Recommendation: Vibrato (album) by Paul Gilbert

“I’ve been using vibrato since I was a kid
I didn’t use it this time imagine if I did
It can lift a big wave and it’s so pow-er-full
Everybody just listenin’ to my vi-bra-to…”

I’ve shared some Paul Gilbert on social media before. Brief history: in the early 90s he was a guitar prodigy from a genre of music that history has forgotten — sub Guns & Roses bands with sub Steve Vai guitarists. That’s me being snobby about it, but it was a very manufactured period of rock, and there were a lot of bands that probably had a lot of talent that were almost certainly shaped by cynical record companies into a carbon copy of whatever the last big-selling band was.

Here is a clip of our hero, playing guitar in the band Mr Big (in a video clearly inspired by Extreme’s massive hit More Than Words):

They were just coming up as the bubble started to burst, but this song came out in the same year as Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana broke, and after… well, yeah.

But teenaged guitar devotees like me also knew Paul Gilbert from his guitar magazine columns, in which he was likeable, knowledgable and very funny.

And on a whim a few months ago I thought I’d look up and see what he was up to. Was he still making that super-widdly guitar music?

Answer: yes and no. The pyrotechnical guitar playing was still there, as was some of the innovation that he showed as a youngster. But now he had some cracking songs that had a really good easygoing feel to them. Enemies (In Jail) above is a good example (a sweet song about how the true meaning of happiness is walking down the street, knowing that all of your enemies are in jail).

And that made me strangely happy. First of all, he hadn’t given up music and gone into real estate or something. Neither was he in some super-hip genre, in embarrassed denial about his Big Hair past. Instead, he was doing what he had always done, but better, tighter, more mature. He was taking guitar playing seriously (and still very involved in teaching), but had lost none of his sense of humour. And, unlike so many people in the music industry, he seemed to be doing what the fuck he wanted, and having a blast while doing it.

Current Favourite Track:
So here it is, the title track, which is my favourite, and a track that I have been playing on loop for many months now:

(Also available in Live Version flavour:)

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