Paul Gilbert – Behold Electric Guitar (Mascot Label Group)

When he’s not being the main man in Mr Big, a certain Paul Gilbert can often be found stretching the boundaries of multi-genre musicianship to its limits. And this rocky, poppy, bluesy, jazzed-up fusion of six-string spontaneity suggests all that twiddling is time well spent.

Interestingly, given producer Jon Cuniberti’s involvement in a spellbinding project, there’s more than a hint of that classic Joe Satriani tone on many of the rockier tracks here. Love Is The Saddest Thing, replete with Hammond-style keys and a slide-guitar interlude, is a compelling case in point. It’s very much signature Gilbert but the supremely talented Satch is a key influencer.

In 2019 it’s difficult to imagine how any six stringer, however experienced or gifted, can eke anything new out of the electric guitar. But Gilbert can. And as a perfectly apt album title suggests, this is an uplifting celebration of an instrument that, in the right hands, continues to surprise and thrill in equal measure.

Despite its instrumental roots Behold Electric Guitar isn’t even a grower. Like Satriani’s career-defining Surfing…(yes, this album is that good) its appeal is instant and almost before the first rotation is finished there’s a temptation to go back and put the likes of Havin’ It, Sir You Need To Calm Down and A Herd Of Turtles (that voiceover?!!) on constant repeat. But resist – this is a record best enjoyed in its entirety, from start to finish.

And yes, there are some frankly ridiculous song titles. But when you don’t need to worry about lyrics, it’s easy enough to label your latest composition A Snake Just Bit My Toe or Love Your Lawnmower. They’re just words, after all. And this is all about the music.

That there’s so much of it – and so much quality to boot – is an absolute treat. Gilbert is a guitar god to Mr Big fans the world over but, if the truth be told, his solo work is on an altogether more enlightened level.

Behold Electric Guitar might just be the most brilliant instrumental record you hear all year.

Main Image By John Burrows