Mastering the Pentatonic
Article 4 – Mark Knopfler; “Sultans of Swing”, adding the 2nd, and flirting with Harmonic Minor.
The Pentatonic Scale is the holy grail for guitarists. It’s easy to play and it sounds amazing.
This series will show you how to get the most out of our favourite scale, and how making small modifications will get you sounding like the pros and their signature sound.
With any scale, it is important to learn the shape starting on the E string (like in previous articles) but also starting on the A string. This article will be using the D minor pentatonic at fret 5 on the A string (see right).
You will notice an extra note added in blue, this is the 2nd, a note Knopfler often uses in a trill with the minor 3rd (see in the licks below).
Achieving the signature Knopfler sound isn’t just about note section but also articulation and phrasing. You will very rarely (if ever) see Knopfler using a pick. He employs a “claw” technique between his thumb, first and second finger. This means he plays lines that you might not think up with a pick. This also leads to the heavy use of double stops; playing two notes at the same time, and rakes.
“Sultans of Swing” licks: 1. Intro
This opening lick perfectly shows the 3 main ingredients to Knopfler’s playing; the pentatonic scale, finger- style, and the use of the 2nd.
Bar 1 & 2 is made up of a classic pentatonic lick with lots of vibrato. Bar 3 has a “rake” in it from the G string to the E string, quintessentially Knopfler – assign a finger to each string and make it snappy! It’s also worth noting that these notes make up a D minor arpeggio and highlight the chord underneath perfectly, another Knopfler move. Finally we have a hammer-on-pull-off between the 2nd and m3 on the B string.
2. Verse double stops
Here we see how Knopfler uses double stops. They reinforce the harmony but also act as a rhythmic device. The syncopated pattern help push these couples bars along. Play these using your 1st and 2nd finger, with the final triad being played with thumb, 1st and 2nd finger.
Below is a lick that is made up of all the ideas we have discussed so far.
3. Verse Harmonic Minor use.
Although very much in D minor, “Sultans of Swing” throws in an A dominant 7 chord every now and again, a chord “outside” the key. If you were to play a D minor pentatonic over the A7, the C (m7) of the D minor pentatonic would clash with the C# (3rd) of the A7 chord. To get around this, Knopfler dips into a D Harmonic Minor scale, which is a D minor scale with a major 7th:
Why middle C?
By Terry Relph-Knight, copyright retained 03/06/18
Most people will have heard of middle C, but apart from knowing it is a musical note somewhere around the middle of the piano keyboard, won’t know it’s significance. Why C? Why middle?
Guido the Monk
The existence of western musical notation and consequently middle C, is due to the Catholic Church seeking uniformity in church worship. The church leaders were concerned about heresy, they wanted to be sure that wherever Christianity was practised, everyone followed the same dogma; they believed the same things and all worshipped in the same way. In the 10th century, plainsong or plain chant – unaccompanied singing performed by monks and boys – was a part of religious services. The problem was there was no accurate system of writing music. All they had was a series of marks or neumes above the written words of the chant. This did little more than indicate that the next note went up or down in pitch and provided some idea of the articulation. Chants had to be memorized and could only be taught directly from one person to another. There was always the possibility for mistakes to creep in, or for music to be lost altogether.
A musical theorist, a monk known as Guido of Arrezo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_of_Arezzo or sometime just Guido Monaco (the monk), solved the church’s problem by inventing the basis of western musical notation.
He took the neumatic notation and extended it into a five line staff or stave. Five lines are a small, easily drawn and read number. Notes are written either between, or on the lines, and by placing the bottom note in a sequence just above the bottom line, then counting all the spaces and lines and ending immediately above the fourth line, you get seven notes. The eighth note in the sequence is of course the octave, so a five line staff can comfortably cover one octave. To cover wider ranges of pitch, further sets of five staff lines can be used and short extension ledger lines can be drawn above or below the five line staff. Each staff is separated by at least a single ledger line which isn’t drawn as a continuous line, leaving space between staves for the purpose of legibility.
Guido based his system on the pitch range of the male human voice. The overall pitch of a five line staff is indicated by a clef sign (clef from the French, meaning key) at the beginning and Guido started with two pitch ranges of bass and treble. He used the letters of the Roman alphabet to name the notes and he chose to start with A in the gap between the bottom line of the bass clef and the next line up. He then carried on naming the seven notes of the major scale in alphabetic order, as B, C, D and so on, ending on the seventh as G just below the top line. The next note is the octave A, the same as the starting note only twice the frequency, and the seven letter sequence repeats.
