IN ASSOCIATION WITH
Soundtrack of my life
The exploratory guitarist reveals the music that sent him on a journey from Mississippi to the Sahara – and beyond
Few players have mixed African and Western styles with the deftness of touch of Justin Adams. He honed his approach during an eight-year stint on guitar with Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart, and Led Zep fans will know him from Robert Plant’s Strange Sensation band. Saharan sensations Tinariwen hit the big time with the help of Adams’ production skills, and he’s now one of the top knobtwiddlers in pan-continental music. Right now his focus is on a partnership with Gambian Juldeh Camara, player of the riti, a one-string harp. Dubbed JuJu, the pair’s hypnotic jams have thrilled listeners both live and on CD with the new album, In Trance.
Otis Redding THE VERY BEST OF I was into punk as a teen, but this led me back to the blues. On songs like Try A Little Tenderness Steve Cropper’s guitar is so restrained, yet it’s the anchor of the arrangement – the whole band is just sitting with that rhythmical guitar. The playing is just so funky! It was an explosion for me.
Blind Willie Johnson DARK WAS THE NIGHT I love the spooky lyrics and the gravelly voice that sounds like it comes from another world – it’s as dark as hell. He played mostly bottleneck.
The rhythmic drive that he got on Soul Of A Man… I defy anybody in the world to play like that now. It becomes like waves of sound. It’s just totally gut-wrenching.
Richard and Linda Thompson I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT You can hear Richard had been listening to flute, violin and even bagpipes on folk tunes, and he’s trying to get some of those sounds with his guitar.
He was doing these very emotive bends, almost singing with the guitar, but he always had that raw, spiky tone. The guitar sound on Calvary Cross just killed me.
Ali Farke Touré NIAFUNKÉ He was the first to take traditional African music and figure out how to get those sounds on an electric guitar. I love the drone and the rhythmic flow of the guitar and I was drawn to his mean, bluesy, dark tone. It swings like crazy but it’s also very trancey, with tough minor keys and seventh notes.
Staples Singers THE BEST OF THE VEE-JAY YEARS I love Pops Staples’ playing on this early stuff – he’s got this beautiful tremolo sound. He’s playing the bass notes with his thumb… it’s a gentle sound, but it’s 100 per cent groove. Listen to You Don’t Knock – those pentatonic scales are simple, but there’s nobody left that can play them like Pops Staples. Nobody!
Tinariwen THE RADIO TISDAS SESSIONS I went to the Sahara to meet Tinariwen when we made this record and it was quite an experience. For them their music is a heavy cultural statement about their people. They somehow subtly adapt the sights and sounds of the desert into their music, but they know about rock’n’roll, too – they really love it!
DVD of the month
The Love We Make PAUL MCCARTNEY Eagle Vision This touching black and white film shadows McCartney as he explores New York’s memories of 9-11 in the build-up to the Concert For New York City. A moving journey, both intimate and uplifting.
Fret-King Eclat DBC released Fret-King has announced a new signature electric for primo Brit rock guitarist Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell. Colwell worked with luthier extraordinaire Trevor Wilkinson to develop it, aiming for a vintage feel that would befit a guitarist who’s played all over the world with the likes of Paul Rodgers’ Bad Company and Humble Pie as well as his own rock outfit, Bucket & Co. This lightweight solidbody has a two-piece, centre-joined mahogany body with ‘thumbscoop’ for easy access to the upper frets, a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and is armed with a Wilkinson dog-ear WP90 single-coil. Now all you need is a crazy nickname. See www.fret-king.com for more.
FEBRUARY 2012 Guitar & Bass 13