He takes on vocal duties in the opening song, “Whenever I See You” and like the rest of the EP, his guitar work is on point, getting bluesy all over the place, each riff exquisite and choice. The song I loved the most was his take on Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing”, the mammoth track from the Shaft soundtrack. Taylor takes his version within the five minute limit but his approach shows how alive the song is, and how vivid Hayes was in his composition. Overall, a nice item from Taylor.
There are guitarists who get busy, and then there are guitarists who GET BUSY. Then you have Melvin Taylor, who does both and then does his own thing. Beyond The Burning Guitar was originally released in 2010 but I believe it’s getting a bit of a promotional push this year. This double CD has liner notes which state that he is “one of the greatest guitarists in the history of jazz, blues, and rock”. He may not be in the forefront, and if you haven’t heard of his work, try this album first.
I think the title almost says it all, as the opening track is a wicked duet between… himself. “Dueling Guitars Of Rio Terra” will make guitar enthusiasts listen to this intently and perhaps at half speed. Then he starts to explore his Chicago roots with a bit of blues, jazz, and even some songs for the steppers. His guitar work his sharp, reserved when it needs to be but a brutal jazz punch when the time is right. My only complain is the electronic backing. While the drums are credited to a Senor Jefe, it sounds like a drum machine, and it’s hard to say if that’s a good or bad thing. Taylor also plays the bass, and as for the keyboards, it just sounds a bit lackluster, unlike the guitar work. I do like the fact Taylor incorporates multi-tracking not only to go back and forth with his guitar and bass work, but also do create a bit of guitar mayhem. I would love to hear him do that more, but with a proper band, be it a trio, quartet, or even a big band. This guy is a killer, most of the songs here are Taylor originals but the electronic backing at times gets a bit tedious. If you can bypass that and just listen to his guitar and bass work, Beyond The Burning Guitar is an okay recording. In order for him to go truly beyond, I want to hear him with some musicians where they can to beyond, and then further.