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Baroque Rocks! Reviews
LES FRADKIN - "Baroque Rocks!"
RRO Entertainment (RRO-1031)
On this album, Fradkin's expertise on the Starr Labs Ztar Midi Guitar, is simply brilliant with an added dash of amazing. He used the Midi guitar to simulate fantastic keyboard and orchestral sounds while providing solid percussion; added with his flawless technique, Les has created another winning disc.Baroque Rocks! definitely pays a huge homage to Antonio Vivaldi. The first track begins with the opening movement of the ninth concerto of Opus 8. As with most of the tracks, Les plays it rather straight and sticks with the compositional building blocks of the music, but the Mellotron and harpsichord and percussion, give it a new take; surprisingly, I was hooked with this excellent new interpretation.The majority of Vivaldi's ‘The Four Seasons’ makes up tracks 4 through 7. Aside from the opening track, this is my personal favorite part of the album. Fradkin varies the illustrative sounds that Vivaldi composed with the addition of his signature digital effects and technique. In the ‘Winter’ section, Fradkin keeps it closer to the great composer by his use of harpsichord sounds.Mason Williams’ ‘Classical Gas,’ Pachelbel’s ‘Canon,’ and Handel are all Fradkin-ized on the album, the former utilizing some killer synth sounds. But after listening to 2/3s of Baroque Rocks! ,besides the high quality masterly of the instrumentation, a subtle sameness to the approach slightly overpowered even Fradkin's expertise. Too much of a good thing? Or not enough variety in the composer's and song choices? Difficult to say.Baroque Rocks! is like having the Boston Pops married with Yngwie Malmsteen's technique, and clever digital trappings that make it very enjoyable. I was happily surprised how Les approached the body of work, adding his mastery (and digital spin), without venturing into corny or hokey territory. By the way, production quality is very good.I would consider this one of the best classical homage albums done by a rocker. If this is your bag, this a definite must buy. But as a progrocker, I would have loved to have Les used a few more dynamic composers that would have fit into a more proggy motif. Still, Les clearly shows a deep love for the Baroque Classical composers, and this fondness definitely is contagious to this listener. Nice job.Rating 8.9 (If you are a hardcore or experimental prog fans, you need not apply. Grading is entirely subjective).
LES FRADKIN "Baroque Rocks!"
RRO Entertainment (RRO–1031):
The Myth Of El Cid; Handel Rocks; All The King’s Men; Spring; Summer; Autumn; Winter; Classical Gas; Canon In D; Air On A G-String; Baroque And Roll; Anthem For All Nations
Music of the Baroque era has commonly been raided by rock instrumentalists beguiled by its melodic inventiveness, its variety, its exuberance and its wide-ranging instrumentation, all of which aspects are mirrored in this collection. The Fradkin workshop centres around the remarkable Starr Labs Ztar Midi Guitar (have a look at YouTube to see it in action).
Most of the parts were played from this remarkable instrument, drums included (percussion on this CD is very much to the fore and is handled superbly). Orchestration software takes in Moog, Mellotron and the Vienna Symphonic Library (strings, oboe); the CD insert provides further details of musical resources including harpsichord, organ and a variety of guitars. It’s a joy to listen to this formidable range of equipment in the hands of such an inventive musician.
Vivaldi occupies a special place in the Baroque canon and does so on this disc, as Les exploits to the full key elements of Vivaldi’s craft, not least the “rushing scales, driving rhythms and piercing timbres” singled out by Alex Ross in his fine profile in the The New Yorker of February 2001.
The CD gets off to a cracking start with the opening movement of the ninth concerto of Opus 8, the set which gave the world ‘The Four Seasons’. Presented as either an oboe or a violin concerto, it is best listened to in its former guise — an elegant and tuneful piece featuring smoothly-oiled woodwind played off against penetrating strings and bobbing continuo. In Les’ hands it’s pure dynamite: the Venetian building-blocks are there and fully respected, but the explosiveness of the opening notes is sustained with the Mellotron, harpsichord and the rest reinforced by pounding percussion including — strikingly, in tune with the new title with its Hispanic associations — the clatter of castanets along with timpani and shakers! Track 3 draws on the closing movement of violin concerto No.8 in the relatively neglected but highly accomplished collection published as Opus 7. It’s a sprightly, busy piece wafted along by extremely robust continuo. Here it’s given extra pep, to put it mildly: conjured up is a picture of courtly bustle, ‘a bit European and regal’ as Les himself puts it, hence the title.
