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Paul Gilbert & Freddie Nelson: United States

Gilbert, Paul & Freddie Nelson: United States

Melodic Guitar/Hard Rock
Rating: 5.0/5.0

Readers will know who Paul Gilbert is: the quintessential guitar virtuoso of Racer X, Mr. Big, and solo fame. But you may not know Freddie Nelson; unless, of course, you live in the Western Pennsylvania area or are a guitar guru. Mr. Nelson played guitar for regional favorites Triple X, and then went on to form his own band Too Tall Jones where he stepped in front of the microphone. From these enterprises, Nelson has gained a fine, if not sequestered, reputation as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter.

So where did the connection come from? Gilbert writes on his website: 'Freddie is an amazing vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and producer who happens to be from the same town in Pennsylvania (Carbondale) where I grew up. We always knew about each other, but I moved to California before we had a chance to work together.' On United States Nelson co-writes and co-produces. First released in Japan in the Fall of 2008, and now available in Europe and the US, United States is a dandy album of melodic hard rock with awesome vocals and fret work from Gilbert and Nelson.

Early press releases had the album described as a cross between Queen and Mr. Big, and to some extent that could be true. Freddie Nelson's vocal style is novel and versatile. Yet after a spin or two, I hear Freddie Mercury, Lenny Wolf/ Robert Plant, and possibly, with lesser falsetto, Justin Hawkins. But don't let the latter possibility scare you away; Nelson is light years better than the mostly irritating Hawkins.

Musically, you will hear shades of 70's and 80's rock in the song compositions and vocal arrangements (which may remind of Queen, again). Songs 'Paris Hilton Look Alike,' 'Bad Times Good,' and to some extent, 'I'm Free' have that wonderful light and airy development in vocals and riffs from that era. As for the Mr. Big analogy, I would venture to say this is true as well thanks to the enormous arena rock sound of the heavy rocker 'The Last Rock & Star' or the groove-laden radio-friendly rock and roll of 'Waste Of Time

For Paul Gilbert's part you hear soaring shred (The Last Rock & Roll Star, Pulsar), accessible and steady rock licks (I'm Free, Waste Of Time), and versatile and eclectic creativity (Hideaway). Sometimes it all comes together in a breathtaking and fun romp as on 'Girl From Omaha.'

Guitarist Paul Gilbert and vocalist Freddie Nelson fit together like peanut butter and jelly: 'United States' is a collaboration of impressive, irrepressible and catchy rock and roll numbers that was destined to be made. I hope they do more in the future. Forget Chickenfoot, this is what you should be listeing to. Outstanding! Highly recommended!

In Short

Guitarist Paul Gilbert and vocalist Freddie Nelson fit together like peanut butter and jelly: 'United States' is a collaboration of impressive, irrepressible and catchy rock and roll numbers that was destined to be made. I hope they do more in the future. Forget Chickenfoot, this is what you should be listeing to. Outstanding!

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