This tenth anniversary collection features more than 2 hours of world-encompassing music on two compact discs, with tracks from 29 albums. Artists from nearly every continent weave sonic textures …trademe.co.nz
Though he has shown a mastery and affinity for both electric and acoustic axes, Tommy Emmanuel's Higher Octave debut, Midnight Drive, finds him focusing almost exclusively on warm yet frequently aggressive acoustic melodies, complemented here and there by the raw, plugged-in energy of Robben Ford and Larry Carlton. The overall mix is the kind that smooth jazz lovers find easy to swallow, but offers more bite and adventure than most like-minded releases in the genre. Smooth jazz radio may find an easy mark with a laid-back take of Sting's "Fields of Gold," but Emmanuel's other tracks dig deeper, showing off a stylistic chameleon drawing from the many phases of his career. His soft pop side comes out on power ballads "No More Goodbyes" and "Stay Close to Me," the latter reminding us why guest saxman Warren Hill's biggest hit to date was called "The Passion Theme." Emmanuel's more aggressive blues-rock side (honed no doubt by a few years in the progressive mid-'80s ensemble Dragon) emerges with Carlton's help on "Can't Get Enough." The striking contrast between the pastoral, folksy roads of "Drivetime" and the disc's best track, "Villa de Martin" best reflects the gamut of Emmanuel's approaches.
The Moody Blues' resumed work together after a four-year hiatus and delivered Octave in 1978, which quickly became a hit but has also proved to be a very problematic album. Picking up where he left off on Seventh Sojourn, bassist/singer John Lodge generated a hit single (and also a solid album opener) with the surprisingly edgy (for this band) rocker "Steppin' in a Slide Zone." And Justin Hayward's "Had to Fall in Love," "Driftwood," and "The Day We Meet Again" – the latter their best album closer since "Watching and Waiting" – are also up to the standard one would wish for (and a bit of a surprise, coming in the wake of two major solo projects that should have depleted his song bag)…
Those familiar with the respective musicians discographies might normally expect this affair to be a turbocharged, jazz/fusion set also featuring wacko, prog metal type characteristics. Such is not the case with this production, as these artists opt for the "unplugged" route. On the other hand, there's no lack of excitement here, as this acoustic-based power trio generates quite a bit of momentum in concert with a few ethereally enacted dreamscapes. On this release, Jonas Hellborg uses a custom made acoustic bass guitar. The electrified and generally dazzling, heavy metal-like inclinations of guitarist Buckethead are tempered into an acoustic format here, as drummer Michael Shrieve lays down a series of torrid backbeats to complement his hard-hitting, polyrhythmic fills.