‘The Four Seasons’ is made up of four concertos each of three movements, the central slackening the pace and providing sharp tonal and thematic contrasts with the outer. Tracks 4–7 take in the opening movements of all except ‘Summer’, which is represented by the third movement with its dynamic storm sequence. ‘Spring’, that perennial favourite invested with one of Vivaldi’s killer melodies, bursts into life with Moog and Mellotron set against a background of hammering percussion, the famous bird cries given a winningly ‘electronic’ edge as they erupt from either side of the stereo soundstage! Recent flamboyant interpreters of Vivaldi have naturally had a field day not only with these but also with the violent storm scene that follows on, and Les rises to the occasion magnificently with a searing sound picture of the eruption of thunder characteristic of the Mediterranean spring climate, the crashes reinforced by fearsomely droning synth effects. Hailstones accompany thunder in the closing movement of ‘Summer’ in a cascading, swirling flurry of sound from Moog and Mellotron with sharp-toned violins courtesy of Vienna Symphonic Library and adroitly managed percussion. The opening movement of ‘Autumn’ depicts the peasant song and dance that follows upon the safe gathering in of the harvest, the drinkers falling into an intoxicated sleep. The dance here is more of a stomp as Les brings in a characterful Hammond organ to complement the rich palette of sound and hammer home the exhilarating melody. With ‘Winter’ percussive effects take a back seat and the spotlight is on Moog supported by strings and — as scored by Vivaldi to point up the picture of biting winds and icy cold that sets the teeth chattering — that coolest of instruments, the harpsichord.
Tracks 8 to 11 present a mixed programme. Mason Williams’ ‘Classical Gas’ certainly reflects the pace and colour exhibited by much Baroque music (here we are treated to a big bold acoustic guitar sound, actually a nylon string guitar sample played from the Ztar, with snazzy synth orchestration) while Les’ own ‘Baroque And Roll’ is a proud, stately, richly textured piece mirroring the stylistic grandiosity of the period.
Between these we have two thoroughly familiar compositions. Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’ all too often drearily blights Baroque anthologies, but here it comes over as exceptionally vivacious: the famous melody is complemented by a lead Stratocaster that contributes a melody of its own (penned by Les) and accompanied by a sonorous Rickenbacker 12-string. Next, its frequent soulmate, Bach’s ‘Air’, the lead of which consists of a custom made soprano sax patch; it sounds, well, nice and airy, if rather low-key in the context of the CD as a whole.
Let us end with another of the giants of the era. Handel is said to have remarked to a compatriot: “What the English like is something they can beat time to, something that hits them straight on the drum of the ear.” Les has done well to pick out one such specimen for track 2, the boisterous second movement from Opus 6, No.2. What would Handel have made, one wonders, of that larger than life bassline and the thumping percussion competing strenuously with the thrilling lead sounds of Moog and Mellotron? The same ‘Concerti Grossi’ set provides the impulse for the last track. This is the closing movement of Op.6 No.5, a typically elegant minuet dazzlingly transformed into an anthem of truly Handelian majesty (note the striking evocation of an ethereal choir from 2:45). Les deploys four Mellotron dubs to create an awesomely ample soundstage recalling the huge musical resources mustered by the maestro himself in the anthems he composed for the wonderfully reverberant acoustics of Westminster Abbey.
‘Baroque Rocks!’ is very far from being just another ‘RI goes Classical’ collection. Full of clever touches, it constantly surprises, much like Vivaldi’s compositions, and furnishes an object lesson in the skilful use of modern technology to create an illusion of large-scale musical forces — a sleight of hand that brilliantly re-interprets shining compositions sourced from what an eminent writer on the period has termed ‘a fascinating cast of musical magicians’.
Reference: New Gandy Dancer, Issue 90 [July 2009], pp.13-14
One Link Between Them Reviews
"One Link Between Them"
Two words come to mind after a listen to Les Fradkin's music: Original Genius. One of the most original pieces or music that I have heard in a really long time. Playing his MIDI guitar unlike anyone else, most would call his music Spacerock, which is an understatement. Les crafts each song perfectly to where it flows nonstop. Each song contains amazing rhythms and melodies, which left me on my toes wondering what was coming next. I would recommend this to any fan of Progressive, Electronica, and Space Rock music.
