VINNIE MOORE


"Defying Gravity" (Shrapnel; 2001)



Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Given the fact that “Defying Gravity” and “The Maze” were recorded so close together relative to the entirety of Moore's career, it’s not surprising that the two CDs sound similar. “Defying Gravity” has a bit more of the neo-classical influence that made his 1988 debut “Mind’s Eye” such a treat, but also recalls the days of Moore’s wide range of colors and styles on the under-appreciated “Out Of Nowhere” originally released in 1996.

The extensive neo-classical influences require more than just casual listening. To the uninitiated, “Defying Gravity” might sound like a blur of notes and a barrage of cascading arpeggio runs bleeding into one another. But we all know Moore is too talented to let his songs drown in a flurry of notes and wash of bad production. The songs have an underpinning of more grandiose tones and elegant temperament culminating in well-crafted songs that indeed take the listener on a musical journey.

The crazed, high-tempo numbers are still present (the title track and “Awaken The Madman”), but reduced in number to display more moderate pacing on many of the songs which actually accentuates Vinnie Moore’s virtuoso skills (“Out And Beyond” and “In The Blink Of An Eye” being two noteworthy examples). The moderately paced songs also demonstrate Moore’s patience with his musical ideas and gives the songs freedom to breathe new life into his extensive array of material.

On a trio of tracks it certainly sounds like Vinnie is exorcising whatever demons were created by listening to Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, and Paco DeLucia all these years. The flamenco and Spanish influences hinted at during 1999’s “The Maze” are brought out in full-force on “Defying Gravity” on the acoustic-flavored tracks such as “Last Road Home,” “House With A Thousand Rooms,” and “Equinox.”

“Defying Gravity” is highly recommended for guitar fanatics and those who appreciate virtuoso skills.

“Defying Gravity” was produced by Vinnie Moore. It is a little bit more difficult to ‘hear’ Moore’s guitar on “Defying Gravity”; however, I honestly believe the intent was to make it a more well-rounded sound with all of the instruments sharing equally in the harmonic space provided in the structure of the songs.

Vinnie Moore is joined by Dave LaRue on bass, Steve Smith on drums, and David Rosenthal on keyboards.

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


"Defying Gravity" (Shrapnel; 2001)



Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

My esteemed East Coast Editor, Mr. Christopher Kelter, has been ballyhooing the talents of guitarist Vinnie Moore for years. Just check out his reviews below. Myself, I haven't paid nearly enough attention to the man, an artist who has enjoyed quite a successful career in the rock'n'roll industry.

So, when "Defying Gravity" appeared in my mailbox, I thought, "Okay, I'll take this one," and decided to give it a listen myself. I don't know what I expected but I can tell you that it wasn't the music I found on "Defying Gravity."

Although there are undeniable and probably unavoidable similarities in the style of Moore and other guitar shredders like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, Moore's "Defying Gravity" took me by surprise because, for at least the first seven or so tracks, the music was worldly, sometimes exotic and definitely not metal. I hear a lot of Spanish influence and perhaps even some Flamenco on several tracks and not the hard rock / heavy metal shredder I expected. Don't get me wrong - "Defying Gravity" is a strong and impressive recording, but those first few tracks just weren't what I expected.

And then track eight comes along. It's almost as if Moore has said, "Okay, enough of the John Williams stuff" and offers a full-on shred fest with "Awaken the Madman." Then, just to keep you guessing, he throws in the "Surfing With the Alien" style of "In the Blink of an Eye" next. Then, it's back to the Spanish influence with "Equinox," the heavy rock with "Emotion Overload" and the short but sweet closer "Between Then and Now." 

Throughout the entire CD, Moore's talent is evident. Even when he's not playing with blurred fingers, "Defying Gravity" sounds good. The songs are well-written and the guitars performed with tremendous talent. The other instruments get short shrift but lets not forget - this is a guitar album, first and foremost.

If you're looking for heavier stuff from Vinnie Moore, it might be wise to look elsewhere. If a little more variety is to your liking, check out "Defying Gravity."

Performing on "Defying Gravity" are Vinnie Moore - guitar; Dave LaRue - bass; Steve Smith - drums; David Rosenthal - keyboards.

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


"Vinnie Moore Live!" (Shrapnel; 2000)



Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I am not a huge fan of live discs, but sometimes one must accept them for what they are - simple snapshots of time that capture a moment of an artist performing for their fans. Back in June 1999 I jumped at the chance to see Vinnie Moore in concert - literally the same set is played on this disc.

From 1987 through the present Vinnie Moore has traveled a musical odyssey. At first Moore played an integral part of the neo-classical fusion explosion in the late '80s; Moore branched out toward simpler hard rock leanings in the mid-Nineties before merging the fusion and rock worlds with 1999's "The Maze." What is most mind-boggling is that Moore continues to be an under-appreciated guitarist and musician.

