"The Urge" (Relativity; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Despite having gained fame for playing with the likes of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Frank Gambale, and Eric Johnson, bass player extraordinaire Stu Hamm released his own solo records in relative obscurity. Here’s my little effort to help Stu Hamm rise above that undeserved obscurity in the collective conscience known as Rough Edge.

As one might expect, Hamm’s bass playing is very prominent in “The Urge,” but not overly dominant. Hamm lets the songs flow with the melody regardless of the instrument that is doing the lion’s share of the work. Granted, since this is Hamm’s own solo record, bass does get priority over some of the other instruments, but it’s all done in grand style and restraint.

“The Hammer” has a great melody with a vibe that is not unlike something that Satriani or Vai could have created. Humor, long one of Stu Hamm’s most recognizable traits, is in full bloom on “If You’re Scared, Stay Home!” which gets the funky side of Hamm out and in the open. “Lone Star” fits in the vein of these two songs as it melds the funky bass lines and shiny melody into a tight weave.

On a number of tracks Hamm sings lead vocals; nothing spectacular here, but Hamm has a reasonably serviceable voice that conveys the lyrics quite well. Ballads are not virgin territory either as the understated “Our Dreams” makes very clear.

A majority of the songs exceed five minutes in length, which many would consider a bit long, but gives Hamm and his band mates plenty of chances to show off their musical and instrumental prowess. In fact, “Quahogs Anyone?” is a bass solo recorded live in California and clearly demonstrates Hamm’s ability to use the bass as rhythm and lead instrument with equal flair. 

Each playback of “The Urge” reveals new and exciting things. If you like instrumental music or favor a bit of virtuosity with your songs then Stu Hamm’s “The Urge” is worth a listen.

“The Urge” was produced by Stu Hamm and Micajah Ryan.

Stu Hamm plays all bass and vocals. Hamm is joined by Jonathan Mover on drums, Harry K. Cody on guitar, Dawayne Bailey on rhythm guitar, Buzzy Feiten on guitar, The Steve Madero Horns, Tommy Mars on backing vocals, The Children Of The Valley Home Schoolers, Steve Smith on drums, Tommy Lee on drums and backing vocals, Eric Johnson on guitar, Micajah Ryan on acoustic guitar, Steve Recker on rhythm guitar, Bruce Hamm on tamboura, and Jorge Bermudez on percussion.

For more information visit the Stu Hamm-approved fan website

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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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2022 15:17:12 -0400.