I was absolutely blown away by his skill and intelligence. It will definitely leave a permanent mark on anyone who listens to a song. Amazing.
LES FRADKIN-"One Link Between Them" (RRO-1027)
To say that Les Fradkin’s album One Link Between Them is synth-intensive is like saying the sun is kinda hot. Fradkin layers his tunes with inspiring levels of synthesizer sounds and melodies, mixed for optimal keyboard impact. The opening synth salvos on “Lift Off” are in your face and stereo-riffic, as are the big buzzing sawtooth waves and lively percussion on his far-out cover of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” Fradkin makes great use of the Roland GR-1 guitar synth throughout, and there is ample usage of Arturia’s Moog Modular V and Jupiter-8V soft-synths, as well as the GForce M-Tron and, evidently, a real Mellotron as well! Fradkin has sequenced and shredded his way into 2008 with one of the most adventurous digital recordings we’ve heard in a while. Get your synth freak on and lift off with Les Fradkin!
Bro, your style is amazing... I have always loved synths and guitar and you have combined both in a tasty blend of audio orgasmic splendor.... I feel like I ate a quarter of shrooms without the legal ramifications of my actions.... Thanks for capturing what I have heard in my mind for years.... peace, mike
LES FRADKIN-"One Link Between Them" (RRO-1027)
Isn't it a really cool feeling when you discover something or someone that surprises you and simply knocks your socks? Entering the spacerock ring is Mr. Les Fradkin, armed with synthesizers and samples including his featured instrument- Starr Labs Ztar Model Z7S MIDI Guitar. But labeling Les squarely into the Spacerock genre would not be altogether true; combine spacerock, Jean-Michel Jarre and some progrock flair and classical influences and you can at least see where his music is reaching out to.
What I like about `One Link Between Them,' is that Fradkin, makes his guitar synths and the Ztar sing with amazing intonation as if Rick Wakeman was playing a classic synth. His MIDI controller makes good use of a substantial array of equipment and samples but never seems forced, as if he's showing off his new toy. Drum programming is of high standards and on ocassion reaches the height of brilliant, though many of the rhythms, remind me of a classic Jean-Michel Jarre feel.
High points to the album are:
Track 2- `Orbiter,' is a standout! Penned by Mr. Fradkin, the piece starts outs with some tasty Mellotron and settles into some amazing rhythms as well some very cool leads. Les out Jarres Jarre on this track!
Track 3- `From Venus with Love,' composed by Les and Loretta Fradkin is a gorgeous melange of tasty rhythms, beauty and spicy melody. As with Orbiter, I didn't want the track to end, but go on forever.
Track 4- is Steve Vai's `Liberty,' The song really showcases the skill and amazing technique that Les can do, when needed.
The next track is another cover, `Caravan,' (composed by D. Ellington, J.Ticol, I.Mills). Les combines a Middle-eastern influence with his electronic take on Ellington's classic.
Track 6- `Warp Drive,' is exactly what it is titled. Add a little Yngwie, a dash of Jarre, some Tangerine Dream and a classical structure, with a pulsating rocking rhythm and you get a wild track. This track highlights Les' brilliant combination of expression as well as technique.
`Sailing All Alone,' like track 6 was penned by Les, and slows down the pace to showcase his sense of beauty. Again, the music perfectly portrays its title. Tara Coker-Lewis's voice ascends the piece even higher. Beautiful job.
`Longing To Return' briefly returns to the melody and riffs of `From Venus with Love,' but with an amazing beauty that is simply breathtaking. This is a fantastic composition that showcases the simplicity and the sublime. Amazing work Les! I sense a little Vangelis vibe (not soundwise), to this track.
Track 9, "A Dim Twilight", is my favorite, perhaps because it is the more proggier of the album's pieces. Penned again by Les and Loretta Fradkin, the composition to me instills a sense of wonder, some nice interplay with the Mellotron flute, oboe and some tastily bass and digital drums. The song gets stronger as it goes though its 7 plus minute length. The Ztar married with electric guitar is breathtaking! Images of triumph permeate this song- and well it should.
