Leslie West might be best known as the guitar hero, founding member and current leader of the classic rock combo Mountain. 70’s hits like “Mississippi Queen,” “Nantucket Sleighride” and “Theme From an Imaginary Western” solidified Leslie as a guitar icon. 2006 finds West returning with “Blue Me,” his latest installment in a series of blues based cover albums.
While the format doesn’t re-invent the wheel, it does deliver all that his fans have come to expect. Gruff vocals compliment his trademark soulful playing as Leslie ploughs through eleven relatively diverse tracks. From the hard rock side, we’re given a passionate blues slant to Montrose’s “One Thing On My Mind” and Free’s “Woman.” The obligatory blues chestnuts “Sinner’s Prayer” and “Standing Around Crying” are also given a stern rocking out. A few less obvious choices are thrown in the mix (Gershwin’s “Summertime” comes to mind) all showcasing Leslie’s scorching fretwork and classic tone.
Sonically, the recording is top-notch, with label-head Mike Varney handling production duties. Guest musicians include legendary veteran Aynsley Dunbar, who along with Tim Fahey, provides a world-class rhythm section. But make no mistake; this is West’s vehicle to shine. While I’m usually partial to original material, “Blue Me” feels fresh and inviting, not only to blues aficionados, but also to all those who appreciate proper guitar heroics.
It's nice to know that, like fellow Woodstock survivor Carlos Santana, West still has some fire left in his belly.
- Leslie West - Guitars, Vocals
- Aynsley Dunbar - Drums
- Tim Fahey - Bass
- Kevin Curry / Todd Wolfe - Rhythm Guitar
- Art Groom / Brian Mitchell - Keyboards
- Blues Before Sunrise
- I Woke Up This Morning
- Four Day Creep
- Hit The Road Jack
- Standin' Around Crying
- One Thing On My Mind
- Green River
- Sinner's Prayer
- Tore Down