High praise for Paisley

Brad Paisley…

Not a name that means much in the UK, but in the US he’s probably the biggest thing in Country music since the dreadful Garth Brooks. However, what makes Paisley stand out from the rest of the big hat-wearing, shit-kicking, yee-haw brigade is his simply stunning guitar playing.

Ignore the stupid hat – just listen to this guy play!

Now, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a closet Country music fan but whether it’s from the 1940s with Western Swing from Bob Wills, or the present day with artists like Paisley, it’s always the instrumental work which draws me and if its good then I can tolerate the worst examples of  Country cliche.

Paisley’s an interesting character.

I have few doubts that his meteoric rise to fame was as much due to the publicity machine as it was to his talent. He has no ‘pedigree’ as a session player or sidesman and no notable musical career prior to his solo work but he does have – rather tellingly – a degree in Music Business…

However, as a guitarist he’s second to none and can more than hold his own in the company of people like James Burton, Albert Lee, Steve Wariner and John Jorgenson.

To hear Paisley really strut his stuff, try and listen to his ‘Play’ album which features virtually all instrumental work – with a few vocal tracks which you’ll probably want to skip if you really don’t like country singing.

With a palette of styles which run from country through jazz, blues and rock to bluegrass, Paisley ought to be dismissed by rights as a jack of all trades, but, dammit, he’s such a fucking tasty player that you can marvel at his talent no matter what he plays. He also mixes it up, such as in ‘Cliffs of Rock City’ which has to be a tribute to Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover” even if you ignore the obvious title similarity. Imagine Johnson with A1 country chops and you’ll get an idea of what the track sounds like.

Another notable track is “Cluster Pluck” with guest guitarists James Burton, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert and Steve Wariner. Esteemed company indeed, as each player takes a chorus and some serious headcutting takes place.

“Departure” is another fabulous track and you can see Paisley playing the main figure in this video :

What a gorgeous bit of playing that is, with the open string on top – definitely one that’s going to get nailed next time I haul out my Tele.

What else?

Oh, BB King singing and playing on “Let the Good Times Roll” with BP and BB trading vocals and solos – that ain’t too shabby…

“Les is More” features Paisley in jazzy mode – phew, has he got chops, or what?

He even makes a nice job of gospel with “What a Friend we have in Jesus” showing that he’s not just an electric player but a fine acoustic player too.

Shit – there’s even some surf guitar on “Turf’s Up” – geddit?

I can’t praise this album highly enough – program out a few tracks and you have what is a fine guitar album no matter what your taste in music might be and if you want a few “WHOA, WHAT THE FUCK DID HE DO THERE???” moments then this might be the motherfucker for you…

It’s on Spotify so you can even listen before you buy!


3 Responses

  1. Nice one Steve. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m now listening to “Play” on Spotify. Cliffs of Rock City is a bit slower paced than “Dover” but there’s seriously nice licks going on in it. A purchase looks likely. 🙂


  2. OK – I bought “Play” and it’s been my main companion on my iPod for the past few days. Everything you said about his playing is true. There are some great licks and he pulls them off with some aplomb. So far my favourite song is “Start A Band” . This is a vocal song you shouldn’t skip because there’s some really tasty twin harmony guitar work with Keith Urban. The intro is soooo cheesy, but persever with it and you’ll be in a place which is also inhabited by the ghosts of Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash, This song is one to learn!! Even the sentiment is OK – “Start A Band” ‘Nuff said..

  3. I’m really glad you rate BP and that album. It’s always good when you enthuse about something and ‘spread the word’.
    Check out his other albums. Some great instrumentals on them, too. The uptempo songs also feature some great playing – try ‘The World’ and ‘Mr Policeman’.
    My main reservations about BP concern his smoothness, but when he plays that goes out the window. The more I hear him, the more I’m in awe of the guy.
    One of those people that make me wonder why I bother!

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