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J. Whiting (Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom)
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Guitar on Tap!
Guitar on Tap!
by Joe Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and easy to read reference, 7 Dec 2008
This review is from: Guitar on Tap! (Paperback)
Guitar On Tap
By Joe Bennett

Experienced teacher and session musician Joe Bennett has cut out all the waffle and gives you the most useful, practical scales, chords, tunings and tips, that all the pros use.

Of particular interest is the section on scales and modes. Joe debunks the myths and gives plenty of advice on the correct chords and progressions to use the Dorian, Mixolydian, Lydian and Phrygian Modes. Having read so many lessons on modes, and been completely confused, this section opened my eyes and my ears!

Obviously, it's not meant to be exhaustive, but as he says, most of the modes and exotic scales have limited use in 90% of rock and pop situations.

The section on altered tunings is also worth the price. For each tuning, he shows plenty of chords, plus a few licks / riffs to get you started. Having dabbled in altered tunings (much to my chagrin!), I can tell you that you won't need to know every possible chord inversion. Often, all the tuning is good for are one or two sounds - which are all you need, really. We can't all be Davy Graham or Nick Drake!

If you like this book, check out his "It's Easy To Bluff" series, which covers Rock, Metal, Acoustic and Metal styles. Like me, you'll learn enough to see you through most regular situations, and you'll be inspired to learn more!


Blues Rock Guitar Soloing [DVD] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Blues Rock Guitar Soloing [DVD] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Mat Gurman
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 21.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to soloing, 7 Dec 2008
Blues Rock Guitar
By Mat Gurman

This DVD is aimed at the beginner or intermediate level musician looking to get into the lead guitar styles of Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and Keith Richards. Mat is an experienced session musician and band member, as well as a great teacher. Bottom line - you're getting the real facts by a pro, not a load of flash licks out of context, or an ego-fest.

PROS - Mat demonstrates how to take the blues pentatonic scale and apply it to most musical situations. Rather than filling your head up with tons of technical information or modal scales, he preaches the value of keeping it simple!

This is a valuable lesson for everyone...you can do a lot with a few simple techniques, handling the majority of situations you'll ever come across in rock and pop.

He also demonstrates how to phrase, with his formula "Intent, Execution, Experience". This lesson teaches you what separates the professional musician from the amateur who runs scales up and down all night. If you learn one thing from this DVD, this alone will make you sound more like your heroes.

Matt preaches against merely learning licks and playing them without listening to the band, or the tune. Licks are great to give you a springboard for musical ideas, or to fill up space whilst you think of something else to play...but if all you know are licks, your solos will sound pretty samey quickly.

Mat plays notes outside the pentatonic scale, but explains how he pulls them out from the chords, or plays whatever notes sound good over the changes. In other words, listen to the band! He doesn't go into a lot of detail about this, emphasizing that your ear is the most important thing to develop, not your ability to memorise fancy theory.

Again, many professional musicians, from jazz to rock, rarely think in terms of lots of scales, formulas, or substitution rules. Instead, they choose a home base as a point of reference, (in this case, the blues scale), and add in notes that sound good to them. Experience will soon tell them what sounds good and what doesn't. Don't be afraid of mistakes - what separates a great musician from an amateur is their ability to get out of that mistake, or turn it into something cool.

After all, Charlie Parker, one of the greatest jazz musicians ever, once said "Play it once...it's a mistake. Play it twice and its jazz!". And he was no slouch!

CONS - The brief style files aren't meant to teach you play everything the likes of Clapton or Hendrix can, but I found them a little too terse. Some of the cooler jazz-based ideas from the likes of Robben Ford, or the faster Jimi phrases, could have befitted from being explained in detail.

The brevity of the examples might disappoint you, as well. Obviously, Mat is trying to keep it simple and get you out there and jamming, but he did breeze through some examples that would have been better if he went into more detail.

The tab booklet is also a little too short, too. The "In The Style Of" tabbed examples are only a few bars long, and don't always cover the coolest lines.


Flea - Bass Jamming and Techniques [2000] (NTSC) [DVD]
Flea - Bass Jamming and Techniques [2000] (NTSC) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Flea
Price: 16.88

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun - but more show than tell!,, 30 Nov 2008
Flea Bass Master Session

As a big Chilis fan, and aspiring bassist, I looked forward to getting an insight into their sound from Flea's viewpoint.

PROS

Intimate - He's joined by the late, great River Phoenix, of "Stand By Me" fame, and they're clearly old friends. They laugh, joke, and generally act like two cool guys. This is certainly more attractive than the usual Master Sessions, where a supremely talented, but slightly dull, guy shows you licks, out of context, in front of a plain white wall!

