"Big Dumb Rock" (No Hair Records; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Big Dumb Rock" plays like a classic rock album with AOR sensibilities. The weird thing is that it's an instrumental CD. And it's not an instrumental CD in the Joe Satriani or Steve Vai sense. Those guys are such virtuosos that you know you're really buying the music for their performances alone.

The Taz Taylor Band, however, plays more like a single unit, rather than as a showcase for a star. That's both a good and a bad thing. The good thing is that the songs don't focus on a single instrument or performance. The bad thing is that sometimes, something seems to be missing. It's an unfortunate Catch 22 that sometimes makes "Big Dubm Rock" sound like one of those licensing compilation CDs, the ones that are offering music for licensing for use in the movies and TV, rather than a rock'n'roll album.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad CD by any means. It's fun and easy to listen to and it kicks ass where it's supposed to. The musicianship is outstanding and the tracks are never boring. At the same time, however, nothing really reaches out and grabs you, either. Nonetheless, I look forward to hearing it again soon.

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

"Caffeine Racer" (Warner Bros./No Hair; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The twelve tracks on the all-instrumental “Caffeine Racer” don’t really stretch the boundaries of guitar instrumentals ... nor did I expect it to. Sometimes it’s enough to hear an artist pour every ounce of emotion into their music and that’s exactly what happens with Taz Taylor’s first disc.

One of my greatest fears when listening to a guitar instrumental is that it will sound too much like Joe Satriani. There are no such problems with “Caffeine Racer” I can assure you. To be sure, the Satriani influences are easy to spot on occasion due to some of the more technical aspects of a few songs, but it’s really the heavy influence of guitarist Michael Schenker that gives “Caffeine Racer” its base and support. I also hear a lot of Vinnie Moore circa the “Meltdown” CD as tracks like “Major Minority” and “On The Edge” will attest to.

“Caffeine Racer” doesn’t overstay its welcome either. The album’s twelve tracks clock in a memorable 35 minutes with zero wasted notes. It’s almost perfect in the senses that it is nearly completely satisfying with just that little hint that leaves you wanting more.

Melody is the bottom line in nearly every single guitar-oriented song and the challenge to come up with twelve memorable songs is no easy trick. Taz Taylor handles the challenge well. The bottom line is that “Caffeine Racer” is chock-full of heartfelt music and I can’t argue with that.

“Caffeine Racer” was produced by Taz Taylor and Richard Livoni; engineering conducted by Livoni. There is a clarity to the production that allows the melodies and tones to shine through like beacons.

On “Caffeine Racer” Taz Taylor plays all guitars, bass, and keyboards; Calvin Lakin plays drums.

For more information visit http://www.taztaylor.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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Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:30 -0400.