So, despite the modern practice of referring to a C to C octave, the note sequence originally started logically with the letter A, not C. For tuning purposes the reference note is usually an A. The frequency of this reference note has varied over time. Only relatively recently in the early 1900’s has orchestral pitch settled (more or less) on an A of 440Hz which puts ‘middle’ C at 261.63Hz (Hertz or Hz is cycles per second in old money).
Guido was creating musical theory in the 10th century to suite the church music of the time. This was modal music based on six note hexachords. Now a thousand years later musical complexity and musical taste have changed and the C major scale, the only major scale with no sharps or flats, is central to Western music. The C to C major scale organisation of the white keys on the piano, an instrument not even thought about in Guido’s time, along with the five black keys, is an easily recognised pattern and the piano keyboard is often used as a reference. If we were to re-write musical theory and the method of musical notation today, we might choose to re-label the notes.
The Grand Stave
The Grand Stave covers a span of three octaves, with the treble clef above the bass clef, divided by the single ledger line occupied by Middle C
If you stack a treble stave above a bass stave you get two sets of five lines separated, for clarity, by a single ledger line (and a space above and below it). Although never used in written music this is known as a grand stave or staff. Following the Guido system, starting with A in the bass clef you will find the note letter that sits on that central ledger line is a C. This is where middle C comes from, for the grand stave it is the central note between the bass and the treble staves.
The bass clef symbol is a stylised letter F with the two dots split by the stave line for the note labelled F and the treble clef symbol is a stylised letter G with the centre curl of the letter on the stave line for G.
The Grand Stave covers a range of three octaves. A good fit for the range of the average human voice, which is around three and a third octaves. The range of many instruments doesn’t extend much further, although their overall pitch may be higher or lower.
In written music with treble and bass staves the two are written spaced apart and high notes in the bass or low notes in the treble are given their own short ledger lines, rather than migrating across from one stave to the other. Multiple ledger lines are often used, but beyond four or five ledger lines the notation becomes hard to read and at this point the notation may switch staves. The assumption is that the treble and bass parts will be performed on different instruments and music is more easily read if the parts are separated. Instruments such as the piano, that can span across the bass and treble, still have the parts written on separated staves because the left hand plays the bass and the right the treble.
Written guitar music
It is a curious fact that the modern guitars pitch range places it in the bass clef, but guitar music is usually written an octave higher in the treble stave. This can cause problems for session guitarists expected to play from a score written by a composer that doesn’t know the real pitch of the guitar. The F of the bass clef is normally pitched at 174.61Hz. The low E of the guitar is the second E below that, at 82.41Hz, located on the first ledger line below the bass stave.
There are other clef symbols than the treble and bass G and F clef’s. For example the alto clef, which is well suited for the pitch range of cello music and as it happens, guitar. And the tenor clef. In total there are ten clefs that have been used in musical notation. However these ‘specialist’ clef’s are rarely used, it’s just simpler to use the treble and bass clef’s and transpose parts to fit.
The reason for this pitching oddity is that early guitars, like many string instruments even today, had only four strings (or more accurately – four courses of two strings each). The name “guitar” derives from the Old Persian “chartar”, which literally means “four strings”. Many four string instruments, like the violin, are often played in ensemble and rather than having strings added to expand the range, are part of a family of instruments. For the viol family we have, roughly speaking, the violin, the viola, the cello and the double bass. Both the Cremonese old masters – Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu – and modern makers have supplemented this range with other sizes of instrument. Traditionally the viol family is used classical orchestras and the frequency range is expanded by the use of different sizes of the basic instrument design. In comparison the guitar is not considered an orchestral instrument, rather it is an instrument that is often played on its own, or in small groups. Although we do have the bass guitar and the rarely seen, short scale Terz guitar. The four string tenor guitar doesn’t really count as part of the guitar ‘family’ because it is really a banjo with a guitar body.
Over the years, just as with the lute, which started life as a four string instrument, composers and players sought to extend the range of the guitar and it acquired a fifth bass string and then a sixth. This is one of the things which makes the guitar a special instrument, these extra strings make it possible to play a bass line, rhythmic chord patterns and melody lines all at the same time. Altered tunings extend these possibilities even further. It is quite natural to down tune the two bass strings and play a bass line on those, with the top four strings for chords and melody.
As to why western music uses seven notes for a major scale and eleven notes including sharps and flats (or 8 notes and 12 notes if you include the octave) is a question for a another time.
The slammed stop bar myth and movement in Tune-O-Matic bridges
by Terry Relph-Knight 27/02/18, copyright retained
This idea, that a screwed down stop tailpiece transfers vibration to the body and provides more sustain is an evil meme. It is perhaps something that some guitar journalist, who didn’t understand physics, wrote in some popular guitar magazine years ago and has been repeated mindlessly ever since.
