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Francis, Chris - 2001 Chris Francis

ARTIST: Francis, Chris
ALBUM: Chris Francis
LABEL: Up To Speed Music
YEAR: 2001


LINEUP: Chris Francis - guitars, keyboards * Lee Miller - drums * Matt Ratcher - drums * Barry Shotton - bass * Russ Kennedy - bass [fretted & fretless] * Rich Barnard - acoustic guitar ('fools ass' tuning!), percussion, string arrangements * Paul Jacques - piano

TRACK LISTING: 01 Freedom Machine * 02 The Story So Far * 03 C For Miles * 04 Thin Air * 05 Until * 06 Pretzels N' Cheese * 07 Zavoov * 08 Daydream In Green * 09 To High Heaven


This self-titled CD is the debut release from Chris Francis and it's a real treat for those who love guitar instrumental albums with tunes. Those people looking for a Tony McAlpine style neo-classical widdle-fest should look elsewhere. Peopl will also know that Chris has just signed on to become the replacement for Vinny Burns in the band Ten.

The Songs
The opener, 'Freedom Machine' is a really high-energy piece whilst still remaining tuneful; those of you with a good ear will spot some nice Eddie Van Halen touches in the guitar-work. This is followed by 'The Story So Far', which has a great twin-lead sound for its main hook (not sure if its multi-tracked or played with a chorus pedal), which is very rooted in the melodic rock field. This is excellent as it sounds like a chorus driven song, despite its lack of vocal. It also has some cool backwards stuff in the mid-section - a nice touch. 'C For Miles', by contrast, has a dreamy quality, reminding me very much of some stuff from 'Nova's Dream', the under-rated (and probably under-purchased) masterpiece by Aldo Nova. This piece also features some 12-string acoustic playing from up-and-coming London-based musician, Rich Barnard ( 'Thin Air' opens with a Van Halen style riff, so that won me over instantly; it then settles into a nice groove reminding me of Jan Cyrka and perhaps a little Joe Satriani, during one of his more interesting moments. 'Until' is one of my favourites on offer here - a big ballad. This is a beautifully executed piece, which, in feel, reminds me of 'I Remember' from Jan Cyrka's 'Beyond the Common Ground' CD from 1992. Although 'Pretzels & Cheese' is not my favourite thing on offer here, it's probably one of the highlights as far as guitar virtuosity is concerned. A faster-paced number, it's probably closest to 'Freedom Machine' than anything else on the CD. Again, I hear elements of Eddie Van Halen and even, perhaps, a little Steve Morse. 'Zavoov' slows things down, once again; it has jazz elements, a real warmth and an old-school feel, reminiscent of Jeff Beck. A special mention must also go to Paul Jacques, whose piano playing on this track is superb, sounding rather like Pink Floyd's Richard Wright. 'Daydream in Green' is another mid-paced affair, though this time more riff-based. I'll probably get hit for saying so, but it reminds me of Gary Hoey - though without the wah-wah over use. The album's closer, 'To High Heaven', clocking in at just over two minutes is the shortest piece on offer. It's an appropriate closer, huge and majestic. A good reference point would be 'Liberty' from Steve Vai's 'Passion and Warfare'.

In Summary
An excellent debut - essential if you're a guitar instrumental connoisseur, or just as essential if you like a good tune. More info, downloads etc can be found at his website listed above.

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