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On disc: Taz Taylor Band

Straight Up - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
Big Dumb Rock - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars

Big Dumb Rock

Big Dumb Rock
(No Hair Records - 2010)

Usually I'm not a big fan of instrumental music, but I decided to give this one a try, coz this message convinced me: "It is an all Instrumental Hard Rock album and is aimed at people who love Hard Rock and yet don't usually buy instrumental albums by more esoteric artists such as Satriani, Vai etc !"
All guitars and bass are played by Taz Taylor who is backed up by drummer Val Trainor and keyboarder Bruce Conners.
They open with Viper, a 70's rock tune with a warm, fat sound which reminds me a bit of early 80's Scorpions, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Actually I don't miss vocals much, coz Taz Taylor let his guitar sing. I really enjoy songs like City Zen which made me think of some late 70's rock... Partly because of the sound which fits perfectly to this kind of music. In the 70's many rock bands did jam live or added long instrumental passages, and the songs are kinda like that - and with Taylor's guitar play also revive the early MSG style. With Chillin' you get the impression to listen to Black Sabbath - til the guitar starts to sing. At 622 the lead guitar has a Vai-ish touch, but Taz Taylor never get lost in his play and always get back to the main theme. 11 Years offers some 70's organ sound, a fat groove and so brings back the 70's rock - one more time.
Actually you can pick any song to get an impression of Big Dumb Rock, they are all fun! And I never thought I would say it about an instrumental album, it's too short! That's my main criticism! Time to hit the repeat button!
After the instrumental albums of George Bellas and Alex Masi it was a real treat. Don't get me wrong, their albums are quite good, just not my cup of tea. Looks like Big Dumb Rock will find it's place next to my favorite instrumental album, a non-metal album, but a classic - Friday Night In San Francisco. Kudos!

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


Straight Up

Straight Up
(Escape Music - 2009)

To be honest, I haven't heard of Taz Taylor before. On his previous album Graham Bonnet was singing and now he has Keith Slack (ex-MSG, ex-Steelhouse Lane), so you can expect some kind of hard rock and it couldn't be too bad when these guys choose to sing. I learnt that the debut album of Taz Taylor was an instrumental album and 2006 he released Welcome To America with Graham Bonnet on mic. Now the British guitarist is back with Straight Up.
Drummer Val Trainor leads into the opener Lock And Load, a 70's hard rocker. it depends on your point of view, if you take the production as an attempt to get the vintage sound or say it sounds cheap compared to nowadays productions. Anyway, I think it fits to the bands sound, give it the original 70's sound. With Razor Tongue they hooked me up right away, the song has aggression, melody and emotion. Singer Keith Slack shows a bit of his range and it fits well to the guitar-driven tune. The lead guitar part shows again an admiration for the 80's guitar heroes like e.g. Michael Schenker. And the bluesy One More Night won me over! Here a bit Gary Moore shines through as well as a bit Eddie Van Halen. At The Fugitive Mr. Slack sounds a bit like David Coverdale, but he isn't copying Coverdale, it's partly the timbre as well as some phrasing. At In Harms Way you get some more Coverdale-sque stuff! A cool up-tempo rocker is Bring It, a guitar-driven track which is a lot of fun!
Its probably that I'm more open for this sound, coz its what I grew up with and I still love this type of hard rock. And TTB have the vintage sound, they sound authentic and its pure fun to listen. Unfortunately the album is quite short... But better a short, but good album, then an album which starts boring you! So, if you like old Whitesnake (pre-1987) or the early MSG stuff and you are still listening to 70's rock bands, then you should check out this one! My faves are: In Harms Way, Information Overload, One More Night and Bring It.

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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