Sunday, November 05, 2006

Steve Hunter - Swept Away (Atco 1977)


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The legendary guitarist for Mitch Ryder, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and session man for Aerosmith, among others, creates a monumental solo disc with Kiss/Pink Floyd wizard Bob Ezrin and co-producer Brian Christian. Opening with a deluxe instrumental version of the Byrds' "Eight Miles High," for fans of '70s rock, this collection contains many revelations. "Eldorado Street" is a variation on Steve Hunter's magnificent composition simply titled "Intro" that was the opening number at Lou Reed shows starting on September 1, 1973, when the "Rock & Roll Animal Band" took stage at Lenox, MA, for the first time. The intro mutated during the tour and may have even inspired John Cougar Mellancamp's song "I Need a Lover." Reed reportedly had a band called L.A. & the Eldorados, so perhaps the title is a tip of the hat to Hunter's former lead singer. The traditional tune "Goin' Down" is arranged by Hunter and includes his first vocal on the disc. It's a country-style folk tune reminiscent of Robert Johnson. A progressive instrumental entitled "Rubberman" sounds like the Edgar Winter Group on the verge of taking on Average White Band, anathema to Hunter's fans, but his guitars save the day and keep it from falling into the funk zone. "Of All Times to Leave" is pretty, a simple excursion into the mood set by the album cover, seagulls and seashore. An absolute gem here is a totally brilliant instrumental version of the Beach Boys' classic "Sail on Sailor." This take is innovative, creative, with background vocals coming out of nowhere. It is a treat and seems to set up the "theme side" of the Swept Away album -- the magic of water. A well-produced title track (also instrumental) seems to be the second of a four part suite -- its melodies blending into the "Sea Sonata" -- a tour de force with guitars, a subdued but effective vocal, and classic Bob Ezrin production. "Deep Blue" concludes the album, with bending guitars, almost Hawaiian -- and conjuring up imagery from George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album. Though Harrison has a song of the same name, this is a Hunter original. A textbook for musicians who should be studying the work of this great session man, and a treasure chest for fans of Reed, Cooper, Ryder, and '70s guitar sounds.

11/05/2006 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a wonderful blog...much appreciated even if lazy [non] commentors can't be bothered to say so. You've turned me on to some great new [& some forgotten] sounds...please keep up the great work

1/18/2007 11:50 AM  

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