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Sam Coulson

Electric Classical

Review by Gary Hill

When Steve Howe left Asia again a few years ago, Sam Coulson took over as the guitarist in that band. This is his first solo album. It’s made up of Coulson’s interpretations of classical pieces. Much of this lands very clearly in the territory of classical music. There is enough rock here, though, and just the concept of this lends some progginess, to put it under progressive rock. If that wasn’t enough, Coulson’s membership in Asia solidifies this. This is a cool disc. Personally, I think I would have liked for it to take a few more chances and move a bit further beyond that classical end of the spectrum. The songs that do that a bit seem to work the best. All that said, though, it’s still quite a good release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Ave Maria - Bach/Gounod

This arrangement, with waves of sound over the top of an intricate picked guitar is so classy. It does a great job of merging the original classical textures with a more modern tapestry.

BMV 1007 Prelude - Bach
Set more in a purely classical style, this piece is also quite pretty. Sure, the modern guitar elements make it less pure classical, but this treatment really feels like a more purist kind of thing.
Op. 35 No. 22 - Sor
Here we get a piece that’s even more purely classical in nature.
Recuerdos De La Alhambra – Tarrega
This has the same waves of sound as we heard on the opening number, making it feel closer to that piece than to the last couple songs. There is some more rock based guitar on this, too.
Vals Venezolano No. 2 - Lauro
My favorite parts of this more purely classical treatment are the little chirps of ringing harmonics that are heard here and there throughout.
Op. 6 No. 11 - Sor
This is quite a pretty, and more purely classical, musical arrangement.
Moonlight Sonata Blues – Beethoven
It might be an obvious choice, but “Moonlight Sonata” has always been one of my favorite Beethoven pieces. Here Coulson turns it into a bluesy rocker. The combination works extremely well, making this one of my favorite pieces here.
BMV ANH 114 – Bach
This short piece is another acoustic guitar based arrangement.
Op. 35 No. 17 – Sor
Not a big change from the previous number, this does manage to pull an almost folk music vibe at times.
Romance – Anon
Here is another nearly purely classical guitar treatment to end the set.
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