This isn't just a 2-CD set of some unbelievable guitar work from a long-esteemed player of truly formidable skill but rather a treasury that proves beyond doubt that Melvin Taylor needs to be placed within the museum of the guitar greats: Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Chet Atkins, Frank Zappa, Earl Klugh, Jim Hall, Leo Kottke, Robert Fripp, Grant Green, Pat Metheny…all of 'em, regardless of style and genre. And he not only plays all the many layers of various guitars here but bass as well in a nominally foursome format. Quite a few overdubs crop up, all of which will blow you away, but the other musicians are Bernell Anderson on keyboards and Señor Jefe on drums (a pseudonym?, means 'Mr. Chief' in English……and, hmmmm……y'know, at times, like in The Hook Up, I very strongly suspect a drum machine—either that or El Jefe's exceedingly precise).
The initial cut alone, Dueling Guitars of Rio Terra, is daunting. Taylor at first achieves a clipped DiMeola-esque attack that makes his axe seem to be a cross between guitar and banjo, then, after a number of very subtle declensions and abstractions, comes off in Sonny Sharrockian fashion, crowding notes up for offbeat contrasts…within a basically flamenco side trip evolving beneath the cut's speedy but modern trad atmosphere within shifting structures. From there, no territory is safe, and Taylor tears into them all sooner or later. In prime, though, this is Blue Note and CTI taken into the stratosphere, to jazz what Satriani and Vai are to fusion riffrock.
Approach Beyond the Burning Guitar from any angle you want, you won't be disappointed. It's a guitarist's guitar album and a sophisticated listener's dream, non-stop brilliance and inhumanly executed chops, whether in the ultra-clean Earl Klugh idiom or finger-mangling chopsfest rock mode. Be sure to put a nice soft cushion on the floor 'cause your jaw's going to be hitting it a lot, and Taylor doesn't need lawsuits arising from thoracomandibular problems in stunned audiences. It's probably impossible to listen to the entire repertoire without having your head explode, so be careful, that's all I'm saying. And here's the O. Henry part: the guy's completely self-taught. Unfuckingreal!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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