For a start it is a contradiction – if the screwed down stop bar did provide a better mechanical coupling to the body then more of the string vibration would be adsorbed by the body resulting in LESS sustain. For sustain you want as much of your picking energy to remain in the string as long as possible. Bolting down the stop bar (and the bridge) reduces movement and lossy vibration in the components directly connected to the strings and that is why sustain may be affected.
Secondly the standard stop bar is not designed to be locked down. The design of the slots in the bar and the collars on the fixing bolts means that the stop bar is more or less equally coupled to the body no matter what height it is set at. To be able to couple the stop bar rigidly to the body you would need to use bolts without collars.
All the Gibson guitars that use a stop bar and an Advanced Bridge 1 or a ‘Nashville’ bridge (should probably be known as an ABR-2) derive from a guitar design using a trapeze tail piece. The stop bar, with its collared bolts, is actually designed to allow the string ends to be raised to approximately where they would be if a trapeze tailpiece was used, otherwise why would those bolts have collars?
If the stop bar is set as low to the body as it will go, over time there is so much pressure on the Tune-O-Matic bridges that they gradually start to collapse and bend in the middle.
Some guitarists recommend ‘top wrapping’ the strings, fitting the strings with the ball ends on the bridge side of the stop bar and then folding them back over the top of the bar. This method of installing the strings to the stop bar does allow the stop bar to be screwed down, while still providing a shallow break angle for the strings behind the bridge saddles. However, if the standard collared bolts are used, this method still does not lock the stop bar firmly to the body of the guitar and many people do not like the rough feel of the strings over the top of the stop bar, which over time will get scratched and grooved by the top wrapped strings.
So why top wrap, when you can use stop bar bolts without collars, fit spacers under the stop bar, and both lock the stop bar firmly in place and set it at the height it was always intended to be, which by the way reduces tuning problems by minimising string friction over the bridge saddles and doesn’t collapse the bridge.
If you are interested in this sort of stabilisation modification for your stop bar equipped guitar then please contact me via email@example.com or through an enquiry to the London Guitar Academy.
Slop in the Gibson style Tune-O-Matic ABR-1 and Nashville bridges
Like the standard Gibson style stop bar the Tune-O-Matic bridges rely on string tension for their mechanical stability and often have a degree of movement. The holes in the bridge have to be larger than the diameter of the support posts and the screw posts on the Nashville model are often not a tight fit in the threaded inserts into the top of the guitar.
Epiphone are to be applauded in their efforts in addressing this problem. Their solution, called ‘LockTone’, involves fitting small stainless steel leaf springs in the bridge holes and in the slots of the stop bar. This solution does not firmly lock the bridge or the stop bar in place, but even so Epiphone have published test results that they claim show improvements in sustain http://www.epiphone.com/News/Features/News/2011/Understanding-The-Epiphone-LockTone-Stopbar-Tune-o.aspx.
There are other solutions, from for example TonePros http://www.tonepros.com/ that will mechanically lock the bridge in place, improving sustain, tone and tuning stability.
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Build Log: Bass Pedal Board build
Terry Relph-Knight copyright reserved.
This pedal board was commissioned to easily mimic the bass sounds of Roger Waters for a Pink Floyd tribute concert tour. The pedals used were already owned by the client. The intention of the board was to provide a durable, compact and portable effects package that could be easily set up at each performance. A prime requirement was that the client needed to have three basses plugged in to the pedal board, with each one easily selected by foot switch and that the pedal board provide a DI output, as well as an amplifier feed. Bass selection was accomplished using a Boss LS-2 Line Selector and a SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI provided the DI and amplifier feed.
A Warwick Stage welded aluminium frame was chosen for the base, with power provided by a MEMTEQ Caline Power 5 switching power supply. Two of these supplies were purchased, one as a back-up. The pedals were attached to the base with mushroom stud Power Grip super velcro and Warwick flat Rockboard cables used for the pedal interconnects.
Warwick Step up wedges were fitted along the back of the Stage base, raising the SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI, the delay, tremolo and EQ pedals for easy access to their foot switches.
Since the client was using his pedals almost continuously, the board layout had to be designed through a process of sending a series of emails back and forth, with final assembly completed in one day.
A couple of the pedals, the Korg Pitch Black tuner and the EHX Big Muff, had seen hard use and required some minor repairs.