Joe Meek's `Telstar' finishes up the CD. Again, like Vai's composition, I feel that this one of the weaker tracks and personally, I like Les' penned pieces better, yet I do admire his daring as well as giving a nod to tunes and/or performers that he admires.
Did I mention any lows? Nothing to talk about really, the few weaker tracks (IMHO), are still solid because of Les' musicality.
All in all, I really liked this album. The CD has enough change and interest, as well as technique to keep Prog rockers interested. Mellotron sounds are not redundant and over-used, and Mr. Fradkin's musicianship marries well with the (especially his), compositions. If you are a fan of Jean-Michel Jarre, or like new technology, check out this artist- now! But there is more to this man than simple synths; Les combines and transmorphs the new technology with feeling, passion and old-fashioned gusto. He knows how to rock, and can even get you on the dance floor; but also, the music is brimming with intelligence, emotion and care.
I can't wait to hear what this talented performer does on his next venture. It would be neat to hear a few longer tracks, so Les could spin his array of textures with a larger palette. I can envision a modern Supper's ready-like epic piece coming from Les' Ztar. Also, it might be interesting to add a few traditional instruments into the mix, as a highlight or accent.
9.2 out of 10 rating
LES FRADKIN- "One Link Between Them" (RRO-1027)
One man and his Ztar...the one man is guitarist/keyboard player Les Fradkin, and for those of you who are wondering (and I'm sure most of you are) the Ztar is a MIDI guitar created by Starr Labs, and sort of looks like a cross between a Steinberger electric guitar and a SynthAxe. One Link Between Them is a fun ten song collection of instrumental tracks that mix space rock, electronica, ambient soundcapes, and progressive rock, showcasing Fradkin's keen sense of melody and adventure. Most of the synth & keyboard samples evoke classic sounds of Moogs, Mellotrons, and various Roland synthesizers, giving the album a very rich and futuristic flavor. Hearing Les tackle Steve Vai's "Liberty" (one of three covers on the album) is a real hoot, and his programmed drums and blinding Moog Modulator, permeated with haunting Mellotron, make "Warp Drive" one hell of a ride. Mellotron and Moog sounds once again rear their head on the severe melancholy of "Sailing All Alone", while the 7-minute "A Dim Twilight" features lush Mellotron & Oboe flutes that eventually give way to majestic synthesizer melodies that will please any serious prog rocker. Fradkin's closing take on the Joe Meek space anthem "Telstar" almost sounds like ELO, with some surf guitar lines thrown in for good measure.
One Link Between Them is an enjoyable listen, and is highly recommended to lovers of keyboard and guitar synth instrumental music.
LES FRADKIN - "ONE LINK BETWEEN THEM"
The cliche "think outside of the box" applies very appropriately to the new disc by Les Fradkin - One Link Between Them. Les builds on an electronic foundation that can be traced as far back as the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request, and he takes the Starr Labs Ztar on a stellar journey via this concept album. Snippets of the Moody Blues, ELO, King Crimson and 80s Eurobeat bands (New Order and OMD come to mind) are also evident in Les' musical blitz on the astral and aural senses. One Link Between Them represents a dramatic departure from the guitar-driven pop-rock that Les is well-known for. However, if you study his earlier prog-rock, synth-rock and instrumental material, you won't be surprised by Les' latest artistic endeavor. Over forty years ago, Roger McGuinn challenged the studio technology of his time to create new forms of musical expression. Les is now taking that art form to places that Roger could never have imagined. As a result, One Link Between Them should appeal to several generations of music enthusiasts. Blast off - and prepare to enjoy the trip!
LES FRADKIN & GET WET:
"A DAY AT THE BEACH" (RRO-1003)
Once upon a time, instrumental rock music ruled the airwaves. Back in the early 1960's, songs like "Wipeout" and "Pipeline" were as well known in America as the hits the Beatles cranked out. Instrumental surf-rock is a uniquely American style of music. Created entirely within the surf culture of Southern California, surf-rock has become a genre that represents all sorts of extreme sports and lifestyles. Modern films such as Pulp Fiction have awakened new audiences to the joy of surf music, and new surf bands have been cropping up all over the world.