Gives Good Advice - Flea urges the viewer to keep an open mind, and preaches about the value of simplicity and listening to everyone in the band. Music works better, he says, when you compliment the band and the tune, not dominate like some mad jazz guy! Keep your chops for when it's appropriate to show off or required to play the tune - not all the time just because you can!

Flea says to keep an open ear, as well. Even if you can't, or don't play a certain style of music, there's always something you can learn from it. He demonstrates how he took ideas from punk, funk, and jazz, and applied it to his playing.

Excellent Warm-ups - He runs through his favourite warm-ups, giving little tips on how to get the best sound, and demonstrates how he got into slap and pop playing, too. He also shows you a few ideas with effects, how to play chords on a bass, and how to use open strings.

CONS

The Jams - Flea preaches the stream of consciousness style of improvisation, and this is demonstrated in between the various sections of the DVD, with him jamming with drummer Chad Smith.

However, outside the context of the full band, I found the jams sounded a bit samey, with Flea over-relying on his breakneck Slap and Pop licks, that he moved chromatically up and down the neck. It would have been more useful if he had demonstrated them in context with a band.

Lack Of Technical Detail - There's a lot to be learnt from Flea's licks, but the constant "To you own self be true, and play each note like it were your last" advice, whilst excellent, began to get old quickly. Flea and River came across like a couple of old hippies, high on something other than friendship at times, too. Its fun to watch the first time, but after a while I found myself wishing they'd get on with it and drop the "I'm a rocker and musically ignorant!" vibe.

Flea studied jazz trumpet at one stage, so he's had some training in theory, yet he says he knows nothing about music! Only a few moments later, he talks about how the modal nature of Chilis tunes (being based on one or two chords repeated over and over), meant that he could mix up scales and had more freedom, compared to Bebop, which is full of chords and has fast moving progressions. You clearly need some knowledge of music to understand this!

The things I listed in the PROS section pretty much sums up the teaching. A little advice on how he constructs his lines, tips for recovering from bad notes, and scales he likes to use, would have helped a lot. Not everyone has the ear or experience of Flea...

Old Footage - Because River is alive in this DVD, I assume it was recorded on tape, long before River's premature death. My guess is the session was filmed around the time of the "Mother's Milk" album, and anyone looking to get into more recent Chili's material would be best served elsewhere. Flea's style has definitely moved on and improved.

Overall, Flea's charismatic playing and larger-than-life personality make this DVD work for me. I've found that putting on the DVD for 5 minutes usually inspires me to try something new on the bass, and his energetic nature is certainly far more attractive than a lot of tuition DVDs out there!


Star Licks Bass Video-Tutor: Master Session - Flea [VHS]
Star Licks Bass Video-Tutor: Master Session - Flea [VHS]
VHS
Offered by stephensmith_426
Price: 11.45

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun - but more show than tell!, 1 Nov 2008
Flea Bass Master Session

As a big Chilis fan, and aspiring bassist, I looked forward to getting an insight into their sound from Flea's viewpoint.

PROS

Intimate - He's joined by the late, great River Phoenix, of "Stand By Me" fame, and they're clearly old friends. They laugh, joke, and generally act like two cool guys. This is certainly more attractive than the usual Master Sessions, where a supremely talented, but slightly dull, guy shows you licks, out of context, in front of a plain white wall!

Gives Good Advice - Flea urges the viewer to keep an open mind, and preaches about the value of simplicity and listening to everyone in the band. Music works better, he says, when you compliment the band and the tune, not dominate like some mad jazz guy! Keep your chops for when it's appropriate to show off or required to play the tune - not all the time just because you can!

Flea says to keep an open ear, as well. Even if you can't, or don't play a certain style of music, there's always something you can learn from it. He demonstrates how he took ideas from punk, funk, and jazz, and applied it to his playing.

Excellent Warm-ups - He runs through his favourite warm-ups, giving little tips on how to get the best sound, and demonstrates how he got into slap and pop playing, too. He also shows you a few ideas with effects, how to play chords on a bass, and how to use open strings.

CONS

The Jams - Flea preaches the stream of consciousness style of improvisation, and this is demonstrated in between the various sections of the DVD, with him jamming with drummer Chad Smith.

However, outside the context of the full band, I found the jams sounded a bit samey, with Flea over-relying on his breakneck Slap and Pop licks, that he moved chromatically up and down the neck. It would have been more useful if he had demonstrated them in context with a band.

Lack Of Technical Detail - There's a lot to be learnt from Flea's licks, but the constant "To you own self be true, and play each note like it were your last" advice, whilst excellent, began to get old quickly. Flea and River came across like a couple of old hippies, high on something other than friendship at times, too. Its fun to watch the first time, but after a while I found myself wishing they'd get on with it and drop the "I'm a rocker and musically ignorant!" vibe.