Korg Pitch Black Tuner Tuner – mutes through path signal when activated
Boss OC-3 Super octave Frequency or pitch change – 1 octave and 2 octaves down
Has a polyphonic mode, dry/wet mix and can add distortion – 50mA
Big Muff Pi Fuzz type distortion (analogue)100mA
Nano Bass balls Filter – twin envelope filter (analogue)100mA
MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 Modulation – phase or notch filter (analogue) no LED – 2.2mA
Boss TR-2 Tremolo Modulation – amplitude (analogue)
TC Flashback Mini Delay Ambience – Delay (digital) 100mA has Toneprint BUT as far as I can see you can only program it with one Toneprint at a time and that sets the character of the pedal until you re-programme it. Some of the other TC pedals have a selector switch with positions for several Toneprints as well as various other modes. So if you load up an Echoplex Toneprint then the pedal acts like an Echoplex until re-programmed.
SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI – 7mA
Boss LS-2 Line Selector / Looper – a two loop switching pedal. This can switch two loops in various selectable combinations – in parallel Loop A or Loop B or both, in series Loop A or Loop B or both. Or it can be used as an A or B to Y / Y to A or B switch. For example one input to two outs (to two amplifiers for example).
Behringer BEQ700 (its the boss copy)
Client needs to use three basses, to easily switch between them and may need to be able to drive two amplifiers. A DI output is also needed. This will be accomplished by using the BOSS LS-2 as a three way input selector and the SansAmp Bass Driver as a tone modifier with the effects in its FX loop and the two parallel outs and the DI out used for all the outputs.
Latest pedal layout scheme
Bass 1 into BOSS LS-2 FX return A, Bass 2 into BOSS LS-2 FX return B, Bass 3 into BOSS LS-2 input (via BEQ700 EQ pedal). With the mode selector set to A>B>Bypass, repeatedly clicking the foot switch on the LS-2 cycles through these inputs as indicated by a Green light for A, a Red light for B and no lights for Input/Bypass.
The output of the LS-2 feeds the Korg Pitch Black Tuner.
The output of the tuner goes to the input of the Tech21 SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI.
The following effects go in this order into the FX loop of the SansAmp –
Boss OC-3 Super octave
Big Muff Pi Nano Bass balls MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 Boss TR-2 Tremolo TC Flashback Mini Delay (note – ‘One of these days’ may require Trem after Delay)
PedalTrain say that for 9 to 12 pedals a Novo 24 or a Classic 2 board should be big enough.
Looks like a Novo24 is the one, at £179 from Scan with flight case.
Behringer BEQ700 7 12 L,R power on side 30mA 9V
BOSS LS-2 7.3 12.9 L,R power on back 25mA 9V
Korg Pitch Black Tuner 6.8 12 L,R power on back 120mA 9V
Boss OC-3 Super octave 7.3 12.9 L,R power on back 50mA 9V
Bass Big Muff Pi 14.4 15.9 L,R power on back 3mA 9V
Nano Bass balls 7 11.5 L,R power on back 3mA 9V MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 6.5 11 L,R power on side 2.2mA 9V
Boss TR-2 Tremolo 7.3 12.9 L,R power on back 20mA 9V
TC Flashback Mini Delay4.89.3L,R power on side100mA 9V
Tech21 SansAmp BD DI 24.8 13.4 L,R & Back 7mA 9V
Power supply requires 10 outputs and total current of – 360.2mA
Or without the BEQ700 and with a loop lead from the tuner, 8 outs and 330.2mA
Cioks DC10 – 8 x 9V out £187.14 from Thomann
T-Rex Fuel Tank Classic – 8 x 9V out £111.42 from Thomann
Memteq Caline Power 5 – 8 x 9V out £26.99 on Amazon Prime BUT it takes 18V in from a wart
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus – 8 x 9V fully isolated outputs (the downside is it is not auto mains switching and comes in either 100, 120 or 240V models)
Width L to R
Nano Bass balls 7
MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 6.5
Bass Big Muff Pi 14.4
Boss OC-3 Super octave 7.3
Korg Pitch Black Tuner 6.8
BOSS LS-2 7.3
6 pairs of jacks @ 4.5 27
Depth front to back
Bass Big Muff Pi 15.9
Tech21 SansAmp BD DI 13.4
Power jack on back of Muff 2
My mock up fits into 62cm length x 40cm deep. Nope 62 by 30
“One Of These Days”
Sounds like the delay with quite a bit of saturation, (so I may add the big muff for grunt)
The Phase 90 is on all the time I think..
So even though I will use the Phase 90 and the Big Muff separately on other tunes,
on ‘One Of These Days’ I will need to engage the Phase, Muff, and delay preferably in one switch
And then the TR-2 Tremolo, (at the end of the chain?) I can press separately for the second sound.
I Also need to keep the dry signal strong within the sound until I activate the tremolo which takes over the whole signal.
I may need a another bass overdrive Terry as well, maybe you could help me with this?
