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Various Artists

Guitar Masters Collection

Review by Gary Hill

This various artists collection was assembled by Brian Tarquin. He's a guitar player who really seems to have a reverence for great guitar playing in all its various forms. This album showcases a lot of both the great guitar playing and the various forms. Although the bulk of it lands under fusion (and we put fusion under prog in general), there is Latin acoustic guitar, hard rock, funk and more in the mix on this set. There are a number of noteworthy musicians here, and every single track is a winner. If you love great guitar work (and exceptional playing on other instruments, too), give this a try. You will not likely find yourself disappointed.

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Track by Track Review
Skippy featuring Allan Holdsworth & David Hines
Although this starts with a bit of amplifier noise, that's just plugged into the track. It launches out into some killer fusion as it really kicks into being. This is melodic and quite a powerhouse with a number of cool shifts and changes. There is some amazing guitar work on this along with a lot of awesome instrumental sounds in general. A drop back to a bass led movement is intriguing and effective.
Tocar Modera featuring Larry Coryell & Brian Tarquin

A count in gives way to some screaming hot guitar work that's almost metal. They drive out from there into a killer jam with some fusion and world music at the heart of it. This reminds me of a harder rocking version of Santana in a lot of ways. The cut gets the use of both distorted and clean guitar soloing. It also has some great changes. There is some pretty awesome keyboard work on this, too. The percussion breakdown is a nice touch, too.

Funk Me Tender featuring Steve Vai & Randy Coven

As you might guess of a song with that title, this has a lot of funk in the mix. That said, it's also packed with killer near metal moments and a lot of fusion. I love the bass work on this, particularly the funky solo. The guitar playing is amazing, too, though.

I Wish featuring Zakk Wylde & Randy Coven

With Zakk Wylde's name on this, one might expect a metal song. That's not what we get at all. This is so funky, and overall still feels like the music of the man who wrote it and originally performed it, Stevie Wonder. This is just harder rocking than Wonder's version. There are vocals on this that are delivered in fine rocking style. Again the bass work is exceptional. The whole cut is just plain on fire. In fact, this is one of my favorite things here.

Hair featuring Stanley Clarke & Joe Satriani
A version of the tune from the musical, this has such a funky groove to it here. It's another with vocals in the mix. This time around we get both male and female vocals. This is mostly fusion, but there is a definite Parliament Funkadelic kind of vibe here, too.
Tarquinius Maximus featuring Chris Poland & Brian Tarquin
This instrumental makes good use of both mellower and harder rocking stuff. It's part fusion and part near metal. It's a killer cut that works really well.
Mother Load featuring Leslie West & Randy Coven
While there are hints of psychedelia in the mix here, this is more fusion oriented than it is anything else. That said, it does get some particularly hard rocking stuff added to the mix at times. It's another killer tune on a disc that's full of them.
Ricarda featuring Hal Lindes
Intricate acoustic guitar riffs are on the menu here as this starts. It works out toward a Spanish styled acoustic guitar solo from there. That motif, with some exceptional instrumental work, serves as the basis for the rest of the song.        
Antilla featuring Allan Holdsworth & David Hines
They launch straight into some killer fusion as this starts. This is quite an entertaining fusion ride. It has some killer bass work. Then again, everything here is tasty. There are hints of things that feel a bit like UK. This is packed full of shifts and changes, and has some amazing instrumental work. There is some seriously powerful guitar soloing in the later section of the piece.
Blue Wind featuring Billy Sheehan, Doug Doppler & Brian Tarquin
Coming in hard-edged and energized, this powerhouse is part fusion and part hard rocker. It's all cool. It's also often incendiary. When it's over, the only thing I thought was, "wow!"
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