Flea studied jazz trumpet at one stage, so he's had some training in theory, yet he says he knows nothing about music! Only a few moments later, he talks about how the modal nature of Chilis tunes (being based on one or two chords repeated over and over), meant that he could mix up scales and had more freedom, compared to Bebop, which is full of chords and has fast moving progressions. You clearly need some knowledge of music to understand this!

The things I listed in the PROS section pretty much sums up the teaching. A little advice on how he constructs his lines, tips for recovering from bad notes, and scales he likes to use, would have helped a lot. Not everyone has the ear or experience of Flea...

Old Footage - Because River is alive in this DVD, I assume it was recorded on tape, long before River's premature death. My guess is the session was filmed around the time of the "Mother's Milk" album, and anyone looking to get into more recent Chili's material would be best served elsewhere. Flea's style has definitely moved on and improved.

Overall, Flea's charismatic playing and larger-than-life personality make this DVD work for me. I've found that putting on the DVD for 5 minutes usually inspires me to try something new on the bass, and his energetic nature is certainly far more attractive than a lot of tuition DVDs out there!


The Kids' Music Collection: Piano-Vocal-Chords
The Kids' Music Collection: Piano-Vocal-Chords
by Carol Cuellar
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Varied but flawed music book., 4 Feb 2008
This book ags over 50 well-known kids songs, in traditional piano / vocal / guitar chords format, interspersed with some line drawing of cartoon charcters that kids will love to trace / xerox and colour! I admit to opening this book frequently to romp through the themes to "The Simpsons", "Flintstones", and the "Jetsons". I've also jammed on the Friends theme "I'll be there for you" with the band.

Younger children will love the tradtional nursery rhymes like "Ba Ba Blacksheep", and so on.

There are some odd inclusions, though. The Macarena was that annoying dance tune / fad that irritated most of us back in the day! There's no way I'd let my kids hear that song! There are some dated choices (Ballad of Gilligan's isle, anyone?), and some really obscure ones, too. In this category, "Can you read my mind?" from Superman is included. Yeah, how does that go again, because I've never heard anyone sing it, and I can't remember it from the movies, either!

I was irritated that the book does not stay open, which makes two-handed piano playing difficult. Plus, some of the music is very hard to read, with some looking like faded photocopies! The arrangements are meant for the accomplished pianist, and I wonder why the arrangers didn't think of including simplified arrangements of the tunes, for younger musicians to try and play. Plus, the arranger has clearly fell foul of the old shortcut of merely opening a guitar chord book at random and including whatever shape matched the piano chord - which results in some hard to play shapes that would fluster accomplished guitarists, let alone a beginner.


Pumping Iron: Art of Muscle
Pumping Iron: Art of Muscle
by Michael Neveux
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Truly an art book on bodybuilding, 4 Feb 2008
The photography in this book is simply stunning - Neveux clearly loves his job and the sport and it shows in the beautiful, varied and imaginative pictures.

Sure, there are the inevitable workout and competiton shots, but thankfully the rest of the book doesn't resemble a "Flex" photoshoot. Neveux has an innovative eye, which results in some fabulous shots, where bodybuilders pose infront of historical monuments, in humourous situations, or tasteful glamour pictures. One that sticks in my mind is the fabulous shot of Vince Taylor (one of my faves), flexing his amazing muscles infront of a sign bearing the legend "cut well beef!".

A must for bodybuilding fans!


Songwriter's Rhyming Dictionary
Songwriter's Rhyming Dictionary
by Sammy Cahn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.21

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, highly useful book, 22 July 2005
As a keen singer / songwriter, I often need to come up with decent lyrics very quickly, as well as avoiding obvious, overdone rhymes.
Sammy Cahn's Songwriting Dictionary was the first of its kind to be written from the singers', amateur or professional lyricist or jingle writers point of view, unlike other dictionaries that are geared towards linguists and poets. If you can rhyme parlimentary with elementary and get a good tune out of it, you're a better writer than me! Lyrics are not the same as poetry!
Perhaps most enlightening is the 30 page introduction from Sammy Cahn, himself, explaining the creation of some of his best-known and loved works. This is a masterclass from Sinatra's favourite lyricist, worth the price of the book in itself.
Regardless of whether your tastes run from pop, jazz, musicals, punk (me!) or heavy metal, you can learn something from the intro! Hits and good songs, are hits and good songs, regardless of genre. The fact that his songs are still being sung today is testament to this.
WHAT IT IS NOT - it is not a ready reckoner of rhymes that will give you a surefire hit. Sammy himself says that a rhyming dictionary should provide ideas, not be a substitute for creative thinking and originality.
I personally use a lot of near or impure rhymes in my work (mainly because my singing voice allows me to get away with it!), to break free of stale lyrics. However, there are times when this can be a cliche in itself, so I'll reach for Sammy's tome.
A great price for a great little book!


