I just love this CD. I bought it yesterday in Boston and listened to it all the way through on my trip home to New Hampshire. I promptly put it on again this morning and decided to write this quick review.
I first remember hearing Leslie West's first album (with Blood of the Sun, etc.) in the fall of 1969 and it hooked me on his fat, singing vibrato, achieved by a LP Junior through a naturally overdriven amp. I followed him through various incarnations of Mountain through the years, his collaboration with Jack Bruce and his solo career. I eventually went back and sought out his playing with the Vagrants. At some point during the '80s, I became less enthralled with his sound because (now this is a personal taste observation, mind you), for me, his sound became increasingly processed with way too much chorus for me. I saw him live quite a few times during this period and was disappointed, not by his playing, but by his sound.
This CD, for me, returns to the sonic area of his earlier records. The overdrive and beef is still there, but the cold, chorus drenched sound is gone. That is welcome. Perhaps it is the gear he is using or the players on the CD (who were heavily influenced by his early sound). Whatever the reason, this offering is overpouring with feel and taste. Good stuff, Leslie!!
The other guitar players, Slash, Zakk Wylde (sp?), Steve Lukather, Billy Gibbons and Joe Bonamassa are sympathetic partners and compliment their mentor's licks as they should. I particularly like Zakk's psychotic fills alongside Leslie's more blues oriented legato runs. Joe Bonamassa'a duo with him on Eddie Boyd's 3rd Degree actually matches the quality of the version with Jack Bruce on the first WB&L album (which must make Joe proud)!
It was pleasing to hear some fine acoustic (UNPROCESSED, NO LESS!!) playing by leslie. His great electric playing often overshadows his excellent skill as an acoustic player.
My only suggestion? Next time, it would be nice to see some collaboration between Leslie and Martin Barre (who also has often cited leslie as a formative infuence).
Leslie truly is one of the great guitar players. On a personal level, he has influenced me as much as Clapton and the three Kings. The fact that he has triumphed over recent health issues to produce such an excellent collection of music speaks volumes about the man. He may say, as one song on this set proclaims "don't call me legend", however, to many guitar players, it is hard to not think of him as a living, breathing, guitar player's mentor. This CD deserves a listen by anyone who plays guitar, is a fan of great players, or, damn it, just likes good honest music with feeling.