Just so once the big Muff is set for its roles, I can have a secondary drive pedal of a different kind
for other stuff. Actually the SansAmp bass driver does this stuff so maybe I need to dial in a preset for that… Yes, Mmm..
On other gigs I do I often use a Boss synth pedal ( believe it or not….!) and a second Octaver.
So I wonder will I just be able to interchange those pedals when I need to?
If it’s of any use, I have a an interesting pedal here too, Its the Boss LS-2 Line Selector.
It does loads of interesting things. It may be worth having a look if your not familiar.
It may help my cause I’m not sure.
I was hoping to use two amps on this gig if they will let me. I’m not 100 percent, but I think I could use the LS-2 to switch between amps according to the manual I downloaded.
I’d be happy to know what you think Terry.
32cm front to back with clearance
with no clearance
but with 3cm between
Warwick STAGE board 61 by 31 £149 with flight case
Warwick Rockboard Step Up 1 14 x 8 x 2 cm £10.99
Warwick Rockboard Step Up 2 14 x 17 x 2 cm £12.99
Warwick Rockboard Step Up 3 14 x 25 x 2 cm £13.99
Or all three at £19.95
Warwick STAGE board 61 by 31 by 7cm £140 with flight case
PedalTrain Classic 2 (60.9×31.7×8.9 cm) with flight case £149
Board and cables order
Ordered 2 MEMTEQ Caline Power 5 switching power supplies via Amazon on 28/06/17
Already delivered on the 29th.
Ordered on 03/07/17 from Hot Rox order no 100074408
1 x Warwick Stage pedalboard with flight case – £149
1 x set of all three step up brackets – £19.95
2 x 1M rolls of Power Grip super velcro – £19.98
Free Royal Mail 1st class delivery
Total £ 188.93
paid by HSBC Visa card
Ordered on 04/07/17 from Gear4Music W1961703
Rockboard flat cables
6 x 10cm £18
2 x 20cm £6.98
2 x 30cm £8.00
1 x 60cm £4.99
Post and packing £ 5.99
Grand total – £286.86 leaving £104.13
Latest board layout 20/06/17
Left to right physical layout
Upper – Tech21 SansAmp BD DI (on a Step Up 3), Boss TR-2 Tremolo (on a Step Up 1), Bass Big Muff PI (on a Step Up 2), Behringer EQ. Connections between these are 2 x 10cm Rockboard flat cables between the SansAmp return and the Tremolo and between the Tremolo and the Big Muff. 1 x 30cm between the SansAmp send and the Big Muff. 1 x 20cm between the Behringer EQ and the Boss LS-2 in the lower row. 1 x 60cm between the SansAmp input and the output from the TC delay in the lower row.
Lower – TC Flashback Mini Delay, MXR 1974 Phase 90, Nano Bass balls, Boss OC-3 Super octave, Korg Pitch Black Tuner, BOSS LS-2. Connections between these are by 5 x 10cm Rockboard flat cables.
That leaves 1 x 20cm and 1 x 30cm unused from the order and I contributed one 10cm of my own.
Power connections – The Behringer EQ power is daisy chained from the back of the LS-2 and the Big Muff is daisy chained from the back of the Korg Pitch Black Tuner. All other pedals are wired back to the MEMTECH Caline Power 5.
10 pedals in total
Jazz bass into the EQ into the BOSS LS-2 FX input, Bass 2 into BOSS LS-2 FX return A, Bass 3 into BOSS LS-2 return B
EQ into Tuner
Tuner to Octave
Octave to Bass Balls
Bass Balls to Phaser
Phaser to Delay
Delay to Sans Amp input A
Sans Amp send to Big Muff
Big Muff to Tremolo
Tremolo to Sans Amp return
Serial numbers removed when rubber back was peeled off
Behringer Bass EQ N0532087400 date 0509
Boss LS-2 DS56680
Boss OC-3 Super octave AS11107
Boss Tremolo TR-2 R 1H2962
(Rockboard cables available as 10cm £3, 20cm £3.49, 30cm £4.00 and 60cm £4.99)
7 x 10cm Rockboard patch cables @ £3 = £21
1 x 20cm £3.49
1 x 30cm £4.00
1 x 60cm £4.99
Plus some spare cables
28/06/17 – 2 x Memteq Caline 5 power supplies via Amazon £53.98 due tomorrow
Warwick board, flight case, set of risers, 2M of Power Grip
Another 1M of Power Grip tape ordered from Hot Rox on 17/07/17 £13.99
Korg Pitch Black tuner – Resprayed the case with matte black paint. Tightened up the very loose foot switch plunger. Polished the scratches out of the display window.
Big Muff – fitted washers to and tightened the loose foot switch.
