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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Eric Johnson

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Review by Gary Hill

There are a whole slew of guitar geniuses out there who often seem more interested in the scorching solo than in creating “songs” that draw people in to listen. Eric Johnson demonstrates that while he can go chop for chop with those guys, he also understands the power of a song. While not everything here fits into progressive rock, some of the songs do, and others work in as fusion (and that’s basically progressive rock since it combines rock and jazz). There are few that miss those categories, but there’s enough intriguing genre bending going on here to get this lumped into the progressive rock heading. This is a great disc that never gets boring or “samey” and always entertains. Both Steve Miller and Jonny Lang guest on the disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Awaken

This short introduction has a lot of atmospheric jazz tones built into it. It’s echoey and cool with hints of East Indian music.

Fatdaddy
Some serious fusion comes in with some killer guitar playing from Johnson. There’s so much style and power in this thing. It’s no wonder why Johnson has made such a name for himself as a guitarist. He’s as good a player as just about anyone.
Brilliant Room
The musical stylings are similar here, but there are some vocals to this piece. The guitar playing is still impeccable and there are a lot of jazzy sounds here, but the vocals are more pop rock oriented. The jazz motifs are even more prominent on the short, but exceptionally cool, instrumental section.
Texas
A serious bluesy jam this features vocals by none other than Steve Miller and guitar soloing by Jimmie Vaughn.
Gem
This cut feels like fusion blended with modern progressive rock. There are some great melodic guitar solos.
Traverse
Here’s a short instrumental that’s part melodic prog and part fusion.
Austin
There’s a killer smooth fusion element to this number. It’s got vocals from Jonny Lang. Of course, the guitar soloing is impeccable.
Soul Surprise
This instrumental combines fusion with melodic rock in a killer arrangement that really works well.
On The Way
Here’s a bouncy number that’s got a lot of country built into it. It’s another instrumental with killer guitar playing.
Arithmetic
Melodic progressive rock is the motif here. It’s a cool tune that works really well. Johnson provides the vocals on this tune and we get some killer guitar soloing from him, as well. There are definitely fusion elements here, but more than anything else this falls into the category of progressive rock.
The Sea And The Mountain
Melodic and atmospheric, this is a short instrumental number.
Vortexan
There’s a real southern rock groove to this and it’s not that far removed from the kind of instrumental jams Dixie Dregs made famous. It’s a really cool jam and Johnson provides typically killer guitar soloing.
A Change Has Come To Me
This almost feels like something that might be heard on Christian radio. It’s got a real AOR meets pop rock and fusion texture to it. It’s pretty and quite entertaining.
Change (Revisited)
A reprise of the previous cut, this one brings into an almost Hendrix-like territory. And, in fact, we get a Hendrix guitar solo quote for a short bit of the piece.
Your Book
This is less progressive rock than some of the other stuff, but really fits into an AOR kind of style.
 
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