Written By Braddon S. Williams

Rush: Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures (1981) was the album where Rush’s songwriting skills finally matched the band’s instrumental prowess, resulting in massive sales and several signature songs from the Canadian power trio.

Tom Sawyer is the biggest hit, and rightfully so, but my personal favorite is Red Barchetta. That song paints a vivid movie in my mind every time I hear it.

The instrumental, YYZ, is a thrilling demonstration of how to make a song memorable without any vocals.

Rush knew that chops were great to have, but those skills needed to serve a well constructed piece of music in order to reach a wider audience.

Limelight was a reflection by lyricist/drummer extraordinaire Neal Peart on the effect that fame had on his personal life, yet another superbly written Rush composition.

I think Moving Pictures was where Rush found their perfect balance between their hard rock past and the more keyboard heavy direction they were headed towards. Moving Pictures is Rush at their finest.

https://youtu.be/ZiRuj2_czzw

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Paul Metheny & Lyle Mays: As Falls Wichita So Falls Witchita Falls

As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls was a collaboration between guitarist Pat Metheny and keyboardist Lyle Mays. Released in 1981, the interestingly titled album was a bit outside my accustomed listening habits at that time, but there was just something hypnotic and magical about the title track, which took up all of side one on the vinyl release.

I think, looking back, that this music was a bit advanced for my understanding at the time, but I fell in love with it nonetheless. Metheny played a variety of six and twelve stringed guitars and was an early explorer of the guitar synthesizer. Consequently, at times in this music, it becomes interesting to try to figure out who is playing certain melodic motifs, but ultimately the best course is to just put on some headphones, close your eyes and enjoy the ride.

I distinctly remember listening to this album one day sans headphones, and my father remarked that I should listen to more music like this.

He was certainly correct. Metheny and Mays made some entrancing and timeless music together.

I just researched the title and discovered that it references Wichita, Kansas, and Wichita Falls, Texas, and the cover artwork is a tribute to the lyrics of Wichita Lineman by Jimmy Webb.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Allan Holdsworth: None Too Soon

None Too Soon (1996), by Allan Holdsworth, is a jazz album that somehow manages to sound both traditional and left of center, simultaneously.

Allan Holdsworth played guitar like John Coltrane played saxophone; completely free and almost stream of consciousness.

The notes just glide off his fingers in the most entrancing

patterns, like stones skipping across a still body of water.

The songs on None Too Soon are primarily jazz standards from the likes of Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Irving Berlin, Django Reinhardt, Bill Evans, and Lennon & McCartney (not jazz, but jazzed up Beatles!).

Pianist Gordon Beck contributed 2 songs that fit right in with the better known tunes. Throughout, Beck plays wonderful accompaniment to Holdsworth’s magical solo excursions, and provides plenty of tasty soloing of his own. Allan Holdsworth was a giant of the guitar, and of music altogether. He was one of a kind, and his playing will endure.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Danny Gatton: 88 Elmira Street

Danny Gatton was a guitarist’s guitarist. He built his reputation for many years, amassing an astonishing musical vocabulary. Gatton could literally play any style like an absolute master. Rock, Rockabilly, Country, Jazz…on and on. Gatton categorized his playing as “Redneck Jazz.”

In 1991 Danny Gatton released his first major label album, the phenomenal 88 Elmira St. The all-instrumental record is a testament to the man’s versatility, and features a superb rendition of The Simpsons, the theme song from the long running iconic cartoon show.

Other notable displays of genius playing are found on Blues Newburg, Funky Mama, Slidin’ Home, Red Label, Quiet Village, and a cover of In My Room by The Beach Boys.

Sadly, Gatton took his own life 3 years later, leaving a mystery and a mighty reputation as one of the greatest players to ever grace a guitar.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Steve Vai: Passion And Warfare

I have been playing guitar for almost 44 years, and although I can’t play everything, I can pretty much understand most things that I hear…and then there’s Steve Vai!

Mr. Vai has an approach to guitar (and music in general) that is so advanced, so creative, so ALIEN, that he seems to have come from another galaxy to unleash his vision upon us.

Vai’s masterpiece, Passion And Warfare (1990), is the holy grail for guitar nerds. Every song is packed full of loving detail, virtuoso feats of technical ability, melodies that seemingly defy human imagination, and always with the basic song clearly driving the project.

Vai is an artist who uses the studio itself as a musical instrument, knowing with no hesitation just how to realize the sounds in his head and heart.

The songs on Passion And Warfare are said to be based on a series of dreams Vai had when he was younger.

Vai was quoted as saying the album represents “Jimi Hendrix meets Jesus Christ at a party that Ben Hur threw for Mel Blanc.” Every song is excellent, but some are on a whole other level, including Blue Powder, Sisters, Erotic Nightmares, The Riddle, Answers, and the breathtaking tour-de-force For The Love Of God.

Steve Vai makes music that non-musicians can love, and musicians can worship.

https://youtu.be/Yw74sDWPH7U

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Opeth: Garden of The Titans

Opeth recently released this superb Blu Ray, DVD, double live CD package, Garden Of The Titans (Opeth Live At Red Rocks Amphitheatre), from their appearance at the legendary venue in 2017.

I was fortunate to see Opeth exactly 2 days after this concert took place when they made their stop in Indianapolis. As a matter of fact, the only thing that could possibly have improved this package would have been the inclusion of the sets by openers Devin Townsend Project, and main support, Gojira.

As it stands, Garden Of The Titans features 3 future classics from the Sorceress album, and a selection of past vintage Opeth gems, such as Ghost Of Perdition, In My Time Of Need, Demon Of The Fall, Cusp Of Eternity, Heir Apparent, and the magnificent finale, Deliverance.

Mikael Akerfeldt delivers some humorous anecdotes in between songs, and per Opeth’s reputation, the video and sound are pristine.

There is a booklet of some stunning photography from the show included, also.

I love the continuing growth and exploration of Opeth. They fearlessly chart their own course, dabbling in so many styles of music (and excelling in all), always managing to sound distinctly like Opeth…they are a genre unto themselves. Opeth rules…I accept no arguments!

https://youtu.be/9In0bTUquIc

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Behemoth: The Satanist

This one comes with a disclaimer, or an explanation, perhaps would be the better term. I don’t listen to music because of an artist’s religious or political views. I listen to what I like.

I have a pretty simple system regarding musical genres and sub-genres: there are only 2 kinds of music in my universe…good and bad. It is up to the individual to sort them out. Having said all that, The Satanist (2014) by Behemoth, is a work of art.

The art in question is most often labeled Blackened Death Metal, but Behemoth’s leader, Nergal, has gone on record stating that Behemoth should not be labeled. Fair enough. Behemoth hail from Poland and have sustained a long and successful career, beginning in 1991.

For a band that has existed that long to put out a record as outstanding as The Satanist 23 years into their career is impressive, to say the least.

From the opening of Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel to the final notes of O Father O Satan O Sun!, Behemoth have poured their collective hearts and souls into something they believe in, and the proof is in every beat, every note, every riff, and every word of lyrical intent.

I don’t expect this review to generate as many “likes” as Dokken or Def Leppard, but it doesn’t really matter to me.

Music is not about competition to me…it is about conviction, passion, integrity, soul, creativity…it is about spirit.

Behemoth has that in abundance. The Satanist is a great album, maybe the best thing they will ever create together.

https://youtu.be/OGGwv3Zjq88

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind