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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Rik Emmett

The Spiral Notebook

Review by Greg Olma

Rik Emmett has worn the guitar virtuoso hat for quite a while now. I remember reading about him back in 1979 and for a while, in the 80's, you couldn't pick up a guitar magazine without some mention of him. Well, since he severed his ties with Triumph, he has forged a career in song writing. Sure the guitar chops are still there, but he has moved away from being a great guitarist who writes songs to a great songwriter who is also a great guitarist. No longer having to write in a hard rock/heavy metal style, Rik Emmett has created a catalog of music that can't be categorized. Aside from a couple of albums, Rik throws jazz, funk, and AOR into one release. The Spiral Notebook is just that type of album. His two previous albums, Absolutely and Ipso Facto, were good records but I feel that with this collection of songs, Rik is showing us his true colors. If you are a Rik Emmett fan, you probably know of this release, but if all you remember about him is his Triumph material, I recommend this album as a starting point. It will help you realize that the guitar is only good if there is a good song to play it on.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Anything You Say
This track is very AOR sounding. It is a good song but it needs a little bit something extra to be an album opener.
Raise High
Rik Emmett goes reggae. This is one of the better cuts off the album. Even though the chorus veers a bit into religious sounding territory, the reggae feel is kept throughout. Rik adds some great guitar work at the end of the piece.
The Longing
This is the first ballad on the disc and it showcases Rik's voice more than his guitar playing. I'm not much of a ballad fan but no one does them as well as he does.
Talk It Over
This track could have been on some of the "new" country CD's. Rik doesn't have that country twang in his vocals but everything else about this cut has that AOR/Country feel.
Casey's On A Roll
There is a bit of a Steely Dan texture to this song. It is definitely one of the highlights of this album. Rik throws in a great guitar solo at the end of this track. 
Let Me Be The One
If more people knew of Rik Emmett and his music, then this number would be played at every wedding in North America. I dare anyone to listen to this and not picture a bride and groom dancing at their wedding.
Little Bitta Love
This is the kind of song Michael MacDonald from the Doobie Brothers wishes he could write. It's an upbeat cut that will have your foot tapping before the first verse is over. 
Silent Revolution
When I first heard this tune, I immediately thought it could be a theme song for a TV show - kind of like 7th Heaven only not as sappy. It is an upbeat track like most of the songs on this album but it has bit more going on in the background.
The Numbers Game
I would have to say that this is the weakest song on the whole CD. It also has a country feel but it is missing the X-factor that the other cuts have.
The Pendulum
Now this is more like it. What sounds like bongos starts off the best number on the album. All the planets were aligned on the day this piece was recorded. It's a moody track that contains some great understated guitar work.
The Hardest Part
I have never heard Rik tackle funk before but his singing and playing suits it perfectly. He also adds a scorching guitar solo in the middle. This is a perfect way to end the CD. It makes you want to go back to track 1 and start the whole album over again.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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