Get Wet, who are based in Colorado, are a surf-rock band built around the genius of guitarist Les Fradkin. Fradkin is a guitarist of the first order, and it's our good fortune that he decided to direct his talent to melodic instrumental music instead of the six-string masturbation that is common to modern area axe shredders. Make no mistake - Fradkin could show Joe Satriani or Eric Johnson a thing or two. But instead of dazzling us with how many notes he can play per second, Fradkin layers his songs with melodies that will have you humming hours after the CD has been turned off.
The album sets a fast and furious tempo with the title track, "A Day At the Beach." Hyper percussion and layered guitars combine to create the audio equivalent of a caffeine-charged large espresso. Pounding drums open "Kick Sand," but Fradkin smartly dials the volume back for the main melodic theme. The tempo is slowed a bit in "Pintor," which showcases some very stylish spaghetti-western style picking. "Key West Sunset" is a romantic sounding tune, perfect for an evening with a beautiful beach babe or dude. Sharp melodies and haunting dynamics make "Nature Calls" one of the album's highlights.
You might wonder why Get Wet decided to cover the classic Beach Boys tune, "Good Vibrations," but after hearing this version, you'll never care for the original. The Beach Boys were never a true surf band - they were more of a manufactured clean-cut version of the Beatles. Fradkin takes this tune and completely transforms it into an instrumental masterpiece.
Get ready for some real fun - after "Good Vibrations" fades from the speakers, a collaboration between Get Wet and their friends The Dirt Surfers ("The Dirt Surfers Get Wet (Wet Mix)") blasts forth like a nuclear explosion. If you can remain seated while listening to this tune, check your pulse. Do not miss this song - the gorgeous middle part alone is worth the price of this CD.
Other standout tracks include a solid cover of "Beck's Bolero," and "Hurricane Warning," which could have easily been the theme song for any recent television police drama. Just for fun, the album also includes a very memorable version of Bach's holiday classic, "Joy of Man's Desiring."
Instrumental rock doesn't get the attention it deserves these days. The recording industry, which once made stars of bands like the Ventures and artists like Dick Dale, hasn't got a clue about how to market this invigorating music. They don't understand that the melodies and driving rhythms may be enjoyed by anyone desiring high-energy rock and roll without angst-filled vocals and nasty lyrics. Whether you're cleaning your house, gardening, or heading out to hit the big waves, "A Day At the Beach" will get you moving. You can forget that large espresso, because this album will reach out, slap you across the face, and shout, "Wake Up!"
LES FRADKIN- "Strat Heaven"
""Les has got out there and grabbed some of today's brilliant indie themes for great instrumentals. In this light, listen to Mr. F. play the fab Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't A Scene (It's An Arms Race)" and All American Rejects' "Move Along" and recognize that good instrumental material and sources of it, didn't stop in 1963!" (Dav Peckett-New Gandy Dancer Magazine-Issue 87)"
LES FRADKIN & GET WET-
"A DAY AT THE BEACH" (RRO-1002)
This is the real thing- an absolutely joyous, stunning album which restores our faith that surf is way,way alive in the fingers of Les Fradkin. Album of the year without doubt!
LES FRADKIN-"PEPPER FRONT TO BACK" (RRO-1018)
It is hard to see how anyone who is both a Beatles admirer and a fan of guitar instrumentals could fail to be won over by this latest release from the Fradkin workshop. We have already had from him some material from the stellar ‘Abbey Road’ album, but it would be good to see a follow-up offering the entire set in true Come Together fashion!
LES FRADKIN - "PEPPER FRONT TO BACK" (RRO-1018)
You gotta have chutzpa to tackle what is often considered the all-time greatest album in rock. I mean, it's one thing to cover a Beatles song, but to take on the entire Sgt Pepper album ?! No problem for Les Fradkin. He has the credentials and the chops to pull it off, which is exactly what he does on Pepper Front to Back, and then some !
The man who portrayed George Harrison in the original Broadway cast of Beatlemania! and who already has two George Harrison tribute cd's under his belt confirms himself here as one of the great guitar players of our time. Actually he had already done so on previous albums, but this time he's taking things even further. With the entire album performed on guitar synthesizer, a first for a Beatles cover album, Les brings Pepper right into the 21st century.
So how does all that translate into music ? There's of course no need to introduce the songs. Like the title says : it's Pepper front to back and has All you need is love added as a bonus track.
