RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Steve Hunter - Tone Poems Live (CD)
Singular Recordings

Rating: A

Steve Hunter was a huge name in the 1970’s, playing guitar for both Lou Reed and Alice Cooper.  During the next decade he played guitar for David Lee Roth; there he formed a friendship with a guitarist named Jason Becker.  Now, a few more years down the line, Hunter continues to amaze his fans with his amazing musical abilities.  His latest effort, titled Tone Poems Live, was recorded in his studio and filmed for a DVD as well as for this CD release. 

Tone Poems Live is instrumental guitar bliss.  Hunter is so damn tasteful one can hardly fathom it was his dirty licks on the classic Cooper tune  “Black Widow” all those years ago.  This album is a true masterpiece.  It is smooth, jazzy, hypnotic, groovy and peaceful all at the same time. 

All but two tracks were composed by Hunter, one exception being a tune he performed with Peter Gabriel titled “Solsbury Hill.”  The song is emotional, and this arrangement gives the song a new landscape for the listener to explore.  The other non-Steve tune,”Riviera Paradise” was written by a guy who shares a similar first name, Stevie Ray Vaughan.  SRV wrote the tune for his 1989 album In Step, and while this is not one of Vaughan’s most known songs, it is one of his most soulful.

Soulful is right up Steve Hunter’s alley.  I am not talking Motown soul, I am talking musically-spiritual-soulful, baby.  While both remakes are wonderful, there is nothing but praise for the Hunter composed gems as well.  Steve has a creamy guitar tone that is thick and impassioned.  His phrasing is perfect as his instrument sings the songs as well as plays the notes. 

Now, we can’t give Hunter all of the credit.  He has an amazing cast of characters performing with him, including one of the top bassists of all time in Tony Levin.  Levin’s fingertips release musical perfection on the low end.  While not as flashy nor as well known as the Geddy Lee’s of the world, Levin is man with few peers when it comes to his talents.  Joining Levin and Hunter is Phil Aaberg on Keyboards (Elvin Bishop, Peter Gabriel) and Alvino Bennett on Drums (Dave Mason, Robin Trower).

What makes this set of music even more special is that this team of musicians only rehearsed for two days.  After that, they brought in the cameras and recorded a performance.  Each tune was played live twice and the best version was handpicked; there were zero overdubs. 

The end result is amazing enough, even if one did not know how quickly it came together.  The unfolded story only makes the music that much more incredible.  The recording session was produced and recorded by Brian Brinkerhoff and Paul Lani.  All involved performed to the highest standards.

If you love instrumental, bluesy, jazzy, curl up in a blanket in the living room on a rainy day music that takes your mind places and makes you feel good, then it doesn’t get any better than this.

Tone Poems Live Tracklisting:
The Idler
222 W 23rd
Deep Blue
Flying Hippo
Rubber Man
Riviera Paradise
Solsbury Hill
Swept Away
Of All Times to Leave

By Jeb Wright