MICHAEL ELSNER


"Stained Voodoo" (Glass Records; 2006)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

A lot of instrumental guitar albums are either explosions in technical ecstasy or ruminations in mood and melody. Rarely does an instrumental album exist that sticks to rock'n'roll basics – a sort of hallowed middle ground that forms the basis for most of our listening experiences. Michael Elsner’s “Stained Voodoo” finds happiness in the rock'n'roll basics.

The leadoff track, “Crack Puppies,” is a sturdy rocker in which the rhythm guitar supports the soaring lead lines – a great indication of what’s to follow. Southern rock vibes and slinky funk make the presence known via Hammond B3 organ on a few tracks that makes it stand out from all the other instrumental rock CDs that all end up like Joe Satriani clones. 

Funny enough, Elsner has a track called “Satch” in which he cops all the famous licks that Joe Satriani made famous. I think it is ingenious that for nine out of ten tracks on “Stained Voodoo” Elsner does the best job I’ve heard ever avoiding Satriani comparisons then actually goes completely overboard in an auspicious way to mock all the Satriani clones out there.

The closing track, “You Again,” has vocals and it is a fitting closure as it highlights some of the more soulful elements of the disc.

While few guitarists truly separate themselves some at least give me hope – and Michael Elsner’s style successfully blends technical aspects and melody into a pleasing listening experience. 

“Stained Voodoo” is a great representation of solidly performed instrumental rock.

“Stained Voodoo” was produced by Michael Elsner.

Michael Elsner is joined by John Massey on bass, Jeff Bowders on drums, Bryce Bell on Hammond B3 organ, Bryan Sitler on keyboards, John Reed Austin on sax, Dave Johnstone on drums, and David Thiele on vocals.

For more information visit http://www.michaelelsner.com


"Stained Voodoo" (Glass Records; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Heavy music needs instrumental guitar dudes just to keep the music moving forward. I like the variety of what an instrumental musician needs to do just to keep the music flowing. They have no vocalist to hide behind so they just have to blow ahead and see what comes out.  

I knew nothing about Michael Elsner before I listened to this CD but from what I can know now just based on musical talent alone, I am very impressed with -- not only the quality of music -- but with the range of emotions that Mr. Elsner can emulate.  

Michael Elsner and his "Stained Voodoo" CD can join the ranks of other Rough Edge “guitar dude” favorites like Sam Kazerooni, Michael Sobygge,  Kevin Zugschwert, Michael Gibbons and others who we have had the pleasure of reviewing.  Mr. Elsner is one talented musician and has a great grasp on what makes instrumental music fun and engrossing.

For more information, check out http://www.michaelelsner.com


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 


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