What makes this album so amazing is that you can easily compare it with the original Beatles album and Les Fradkin still comes out smelling like a rose ! From the powerful opening of the first track to his own "inner groove" sounds, Les always puts his personal stamp on each track ! While still staying fairly loyal to the original song, each song is approached with a fresh new look. It makes each and every song a pleasure to listen to for very different reasons : the "horns" on Lovely Rita, the lead and harmony guitars on She's leaving home, the Joe Cocker touch on With a little help, the "animals" on Good Morning, the "horns and strings" on All you need is love... the album is filled with all kinds of gimmicks that'll make you want to listen to it over & over again!
This is an album that will absolutely thrill Beatles fans and everybody who's into guitar albums. Les has been putting out some amazing music over the past years and has been building a loyal fanbase with it. This is a perfect opportunity to discover this unique talent !
LES FRADKIN- "Guitar Revolution"
George from the original cast of Beatlemania has 11 more Beatles guitar instrumentals for ya. You will hear snippets of Jeff Beck, Jeff Lynne, the Ventures, the Fab Four and a host of other "classic rock" influences in Fradkin's interpretations of these Beatles and McCartney songs.
"Live And Let Die" is the standout track among the eleven songs that combine Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" with classic rock to surf treatments. Good for instro fans and parties.
LES FRADKIN-GUITAR REVOLUTION
Nobody covers the Beatles like Les Fradkin and if his own songs weren't that great, I'd say that's what he does best. His reconstruction of the entire Sgt Pepper album was nothing less than a revelation. And he continues in the same direction on Guitar Revolution.
In case you still haven't acquainted yourself with the music of Les Fradkin, this is as good a place to start as any. Les is all about guitars. Those in the know will drool over the equipment as it is listed on the inside cover. Those who listen to the music will file Les right next to Jeff Beck. The songs are a mere vehivle to display his amazing talents on the guitar. Although these are a bunch of the Beatles' best & well-known tracks, it almost doesn't matter as you always get caught up in the way Les treats them. I'll Be Back has that Ventures rhythm woven in, who would expect that solo piano on Within you Without you... I mean, there's something about each and every track that makes it stand out and why it's not "just" a cover of a Beatles song.
Once again two thumbs up for Les. WAY up !
"The past meets the present-with a 12 string chime", June 13, 2009
Les Fradkin's love of the Rickenbacker electric 12 string guitar is explored to the fullest on this collection of folk-rock classics and sparkling originals.
The Tracks-pt.1: the folk-rock covers;
Bob Dylan was a major player in not only pure folk music, but folk rock itself was invented when the Byrds covered "Mr. Tambourine Man".
His song "I Want You" gets Les' version of a Byrds arrangement, complete with finger picked 12 string, 3-part harmony, and Les' McGuinn-like lead vocal.
The Seekers' folk classic "I'll Never Find Another You" is transformed into an all-out electrified folk-rock tour-de-force, featuring multiple electric 12's, full bass and drums, layered vocal harmonies and a sincere lead vocal.
One of Les's very best performances.
Paul Simon is recognized with two compositions;
"The Dangling Conversation" is another simple acoustic number that Les transforms into a powerful electric folk ballad, while "A Hazy Shade Of Winter" captures the essence of the Simon & Garfunkel original vocally, while the musical hook is now electrified and the rock beat is more predominant. Kickin'...
The Tracks-pt.2: the Originals
"Arrow Through Your Heart" is much more of a straight pop song that shows off Les' 6-string chops.
"Why Is This Man Smiling?" & "Sometimes A Girl Must Carry On" sound much like mid-60's folk ballads, while the anthemic "Everything Is Gonna Be Alright" has the feel-good quality of "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Without the biblical verse.
Last, but definately not least, we come to the title cut; the autobiographical "Jangleholic".
This tale of Les' musical journey - and the influences that shaped it - is simply Les Fradkin's finest musical moment-ever.
The influences are all there; "A Hard Day's Night" & "If I Needed Someone" meets "Turn! Turn! Turn!" & "The Bells Of Rhymney", as Les layers lots of harmonies and multiple Rick-12 guitar passages for that 1960's feel with 21st century quality.
This song would be a sure-fire hit if the narrow - minded radio stations would care to play "real music" by "real performers".
Les Fradkin brings his past and his present together wonderfully. Jingle-jangle is not dead. Just ask Les Fradkin: Jangleholic.
