Ed Gerhard – The Live Album
1999 – Virtue Records
Having set album sales records with his previous studio albums, perennial
“Top Ten”-er Ed Gerhard has taken his popular guitar music on tour and has
put his tour on vinyl (er- plastic) for his first live album. Recorded
“bootleg” style between 1995 and 1999 all across the United States, The
Live Album features familiar favorites, new renditions of traditional
offerings and international flavors which range from shadowy western
slides to Polynesian and Irish lines. Two versions of the Gerhard favorite
“Malaika” (including one on his new “mandotar” – a combination
mandolin/guitar) shows how the humorous and inventive performer can give
two entirely different voices to one song. The oddly-titled solo “Duet”
demonstrates both Gerhard’s melodic range and dexterous duality, which
ranges from harpsichordian brightness to bowed bass depth. With tips to
fellow fret-men such as Martin Simpson, Michael Hedges and Mark Knoffler,
Gerhard takes the best from the guitar canon and shoots in his own special
style. From amid the occasional chair squeaks and fret scratches emerges
an album which is most often studio clean yet which also captures the
improvisational interest and fun of Gerhard’s live performances.
- Matthew S. Robinson
© 1999 M. S. Robinson, ARR
Ed Gerhard - Counting the Ways (Love Songs)
10 song CD
Released by Virtue Records
Produced by Ed Gerhard
As a guitar player and music writer, I know how it feels to hear a song in
your head or on the radio and want to play it just as it sounds to you at
the time. Unfortunately, this is no easy task. Whether it be the tuning,
the strings, the chords, the picking pattern or the talent (or lack
thereof), many songs never sound "quite right".
Such does not appear to be a difficulty for Ed Gerhard.
Using odd tunings, high strung and slack-key Hawaiian lap steel set-ups
along with a refined elegance and emotion not often found in today's
guitar solo albums, Gerhard takes us on a lilting and moving journey
through some great classics done in new and softly daring ways.
Along the path, Gerhard calls on a number of old friends to help him. His
pairing of pairing of Lennon and McCartney's "If I Fell" and "In My Life"
is brilliant and well-mixed. A dreamy slide down Mr. Presley's "Can't Help
Falling In Love" makes it an even more tender slow dance. Of Phil
Spector's "Spanish Harlem," Ed asks "how the guy in the song was going to
pick the rose then watch it grow in his garden." Regardless of how the
rose grows, in Ed's care, it blossoms abundantly. For his version of
Mississippi John Hurt's "My Creole Belle," Gerhard picks a "nice and
loose" first-take duet with friend and fellow minstrel Arlo Guthrie (who
is himself coming to Berklee on November 23).
The rest of the album consists of traditional American pieces -- such as a
concluding pick through "The Water is Wide" -- as well as some more
foreign yet no less acquainted choices -- such as the English ballad
"Willy O' Winsbury," the African romance "Malaika" (which hints of Dire
Straits' "Why Worry" and The Beach Boys' "Be True To Your School") and the
Hawaiian good-bye song "Isa Lei". Every song is stirring, caressing the
ears. A great album to read with, romance with, or fall asleep to (though
it deserves to be heard with full wakened attention as well).
Gerhard's albums (more of which will be reviewed in future issues) are
released by New Hampshire's Virtue Records, so I am sure he will be in the
area soon. Until then, check him out on disc and prepare for what is
certainly a most enjoyable concert experience.
- Matt "Rocky" Robinson
© 1996 M. S. Robinson, ARR
Be sure to read his Live Review...