ALBUM REVIEW: SOULFIRE – LITTLE STEVEN
Last year at his O2 Indigo show in London, Little Steven announced that he was going to be back in 2017 with a new album and another European tour. The only UK date that’s been squeezed into his schedule was Manchester but the promised new album is now out and it’s a scorcher!
His first solo album for 18 years (“Born Again Savage” appeared in 1999), the new release marks a return to the sound of “Men Without Women” (his first album with the Disciples of Soul) and the first three albums for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, which he produced and provided a lot of the original material. So you know what you’re going to get – lots of brass, big production, classic 50s and 60s R & B and striking rock guitar
The 15 piece band includes top horns man Eddie Manion (from the Asbury Jukes) and guitarist Marc Ribler (the musical director for Darlene Love), and it’s primarily the band that played over here at the London Blues Fest.
It’s not what you would call a “brand new” album – most of the Van Zandt material has appeared in some form previously. It’s effectively Van Zandt pulling together a set of songs that can be seen as his story so far – and it makes you realise what a good songwriter/producer/arranger Van Zandt is.
You get Van Zandt’s take on 5 of his own compositions (or co-writes) which were first recorded by Southside Johnny – I’m Coming Back, Some Things Just Don’t Change, Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, I Don’t Want To Go Home (the first song he ever wrote) and Ride The Night Away. Also featured is an update of “Standing in the Line of Fire” (originally recorded by Gary US Bonds)
The “old” songs are good and anyone familiar with the Southside Johnny versions isn’t going to be disappointed. “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” is the most changed version- it gets a “Byrds style” intro before the familiar brass parts kick in, and then the instrumental section goes for an altogether different sound which is strikingly different from the horns on the Jukes version.
Even more interesting are the less familiar songs –“Soulfire” the album opener is a co-write which was recorded previously by The Breakers – a band on Van Zandt’s own label. It’s a strong opener and sets out the tone of the album that follows – a big sound and Van Zandt’s trademark vocals and guitar.
Here’s a link to Little Steven’s Youtube site to hear “Soulfire”:
“The City Weeps Tonight” is a new Van Zandt original – and it’s a gorgeous piece of updated doo wop. “I Saw The Light” is another Van Zandt original (not the Todd Rundgren song) which has never appeared before.
There’s an excellent choice of covers – first up (track 3) you get the “Blues Is My Business” a strong blues rock number first recorded by Etta James. This is the track for all you LGA students to plug in the guitar and play along to. Clocking in at over 6 minutes there’s plenty of licks and riffs to get your teeth (fingers!) into. You can play along here at Little Steven’s Youtube site:
The album also features a cover of “Down And Out in New York City” – the James Brown track from the movie “Black Caesar”. Marc Ribler gives it the full-on ‘70s “Shaft” wah-wah guitar sound.
“Saint Valentine’s Day” is another Van Zandt original that was originally given away and recorded by The Cocktail Slippers. It also featured in a stripped down rocky format in the rock movie “Not Fade Away” but this version brings in the full band and horn section to keeps this version within the sound of the album as a whole.
You can hear it here:
If you like the “Men Without Women” album (or Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes) this is definitely an album to go and buy.
- I’m Coming Back
- Blues Is My Business
- I Saw the Light
- Some Things Just Don’t Change
- Love on the Wrong Side of Town
- The City Weeps Tonight
- Down and Out in New York City
- Standing in the Line of Fire
- Saint Valentine’s Day
- I Don’t Want to Go Home
- Ride the Night Away
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s Youtube live footage from the current European tour with Southside Johnny joining Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul for a sing-a-long version of “It’s Been A Long Time” (written by Van Zandt and originally recorded by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes on their excellent 1991 comeback album “Better Days” )
LONDON GUITAR ACADEMY
With the February cold weather starting to bite, LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, warms up his ears with a look back over his favourite albums of 2016. These are albums which are probably not going to appear on the “popular” mainstream lists of albums of the year, but are albums which we certainly think are worthy of your attention.
Part 4’s album selection is “My Way Home” by Eli “Paperboy” Reed.
For this album (his fifth) Eli “Paperboy” Reed (guitar/vocals) has put together a basic “brass free” band of:
JB Flatt: Organ
Michael Isvara Montgomery: Bass
Noah James Rubin: Drums
Loren Humphrey: Percussion
The stripped down nature of the band is emphasized in the sound of the album. Whereas the previous Warner Brothers album “Nights Like This” took the classic Reed ‘60s soul sound and gave it a smooth studio pop/soul polish, this album (on independent label Yep Roc) is a real throwback to his gospel/soul/R’n’B roots.
The sound throughout is reminiscent of the 60s analogue age, it’s as if the polished digital era had never been invented and the sound is all the better for it. The whole album has an authenticity which would just simply have been lost with a more polished production.
