MICHAEL LANDAU – Rock Bottom (2018)
Now this is a special post on this blog: guitar master MICHAEL LANDAU is releasing a new solo album titled “Rock Bottom“. It’s not special ‘cos the music style is different from the usually featured here – its title speaks for itself, this is Rock music – but for the fact that Landau is one of our favorite guitar players of all time.
And we celebrate this release, because Landau has been playing mostly instrumental music for the past 10 years, and out of nowhere he woke up one morning with the strong urge to play some hard-edged music with vocals.
Landau says: “Guess it makes sense because it’s really the music I grew up on. So I reunited with my ole pal David Frazee from the Burning Water days. We wrote a lot of songs together, most of which ended up on Rock Bottom.”
As hired gun, and part of the legendary 80s LA Session scene, Landau has recorded on over 1,000 records, for such diverse artists from Miles Davis, B.B. King or Pink Floyd, to Steve Perry, John Parr, Van Stephenson, Marc Jordan and countless more AOR luminaries.
And it’s to his credit that on “Rock Bottom” he treads his own eclectic path.
He’s a virtuoso, but more a ‘feel player’ for whom restraint gives him several dynamic options, while he joyfully leans into the grooves and consistently aims to embellish the songs rather than dominate them.
‘Rock Bottom’ is by no means a concept album, but the title could almost be a reference to the feel and ambiance of an album that relies significantly on tones, moods, grooves and contrasting solos, over back drop of a subtle stuttering rhythm section.
Michael Landau is a ‘players player’ who combines notes and feel with tonal depth, only that ones the song need, and an unwavering focus on creative expression.
There’s a wide broad stylistic brushstrokes all over “Rock Bottom”, an adventurous spirit yet always focused on the song format.
And that TONE… wow, Landau is unique. You KNOW it’s him, no matter if it’s a simple riff or a concise solo.
Listen for example, to the sheer feel of ‘We’re All The Same’, which is touched by greatness, but much like the album as a whole, doesn’t quite reveal enough of itself to beguile us.
“Rock Bottom” barely wastes a note on an intricately woven album, rooted in exquisite interplay. It sparkles with uplifting musicianship, subtle tonal colors, all at the service of great Rock songs.
Then there’s the conceit of the atmospheric ‘Freedom’ which draws us in, while the languid bluesy shuffle of ‘Heaven In The Alley’ is superbly complemented with David Frazee’s angst ridden vocal.
One of the album highlights is without a doubt ‘One Tear Away’, complete with Landau’s harmony vocals contribution.
The slow ‘Gettin’ Old’ is really atmospheric, complete with an angular solo and spoken word vocals in a classic rock, bluesy warp. On ‘We All Feel The Same’ Landau paint the track with a lovely volley of piercing and aching notes, with some clever wah-wah effects emulating a voice.
“Rock Bottom” is a complete classic rock record from master Michael Landau, an exquisite guitar and tone driven album that dips into blues, rock, funk, a fusion genres to shape its own unique style, which ultimately is timeless, sophisticated Rock music.
The disc reveals a broad musical landscape that goes a long way to explaining Michael Landau’s high standing in the guitar world, and in the history of the Rock scene as a whole.
01 – Squirrels
02 – Bad Friend
03 – Gettin Old
04 – We All Feel The Same
05 – We’re Alright
06 – One Tear Away
07 – Poor Dear
08 – Freedom
09 – Heaven In The Alley
10 – Speak Now, Make Your Peace
David Frazee – vocals
Teddy Landau – bass
Alan Hertz – drums
Michael Landau – guitars, vocals
BUY IT !