By Stephen Dale Petit
Even for willing listeners this album may challenge sustained concentration, but it's not short of highlights, and has real momentum on opening in quintessential electric blues style with 'Sacramento' and 'Alexis Korner Says'. These two examples of Petit's composition and playing might have anyone expecting an hour of blues all the way, when what actually happens in a framework of good tough guitar blues (with few vocals) is blues-rock with detours into near-Prog, and scattered outbursts of guitar-heroic.
It's the third piece of music (track 5 because of links) 'Crack Whore' that brings in blues-rock, and does it at a fairly groiny level; after it the Tamla-originated 'Ain't No Sunshine' moves from tentative beginnings to moments of the axemanship usually handed out to an audience only when a player's sure he's really got 'em. The lively, Freddie King-like 'Surf City W10' opens with some keyboard and speech, making three introductory interventions in the space of five tracks: a feature calling R Fripp's method on Exposure, and perhaps there's intended to be a dash of kingly crimson in Stephen Dale Petit's colour-scheme for Guitararama.
The worldwide influence of blues is known to reach into Carlos Santana's province and is an under-recognised presence in Pink Floyd. Those two big names get a more than a respectful nod by the time we're at track eleven 'Told You So'; and '10 Year Reflections' three tracks earlier is also well-doused in essence of Floyd.
The spacious and reflective '10 Year Reflections' drifts us out to one of the borders of blues territory; whereas 'Percy's Thumb' which follows is not big on clues that it belongs on a blues CD at all. So the recurrence after it of a Dimples riff - as the brief '69 Duke St' gets under way - is reassuring before we're lolled out again by 'Told You So.' It's one of several with fade endings and would close a shorter version of this album well.
That's not what's happening here. Things toughen up as we're sung into '7 Cent Cotton' (also on the single with 'Told You So' and 'Alexis Korner Says'), representing Petit as rock, before a sort of ambient recovery zone in the form of 'Pure'. '10 Year Blues' is another visit to the contemplative mood, and 'Blues From Mars' represents not so much another planet but rather the god of war, with one of the album's five drummers being much more active than elsewhere. 'Bad Road Blues' doesn't gain much from its sung content, vocals being a better component of the rocking conclusion that comes with 'A Better Answer.'
In the shops 'Guitararama' is to be three tracks longer than what's been sent out for review. When an album is feeling the weight of what's already there, it might be possible some of it could have joined any new selections in a separate project, but if it's a question not of weight but of balance, then adding the right sort of material could be a valuable adjustment.