Reed is on fine form throughout – preachin’ and hollerin’ as if his life depended on it, his gospel/soul vocals backed up with typically fiery Reed guitar. Opening track “Hold Out” blasts out of the speakers and sets the tempo for his most energetic albums (and one of the best) of his career to date.
2nd cut “Your Sins Will Find You Out” kick-starts with a typical Stax/Steve Cropper burst of short guitar before moving into the main song melody. There’s great guitar throughout this track and it’s immediately followed by the seriously funky “Cut Ya Down”.
Here’s a link to the official video for “Your Sins Will Find You Out”:
“Movin’” and the album’s title track “My Way Home” both go for a more subtle vocal pleading and the latter could well be the album’s standout track.
Here’s a link to the official video for “My Way Home”:
“Tomorrow’s Not Promised” has a classic 60s soul sound and is the poppiest (in a good way) track on the album.
On the album closer Eli asks “What Have We Done” and the answer, Eli, is to make one seriously good record. It’s well worth giving this album a listen.
For more details about Eli “Paperboy” Reed, releases, upcoming dates and appearances etc see:
Album released by, and available from, Yep Roc:
Eli “Paperboy” Reed has toured the UK before and, although no current dates are scheduled here, he’s a great a live act. Go and see him if he comes over to the UK again.
Blast from the past
Here’s a link to the official full band “performance video” for “Come And Get It” (the title track of his 3rd album):
The Nashville Diary
LGA’s Country & Bluegrass specialist Luca Serino has been spending some time in Nashville – America’s Live Music Capital! Check out his blog here……
I spent a week in Nashville over the Christmas holidays; this was not my first visit, in fact it was visit number six, so pilgrimage may be more appropriate.
I could write at length about Nashville as the ideal city without ever mentioning music: excellent (and reasonably priced) food, beautiful neighbourhoods (also reasonably priced, for now, if you ever think of moving), friendly locals with a soothing accent, an unintimidating skyline and a maximum commute of 15 minute anywhere within the city.
Oh, and I had a life changing guitar lesson with Chris Eldridge of the Punch Brothers and fellow Tony Rice disciple, but that deserves its own chapter in the diary so will tell you about it next time.
But Nashville is Music City, USA and my enduring memories of the city the music: almost every musician I have heard there I would consider somewhere between ‘the next big thing’ and simply world class.
Here are some the highlights of what I heard (and saw):
Part 1 – Dan Donato and the Cosmic Country Band
After dipping in and out of a few honky tonks on Broadway, all with excellent live music, we landed on ‘the one’ – Nudies – where the ‘Cosmic Country Band’ were playing a mix of Elvis, Johnny Cash and other classics. The band featured Dan Donato on guitar who consistently blew away even the most jaded listeners on Broadway (doormen in their 70s wearing large brim Stetsons who look a lot like Bill Monroe).
Listening to him reminded me of the difference between a virtuoso and a real pro – taste, restraint and groove – he could shred better than almost anyone I’ve seen but also did so at the appropriate time; more importantly his rhythm was impeccable and he did not waste a single note.
I looked Dan up afterwards and he is all over the web – Guitar Player Magazine calls him the new “Master of Telecaster”:
Oh, and he mentioned that they play at Nudie’s for 4 hours, 3 days a week – that’s how the Beatles got their chops while in Hamburg!
Anwyway, enough talking, here’s the music:
London Guitar Academy Nashville Diary
London Guitar Academy Great Albums You May Have Missed
It’s heading towards the end of the year and LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, casts his eyes (and ears) over his albums of 2016. These are albums which are probably not going to appear on the “popular” mainstream music journals’ list of albums of the year, but which we certainly think are worthy of your attention.
First up this year is the self titled debut album from U.S. band “The Phantoms”. Released on Rum Bar Records, the album is a classic mix of garage, crunchy power chords and typically loud rock’n’roll. Throw in some glam influences and a country boogie number and you’ll quickly realize these boys know how to get your attention!
Albums You May Have Missed 2016
The Phantoms hail from San Diego and comprise:
Xavie Anaya – Lead guitar
Victor Penalosa – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Ed Masi – Drums
Chris Iandolo – Bass guitar
Victor Penalosa is probably the only name that’s well known in the UK – he’s played with the Zeros (brother Hector was a founder member) and was last seen over here this year as the powerhouse drummer with the reincarnated Flamin’ Groovies. In the Phantoms, Penalosa steps out front with a set of songs that melds influences as diverse as the Stones, T.Rex , Mott the Hoople (and the Groovies) into one fine set of original songs.
