John Goldie: Picked In The Past

~ Tuesday, 3 August 2010
When you read the track listing of this album you could be forgiven for thinking this is just another covers record designed as background muzak for pretentious wine bars but you would be doing a serious injustice to this outstanding piece of work. Goldie's name will be familiar to guitar fans as he is regarded as one of the finest finger stylists in the world but he will be a new name to most people even though this is his fifth solo album. The guitar skills and musicianship on display with this instrumental album are simply mind blowing and far beyond the reach of most guitarists.

When Goldie first became interested in the guitar in the 70's, it was a voyage of discovery that led him to emulate the likes of Richie Blackmore, Paul Kossoff and Brian May by jamming along to their records and honing his skills. His career path saw him swap the electric guitar for the acoustic and experiment more with finger style techniques but he always harboured a love for the music of his youth. With Picked In The Past Goldie has taken 13 rock classics (and a wonderful version of the Mission Impossible theme) that influenced him and arranged them for acoustic guitar. Not quite as simple as it sounds. To comprehend what Goldie has achieved with this album is quite literally mind bending. With just him and his faithful Martin guitar, no over duds or studio trickery, he has captured the complexity, melody, feel and spirit of some of rocks most famous tunes.

The album kicks of with Free's classic Alright Now and is instantly recognisable. The familiarity we all have with these tracks and Goldie's arrangements of them are what makes this album a work of art in its own right. Black Magic Woman and Stay With Me
become something far more intriguing that Santana or The Faces originals with a hypnotic catharticness about them. An odd track to cover is Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love but Goldie brings out the jazz blues that underpinned the track but was hidden behind the theatrics of Mercury and co. Indeed, Brian May has lavished praise on Goldie's take on the song as has Bill Wyman with his version of The Rolling Stones Honky Tonk Woman.

On an album littered with little gems there are a few nuggets that shine ever so slightly brighter than others. Bowie's Space Oddity sounds quite unlike you have ever heard it played before and is quite simply beautiful. The Eagles Desperado is equally beguiling. Goldie has to be applauded for taking songs that most people know inside out and breathing new life into them. This is a truly amazing piece of work.

[][][][][] (5/5)