Melody: How to Write Great Tunes
Melody: How to Write Great Tunes
by Rikky Rooksby
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.99

11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 7 July 2005
I have just finished reading "How to Write Songs on the guitar" by the same author, so was looking forward to this book.
However, it is a BIG disappointment.
The CD examples are a big letdown. The melody is played with one of those terrible flutey synth sounds, which always irritates me. You'd think he'd record with a piano or guitar, being as that's his speciality. Due to the samey nature of the sound,and the tempo, one example blends into another, which doesn't help the learning process, at all.
Perhaps the main failing of this book is that reducing melody writing to a series of lessons sucks the fun out of the whole songwriting process. I'm a firm believer that you either have an ear, or you don't, and only by continually songwriting do you improve that gift.
Whilst I still recommend his "How to Write Songs" book, I'd give this a miss. Instead, get out some of your favourite CDs and play your favourite songs. By identifying what you like about those songs, and applying those things to your songs, you'll do far better than trying to learn hundredes of rules from a book.


How to Write Songs on Guitar: A Guitar Playing and Song Writing Course
How to Write Songs on Guitar: A Guitar Playing and Song Writing Course
by Rikky Rooksby
Edition: Paperback

80 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and practical guide to songwriting, 23 Jun 2005
As a keen songwriter, I have found this book invaluable. This is the sort of book where you can turn to any page and you *will* find something vital to making music. The author never explicitly supports any one way of playing guitar or writing a song. On the contrary, the book teaches "if it works, and you like it, then who can say something is done wrong." If you have the patience to really STUDY and DIGEST this book, it will teach some invaluable lessons.
I especially liked the sections on basic and non-basic chords. Rikky only teaches the chords you'll use, and how to use them. None of those Fm13b5b7 chords that clutter the chord books. This alone is worth the price.
But's there's more!
He provides an exhaustive 'study' of the basic chord progressions (e.g., I VI IV V, I V IV III,) with song titles that use them. Whether your tastes run to Johhny Rotten or Johnny Mathis, you'll find an example here of a popular song using that progression, as well as lots of tips on creating non-standard progressions (if it sounds good and you like it...)
The section on how to go about using inversions and keychanges in the real world is worth the price just for this info. This is the sort of thing that makes the standard progressions sound much more harmonically interesting.
There are also chapters on composing lyrics, structuring songs, finding subjects, avoiding cliches, and making demos.
However, don't expect to find instruction on playing rhythm, or lead, or this style or that style, or scale patterns.... There are plenty of good books dealing with this sort of instruction; this one isn't one of those.
And it doesn't pretend to be one of them. It might touch on some of these areas, but only as it relates to songwriting, specifically songwriting on guitar.
Best of all, he presents a BUNCH of alternate tunings, not just the most widely-used G/A, D/E, and drop D tunings (the most popular). He also provides an abundance of chords for each tuning--very handy!
There are also chapters on composing lyrics, structuring songs, finding subjects, avoiding cliches, making demos.

This book doesn't have any chords or theory that you can't find in other books, like "The Guitar Handbook". But what it does offer is better context relative to songwriting. Some books can overwhelm you with scales, chords, theory etc.It also gives you ideas on how to approach songwriting from different angles to come up with something new.

Finally, he breaks down some of the great songs of the past 50 years and shines a light on what makes them so timeless and evocative. While this is basically a theory book (covering chord types, chord progressions, key changes, etc.), don't let that scare you off. He keeps it as uncomplicated as possible and in all honesty, these are things you really should know if you aspire to write top quality songs. No book can really make you a top songwriter but if your goal is to write quality songs that you can be proud of, whether or not they make you an instant millionaire, this book will teach and inspire you.
I love it, and recommended it to all my guitar buddies.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2008 10:53 AM BST


Play Jazz Guitar Now! [VHS]
Play Jazz Guitar Now! [VHS]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb introduction to jazz guitar, 20 Jan 2004
This is an excellent guide to the basics of jazz guitar. Mel Reeves breaks down all the foundation techniques into simple, bite size chunks. You'll learn the II - V - I progressions (foundation of most jazz standards), comping skills, and how to solo over those progressions. Mel keeps the theory to a bare minimum, whilst teaching more advanced concepts such as altered dominants, chord substitution, and the jazz minor scale.
Best of all, you do not need to read music, or understand theory. The information is clearly shown onscreen, or in the accompanying booklet, and Mr Reeves explains it all well. There are also simple memory tricks taught that will help you remember the more advanced techniques.
Ideal for those of us coming to jazz after years of listening, or for the rocker or blues guitatrist hoping to add some jazz flavors to his style. Whilst this tape is geared towars intermidiate players, even beginners will get something they can use.
Stick at it, and you might give George Benson or Pat Methany a goodrun for their money!


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