Crunchy powerchords and a nifty rock riff lead into the album opener “Baby Loves Her Rock’n’Roll” and it’s a bona fide classic. Here’s a link to the video track posted on Youtube by Chris Iandolo:
“Chump change” starts with a spoken monologue diatribe and then bursts into life with more crunchy rills and a great opening line of “Starting the day with the look on your face, so tragic”
“One For The Road” is a country boogie and “Atomic Fireball” brings to mind a rocked-up T-Rex.
“Ditch Digger” is like an amped up Loney-era Groovies rocker with production from the team behind The Sweet’s glam rock stompers.
The album closes with another straight rocker “Stab My Broken Heart” and it’s the sort of closer that makes you to put the album on repeat. Here’s a link to the video track posted on Youtube by the Phantoms:
Any band that titles one of their songs after the bass player in Mott The Hoople (“The Ballad of Overend Watts”) deserves a listen – give them a try and you won’t be disappointed. The whole album is high energy rock’n’roll at its best!
Buy the album from Rum Bar Records:
And check out:
Here’s a link to a live video clip posted on Youtube of the band cranking through the Stonesy-rocker “Tears Me Up Inside”
Now all we want is for the band to announce some European dates!
GIG REVIEW – LITTLE STEVEN AND THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL
Fans of Steve Van Zandt got a rare treat as part of this year’s BluesFest in London – his first UK “solo” appearance for 27 years as “Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul”.
Brought over by promoter (and saxophone player) Leo Green to play at the “Bill Wyman 80th Birthday Bash” which formed part of the BluesFest events schedule, Van Zandt was persuaded to also play a late night Saturday evening full band set at the intimate “Indigo at the O2” venue.
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
LGA gig reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to catch the action and a pretty impressive night it was too.
The night’s introductions were kicked off by well known London radio presenter Robert Elms and then a surprise second introduction (specifically at Van Zandt’s request) came from ‘6os pop legend (and modern day music entrepreneur) Dave Clark (leader of the Dave Clark Five).
When the curtains opened you could see that Van Zandt, sporting his traditional long coat, scarves and bandana, had put together a 15 piece band of US and UK musicians – including a 5 piece horn section featuring promoter Leo Green (“it’s all his fault, laughs Van Zandt pointing at Green, “he persuaded me to play”) and original Disciple of Soul/former Asbury Juke, Ed Manion.
LITTLE STEVEN AND THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL GIG REVIEW
With Marc Ribler (Musical M.D. for Darlene Love) acting as 2nd guitar and onstage choreographer, the band power packed their way through a set of over 2 hours to an ecstatic crowd of Van Zandt/Disciples of Soul/Asbury Jukes and Springsteen fans.
Here’s a link to Youtube footage from the gig of the band performing “Until The Good Is Gone” (from the “Men Without Women” album):
Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul Concert
The set list was (broadly) a one third each mix of songs from the “Van Zandt/Disciples of Soul” era (the “Men Without Women” album), songs that were recorded by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes (but written and produced for the Jukes by Van Zandt) and a selection of covers nodding to the “BluesFest” origin of the gig.
Here’s a link to Youtube footage from the gig of the band performing “Forever” (also from the “Men Without Women” album):
At the same evening in the main O2 Arena the BluesFest show was a combination of Richie Sambora and Orianthi supporting Bad Company. Van Zandt joined Ritchie Sambora and Orianthi for a song on their set and the compliment was returned later in the evening with Hook Herrera (from Sambora’s band) joining Van Zandt to play the harmonica on the Jimmy Reed cover, Walking By Myself and then Sambora himself joining Van Zandt for a long encore blast through “Can I Get A Witness”.
Here’s a final Youtube link to footage of the band playing their version of the Southside Johnny classic, “I Don’t Want To Go Home” (“the first song I ever wrote” said Van Zandt) . The night finished to loud cheers as Van Zandt announced that they were recording a new Disciples of Soul album, re-releasing his earlier solo albums next year and that they would be back over here for a proper tour in the summer of 2017. Go catch them when they come over – if the band put together for the tour resembles anything like the band at the Indigo it’ll be a great show.
- Killing Floor
- Comin’ Back
- Inside Of Me
- I Played The Fool
- The Blues Is My Business
- Until The Good Is Gone
- Ride The Night Away
- Groovin’ Is Easy
- All I Needed Was You
- Love Disease
- She Got Me Where She Wants me
- Some Things Just Don’t Change
- Trapped Again
- Down And Out I New York City
- Walking By Myself (with Hook Herrera)
- I Don’t Want To Go Home
- Bitter Fruit
- Can I Get A Witness (with Richie Sambora)
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a Youtube link to the original promo video shot for the “Forever” single from the “Men Without Women” album. The single made the US Top 100.