I am a great fan of Moore's technical abilities, but, oddly enough, the standout tracks here are the bluesier hard-rock numbers like "VinMan's Brew" and "With The Flow." The smooth legato of "Rain" and azure-like "Watching From The Light" fit in nicely with up-tempo rockers like "The Maze" and "Meltdown."

Two tracks that Moore was unable to play (due to time constraints) at the concert I attended are here in all their glory. "Never Been To Barcelona" and "She's Only Sleeping" both highlight Moore's ability to play understated songs that bleed passion and melody without resorting to the typical revved up histrionics that Moore is famous for.  At the time of the concert I was disappointed that no material from Moore's stellar sophomore effort "Time Odyssey" was considered for inclusion in the live set; once again I am disappointed that nothing from that disc is included here. Oh well, I guess I can't have everything.

At the time of the concert I was equally impressed by Moore's talented band mates. I'd already been impressed by drummer Shane Gaalaas who played on Moore's "The Maze." Barry Sparks was adept at playing the complex bass parts required of Moore's arrangements and he always played with a smile - that happiness shines through and through on this live disc. Wayne Findlay gets my vote for "Too Much To Do, So Little Time To Do It Award" as he was busy playing rhythm guitar and keyboards without missing a beat. Great talents such as Vinnie Moore usually get to surround themselves with more great talent and this live recording is no exception.

What I enjoy most about this live disc is the fact that I can keep a great and recent memory alive a little longer than usual. I wish to take nothing away from this disc, however, if you are unfamiliar with Vinnie Moore's work I would highly recommend his studio work before considering this wonderful disc.

"Vinnie Moore Live!" was produced by Vinnie Moore and was recorded on May 5th and 6th, 1999 in Palo Alto, California. The production is quite solid which is a relief as many live CDs suffer from poor recording quality ("Van Halen Live: Right Here, Right Now" comes to mind) (Editor's note: As does Union's "Live in the Galaxy").

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


The Maze (Shrapnel; 1999)



Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Vinnie Moore has just released a new album that delivers the musical goods in grand fashion. "The Maze" is a return to the glorious past of his neo-classical fusion days without forsaking the paths he's traveled in the intervening years. The ten instrumental tracks provide a wealth of soundscapes, tones, and musical styles. In my opinion, "The Maze" equals or excels the artistic success of "Time Odyssey" in every imaginable way - no small feat. From beginning to end, "The Maze" satisfies at every twist and turn, every subtle change in song structure, every dazzling guitar solo, and every dramatic sonic shift.

"The Maze" allows Vinnie Moore to do what great artists do - combine the elements of the past while taking the music to a brave new future. The songs contain hints of the blistering lead runs of "Mind's Eye," the classical elements found on "Time Odyssey," the hard rock groove of "Meltdown" and the varying tonality found on "Out Of Nowhere." Vinnie Moore has captured the essence of music - to engage the listener in a journey of drama and depth of emotion.

The epic title track is a perfect introduction to the chops and progressive song-writing talent that Vinnie Moore has always provided his fans. The rocking "King Of Kings" has majestic, sustained chords balanced by a smooth melody. The ethereal "Cryptic Dreams" pulls the listener in with staccato music under flowing single-note melodies with a soaring lead. The flamenco-inflected "Never Been To Barcelona" provides sonic relief in an understated, yet still impressive acoustic guitar frenzy. The dreamy "Watching From The Light" enchants with its splendid guitar echoes. "The Thinking Machine" is one staccato barrage after another without sounding repetitive. The urban somberness of  "Rain" provides some sonic relief with subtle keyboard arpeggios and soft, lilting guitar. "In The Healing Garden" may lack some of the spark of the other tunes, yet is subtly engaging as the guitar drifts in and out of music almost unnoticeably. Dazzling progressive technique and a unique song structure ends the disc with "Trials and Trepidation."

"Eye Of The Beholder" may very well be the best track on the disc. The interplay of guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums is exciting without being too difficult to follow. The song has a firm foundation in the style of the 1988 release "Time Odyssey" without sounding derivative of the tunes found therein. The taut sections of the song vary from keyboard soirees to halting guitar chords; however, during each section Vinnie plays appropriately without cluttering up the momentum of the song.

Vinnie Moore's guitar work is complemented by a trio of magnificent musicians:  Dave LaRue (The Dregs) provides ample rhythmic variety on bass, Shane Gaalaas (Yngwie J. Malmsteen and the Michael Schenker Group) keeps the beat interesting with powerful and solid drumming, and the multi-talented Tony MacAlpine fills out the harmonic space with keyboards.

Once again, Vinnie Moore produces himself. Vinnie Moore must pride himself on achieving the exact results he wants as his self-production has always yielded awesome results. Mixing was done by Paul Orofino; the keyboards were recorded by the legendary James Murphy.

