Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tony Fate "Half Virgin"

(Vital Gesture) This CD of solo instrumentals kind of reminds me of that Steve Martin record where half the album is him doing comedy and half is straightforward bluegrass banjo music. This is in part because "Half Virgin" opens with two ace finger-pickin' old timey barnburners (the best tracks here) but also because hearing these spare, solo instrumental tracks from a man who is synonymous with crunching, balls to the wall guitar solos is as odd as hearing the Wild and Crazy Guy get all folksy. The make or break point that determines if you could be a Bellrays fan was always love or hate of nasty garage rawk guitar solos, so hearing all this delightfully dainty stuff from the Bellrays (and Grey Spikes and Reactors and a bunch of other bands) guitar slinger is a surprise treat. This disc features acoustic guitar, mandolin (played in a florid Spanish style), some slide stuff that sounds almost like Hawaiian slack, keyboard that sounds like Korla Pandit gigging at Pee Wee's Playhouse, and only one fuzzy rock tune out of 21. At times the rudimentary references to ethnic music styles borders on hokey, but for the most part this is a tremendously pleasant listen. Play this for your lady and she won't be half anything for long!

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