Raw Blues Power – Paul Gilbert and Jimi Kidd
Shrapnel Records/Blues Bureau 20442
The concept of Raw Blues Power is actually quite touching. According
the liner notes, Gilbert is the guitar slinging nephew of Kidd, whose style
is what inspired the youth when he first heard his uncle’s blues licks. Over
the years, each developed his own style; Gilbert’s being crunchy heavy metal
and Kidd’s being the whiskey-tippin’, straight ahead blues. This recording
their attempt to merge the styles. As such, the record will
probably appeal to just as many fans as it will offend.
Blues is the source for R&B and rock and roll and, therefore, the
forms aren’t too far apart. Unfortunately, only the truly gifted have been
able to meld them together in a collective orgy of both sound and soul.
Zeppelin was probably the hardest, Clapton the cleanest, and Stevie the
dirtiest. Kidd and Gilbert fall somewhere in the spectrum, but their sound
is not quite developed enough to be compared to the true masters.
There is no doubt about the ferocity of their chops. Uncle Jimi pours out
soulfully drenched solos that wander across the blues modes seamlessly. The
younger Gilbert plays with the ferocity of Van Halen, but his solos tend to
wander a little off the deep end and become a little too thrashtastic.
The biggest problem with the record is the simplistic song writing and the
distinct replacement of volume for energy. The first track, "Girls
starts with deceptive, Allman-style double leads before turning into a 12
bar headbanging spectacular. Those first notes show such promise, but the
main part of the song is quite disappointing, especially for musicians with
such guitaring prowess.
Conversely, "Good Foot," has a solid bass line provided by Mike
Szuter and a head bopping beat that provides the perfect backing for Gilbert
and Kidd to strut their stuff. It proves that this rhythm section really can
groove if they are allowed the opportunity. Often, the backbeat and the
bassline are lost in the never ending wall of guitar chorus and distortion.
For those who are guitar aficionados, this might be a record that
will floor you. But for the average jamband fan who is looking for a little
more substance, it falls into a category somewhere between black and blue.
Deep Purple might be more like it.