Check out Vinnie's new and growing website at http://www.vinniemoore.com


"Out of Nowhere" (Mayhem Records; 1996)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter



Vinnie Moore burst onto the music scene in the late '80s as one of the purveyors of neo-classical fusion. Vinnie has successfully morphed his style away from neo-classical fusion in a more rock-oriented direction. Released in 1996, but recorded in 1994, the variety and competent performances make you wonder why this guy couldn't find anyone to distribute his music. Although his music has become more rock-oriented, the fact that his music has become more universal is a certain strength lacking in his earlier releases.

The disc starts in a solid manner with the energetic "With The Flow" but without resorting to the bombastic style of his previous disc. "Echoes" and "Time Traveler" are stellar tracks. Vinnie repeats his style from "Meltdown" on "770 Days," but when you're talented it's easy to forgive. Always balancing superb technical innovation with a strong sense of melody, "Out Of Nowhere" is great listening. The only weak track is a ditty called "VinMan's Brew" which finds Vinnie straying too far into territory that has been done a thousand times elsewhere by other artists.

Vinnie is supported by Brian Tichy on drums and Dorian Heartsong on bass. Vinnie produces himself on this record. One can argue about artists producing themselves and having the results be less than stellar, but Vinnie's production is a means to an end - what you hear in the final product is exactly the way he intends it to be - not some producer's twist.

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


"Out of Nowhere" (Mayhem Records; 1996)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Vinnie Moore has slung axes for UFO, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony MacAlpine and others. He put out a few solo disc during the 80s and 90s. His latest was 2001 (which was reviewed here by the East and West coast editors), so unless there’s a Brit who wants to wage in on the talents I guess us Americans will have the last word.

I picked up this disc for about a buck one day because I remembered the neo-classical stuff that Moore released back in 1988. I was surprised and relieved to hear that style had gone by the wayside. Not that I didn’t enjoy Vinnie’s lightning fast playing, I just couldn’t ever keep up with the guy. So when I popped this bargain find into my CD player, I felt a little better and I picked up my guitar to try and play along.

Vinnie seems to have taken his sound -- and since he produced it, it’s his sound -- and geared it toward traditional instrumental rock. Since he doesn’t rely on any singer to interject, he makes his guitar sing all the right notes. Those who have “Meltdown” won’t hear much difference; maybe that’s good -- at least he didn’t go higher octave on us. But those looking for vintage Vinnie might not like it.

His playing is solid no doubt, and maybe maturing musically has its benefits and curses. I like what I hear -- he still rips it up and anyone looking to translate his tablature better know what they're doing. I can still hear his neo-classical fire; it just sounds like he slowed it down so he could teach it to someone. Either way, I’m not going to be his guitar tech anytime soon so those who want “Meltdown” Part Two will be happy to have this disc.

For more information, check out http://www.vinniemoore.com/ or http://www.myspace.com/vinniemoore.


"Time Odyssey" (Mercury/Squawk; 1988)



Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

An undeniable neo-classical fusion masterpiece, "Time Odyssey" was a great follow-up to Vinnie Moore's debut. I still can't believe that this was released in Summer 1988 - this disc is as exciting to listen to now as it was then.

This is mandatory listening for anyone with an interest in guitar virtuosos. "Time Odyssey" is a classically influenced collection with soaring melodies, palatial passages, grand arrangements, and stunning technique. It's one thing to say that a guitarist is technically proficient, it's another thing to say that a guitarist uses his technical skills to create beautiful, timeless music. Vinnie Moore is an artist whose technical skills actually help him achieve his musical vision.

All ten tracks are phenomenal; each song has its own mood and spirit.  However, "Message In A Dream" and "The Tempest" are two epic tracks that highlight the Vinnie Moore experience circa 1988.

Other tracks highlight Vinnie Moore's abilities. "Time Odyssey" satisfies at every turn no matter what Vinnie chooses to do. Let loose with a barrage of blistering runs? Listen to the blazing "Race With Destiny" for amazing guitar where the melody and solo mesh together.  Lay down supple leads over slow movements? Listen to the majestic "As Time Slips By." Vinnie Moore doesn't falter when merging two classical pieces ("April Sky") or interpreting another guitarist's great song ("While My Guitar Gently Weeps").  As with the debut, "Time Odyssey" is self-produced. Engineering assistance on 'Time Odyssey" was provided by Joe Alexander and Brooke Henderson. Although the tone of the guitar and the music if not stellar, it was quite good for 1988.

"Time Odyssey" includes Vinnie Moore on guitar, Michael Bean on bass, Jordan Rudess on keyboards, and Joe Franco on drums. Bean, Rudess, and Franco are stalwart talents that allow Moore to achieve his stunning artistry.

For more information check out http://www.vinniemoore.com/ to keep tabs on this ground breaking guitarist.


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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