitious idea, I had my doubts, but the cover of Loverboy's 'Working For The Weekend' kicks things off and sounds really good. The upbeat energy is there, as are Gilbert's trademark tones, and the vocal melody on guitar is a tribute to Gilbert's mastery of his instrument. Better still is the amazing rendition of Aerosmith's 'Back In The Saddle', where Gilbert replicate's Steven Tyler's notes so well, I happily sang along despite no vocalist being present.

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The effort Gilbert has gone to make his guitar "sing" is phenomenal, his use of tone, the way he's played the notes thinking as a singer rather than a guitarist, makes this a highly unusual and engaging album. From the Funk of James Brown's 'I Got The Feelin'' to Elton John's 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', Gilbert spans genre after genre and nails them all. With tracks by The Police, The Beatles and k.d. lang, interspersed with original material like 'Shock Absorber', it's an album which feels like Gilbert is doing exactly what he wants to do.

The title track closes the album and is the only song which does feature a real vocal. Gilbert steps up and delivers it well, rounding things off nicely. Normally instrumental albums are a bit tedious for me, but this one is a breath of fresh air. Guitar worshippers and skeptics alike should get a real kick out of it.

James Gaden

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Johns Band said:

...
Listening on YouTube and find this amazing piece of work - Will have to obtain the vinyl album.
 
March 09, 2017
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