LES FRADKIN-"Love You 2"
Beatlemania' original "George" plays early Beatles by "George", April 5, 2009
Les Fradkin was chosen from 2000 guitarists back in 1976 to play "George Harrison" in Beatlemania. Thirty years later, he re-visits the 1963-1966 songs of his mentor.
Les' forte intstrumentally is his usage of the Rickenbacker electric 12-String guitar, which permeates this collection with it's jingle-jangle sound.
Other than some help from other musicians on a few tracks, Les plays and sings just about everything on this album.
His producing and engineering skill are quite evident with the sonic balance of all vocals and instruments.
"Taxman" opens the album with some edge and Les' solo reminiscent of the original.
"If I Needed Someone" sparkles with clarity on both the vocals and the outstanding multi-tracked 12-string.
"You Know What To Do" is perhaps the standout track on the album, because Les took a "lost" song that never got past the demo stage and fleshed it out with nice harmonies and a rock-a-billy 12-string hook. Well done.
"I'm Happy Just To Dance With You", "I Want To Tell You", "Do You Want To Know A Secret" and "Think For Yourself" are spot-on covers of the originals.
If you had Les' arrangement and the Beatles' vocals combined for "I Need You", you would have had a monster hit.
"You Like Me Too Much" rearranges all the piano parts of the original into electric 12-string riffs-clever.
If there is a weak spot on this collection, it would be "Don't Bother Me". Les eschews the electric samba feel of the original for an acoustic arrangement that doesn't really fit the feel of the album, but is still mildly interesting.
The album wraps with the title cut "Love You To". Les' use of 12-string in place of sitar gives it an "east meets west feel.
All-in-all, Les' tribute to George Harrison does the music much more than simply justice- it's a labor of love.
I recommend it heartily. 5 Stars.
LES FRADKIN- "UNDER THE COVERS" (RRO-1011)
Fradkin delivers another winner in his ever-growing body of work. Fradkin knows his way around Byrds and 12 stringed Rickenbackers seeing as he was the original George Harrison in "Beatlemania" 30 years ago. As with all his CDs, this is endlessly catchy 12-String Jangle Pop with a distinctive "sonic signature." The influence of 60`s and 70`s Pop with big hooks, lush harmonies, commercial production and virtuoso Rickenbacker 12-String electric guitar. "Under The Covers" gives everyone a look at some of his newest music- drenched in hooks galore for fans of Beatles Pop and 70`s AM radio Pop. You`ll also get to hear brand new versions of his origional MGM/Sunflower single "Song Of A Thousand Voices" and "You Can Cry If You Want To" which has been a must have for 45RPM collectors for years. These songs have been unavailable for 35 years.
New songs this time out include "Under The Covers", an autobiographical followup to "Jangleholic." Other newies include his iTunes smash single- "Through The Looking Glass" and "Take A Chance" which are slices of 60`s & 70`s Pop ear candy with hooks galore. His latest tune, "I Cry" is co-written with Amber Gomez of Venus In Bluejeans, and will grab you every time you hear it. All with Les` famous Rickenbacker 12-String guitar stylings mixed with his "sonic signature" production stamp. Now check out the covers! "Reflections Of My Life" (The Marmalade), "Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again" (The Fortunes) "Montego Bay" (Bobby Bloom), And "I`d Love You To Want Me" (Lobo). And as a surprise bonus, Les sings his famous French Mireille Mathieu hit - in French! Arranged with a nod to the original Paul Mauriat ("Love Is Blue")arrangement in mind, Les brings his self-composed Mathieu classic into modern sound.
LES FRADKIN-"12" (RRO-1015)
"12" is Les Fradkin's 12th album and except for one song is every bit as good as Les has done so far. Some Byrds, some Dylan, a few originals...they make an excellent mixture on which Les excells. Jumping out from the batch of guest musicians are Buddy Cage on pedal steel and ex-Manassas keyboardist Paul Harris.
But the real treat here is the song I made exception for earlier on : Alone Again Or ! This is obviously a cover version of the opening track on Love's Forever Changes. I'm a big fan of the Love original, but this one's right up there as well ! For me this track alone is worth the price of admission.
