Following on the heels of his massively entertaining The Manhattan Blues Project, guitarist Steve Hunter (Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, et al) returns with Tone Poems Live. He's joined by some talented musical heavy hitters from the industry: Tony Levin on bass (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) Phil Aaberg on keyboards (Elvin Bishop, Peter Gabriel) and Alvino Bennett on drums (Dave Mason, Robin Trower).
For the sake of clarification, this is not a traditional 'live' recording as before an audience in a musical venue. Rather the music was recorded live, both by audio and video, in the studio for a CD and DVD, both sold separately. The band rehearsed two days, and then filmed on the third day, playing each song twice. In this review, I'm speaking to the CD as somebody forgot to send me the DVD for consideration. There's also some differences in both presentations. The DVD has fourteen tracks, the CD only eleven. (You can investigate further for yourself.)
The song selection is mostly from the breadth of Hunter's solo career. However, he does do a few covers: Stevie Ray Vaughn's Riviera Paradise, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (absent from the CD), and Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill. After this, what you can expect is Hunter's smooth and soulful, nearly immaculate guitar playing. Often he has reminded me of Carlos Santana in his delivery, only slightly slower, but equally articulate. The sound from the rhythm section is equally fluid and flawless, adding a groove that intersects between vibrant and subtle, a real compliment to Hunter's style. Perhaps the most simple observation I have from listening to this album is that it's nearly to perfect. Even with no additional overdubs in post production, this still sounds like a 'studio' recording that was worked and polished to perfection. Hence, excepting the fact that a visual recording was made, there's nothing that seems genuinely live about this album. Nevertheless, considering the depth of talent and musicianship here, Tone Poems Live is another fine and entertaining album from Steve Hunter. Recommended.
Blues rock guitarist Steve Hunter returns with another fine and entertaining instrumental album, Tone Poems Live recorded 'live' in the studio.
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