Fans of Les will no doubt enjoy the entire album, but everybody else should at least own Alone Again Or and since it's available as an individual download...what's the problem ? ;)
LES FRADKIN-"12" (RRO-1015) Do you love jangly music? Do your ears perk up at the distinctive sound of a chiming Rickenbacker 12-string guitar? If so, don't hesitate to snap up a copy of Les Fradkin's twelfth solo disc - appropriately titled 12. As with past albums, Les is pictured on the cover with his Rickenbacker 360v64 (the model that was designed for George Harrison) 12-string guitar and Les showcases both his crisp pop-rock 12-string sound and his sonic production techniques on the nine tracks.
Three of the tracks are original (two are co-writes), and the rest of the songs are a parade of tunes that Boomer music fans should be quite familiar with. Highlights include Les' versions of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Eight Miles High"- recorded for the download-only four volume Byrds tribute set, Timeless Flyte (produced by Fradkin and released on his RRO Entertainment label), and available here for the first time on CD. Les' rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man sounds like he was studying every instrumental nuance in the studio when the Fab Five recorded this track in 1965.
Les captures the sound of the Byrds again on his brilliant folk-rock version of "Four Strong Winds" by Ian Tyson. Les gives his own stamp to the McGuinn-Clark-Crosby classic "Eight Miles High", the traditional "I Know You Rider", Arthur Lee and Love's "Alone Again Or" and Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna-Fall." I have said this before but it bears repeating: Roger McGuinn's 12-string guitar style helped to pioneer the folk-rock sound of the 60s, and Les Fradkin nimitable 12-string guitar style is a leading force in the contemporary pop-rock scene that is keeping that chiming sound alive and vibrant. Hence, 12 is an album that should appeal to pop fans young and old. http://cdbaby.com/cd/lesfradkin14
LES FRADKIN-"12" (RRO-1015)
So one day I’m wondering who besides me likes playing Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitars and I stumble upon Mr Les Fradkin who is based in Parker, Colorado. Having imported this album have to say first off that this guy knows exactly how to get a clear ringing sound out of a Rick AND he plays many other instruments. Co-produced by Loretta Fradkin, this album is the sound of someone totally in love with the West Coast guitar sound and folk-song vibe. Across these 9 cuts, Fradkin delivers a tuneful, twinkling, chiming set of songs all sounding precise and at times on the edge of frantic.
There is an endemic problem in doing versions, as any objective musician will tell you. I have long come around to the view that overall it’s best NOT to do songs you LOVE, but rather tunes you think you can do something with. Here the take on Love’s sublime ‘Alone Again Or’ is fantastically paced and presented, brings out every ounce of the song’s aching despair – but it’s more a recreation than a version, as such. Same with ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and maybe nobody could play it ‘right’ better than Les.
But it’s with the lesser known songs and own creations that Fradkin really hits home. ‘Lay Down Your Arms’ has a sincere push and twanging hypnotic feel that makes you nod with approval. ‘Down On My Luck’ might be the best contemporary folkrock musing that anyone has come up with in recent years, it’s in the John Stewart/ John Prine league, kid you not. Marry this to the dextrous and well-placed guitar line decoration and you have a fine listen indeed.
A man with his heart on his sleeve and hopefully more originals to weave his guitar spells with ; a quality performer I greatly respect.
Well, Fradkin had me at "Jangle". Any album with a title like "Jangleholic" is going to nab a lot of Not Lamers out of the gate, the only question is does the music live up to the hope. Well, listen below and smile is the answer. Fradkin knows his way around Byrds and 12 stringed Rickenbackers seeing as he was the original George Harrison in "Beatlemania" 30 years ago. "Jangleholic" is endlessly catchy 12-String Jangle Pop with a distinctive "sonic signature." The influence of 60`s and 70`s Pop with big hooks, lush harmonies, commercial production and virtuoso Rickenbacker 12-String electric guitar. On this release, Fradkin mixes his originals and offers up a great selection of Jangle covers from songs that influenced him as a 12-string guitarist: "I Want You" ( Bob Dylan ), "You Were On My Mind" ( by The We Five ), "I`ll Never Find Another You" ( by The Seekers ) and TWO Paul Simon songs from the Simon & Garfunkel Songbook- "A Hazy Shade Of Winter" and his electrfying cover of "The Dangling Conversation."
Jangle fans are going to freak and rejoice and for you, fans of the Rick, there`s little doubt of this being Extremely Highly Recommended!