Saturday, December 14, 2013

Philip Sayce - Steamroller

If you love modern hard rock electric blues guitar at sometime in your life you have or will debate the question - who is the best electric bluesrock guitar player?  It is a sophistic, but fun, pursuit. Try it with like-minded friends.  Names sure to pop up are Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman, Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eddie Van Halen and B.B. King.  A saavy connoisseur of blues rock might suggest Gary Moore, Warren Haynes, Elmore James, Johnny Winters, Derek Trucks, Randy Rhoads, Joe Bonamassa, Johnny Lang or Kenny Wayne Shepherd.  One with truly extensive knowledge of guitar and blues might offer Eric Gales, Coco Montoya, Ronnie Earl, Walter Trout, Hound Dog Taylor or Earl Hooker.  However, one name you are unlikely to hear, but one you really should, is Philip Sayce.  My evidence - his LP Steamroller.

Welsh-born Sayce moved to Toronto when he was two years old. His parents, avid blues rock fans, exposed him to the music of Hendrix, Beck, Clapton, as well as their contemporaries and their influences.   At 16 years old Sayce started playing guitar at Toronto clubs and, shortly thereafter, was asked to join the Jeff Healey Band. Sayce toured with Healey for four years and appeared on the band's releases Get Me Some and Live At Montreux.  He then moved to Los Angeles and joined Uncle Kracker.  His guitar playing appears on Uncle Kracker's hit album No Stranger To Shame. After leaving Uncle Kracker, Sayce teamed with Melissa Etheridge.  He appears on four of her albums and on several of her live concert DVD's.  Then, Sayce decided to do his own thing.

Steamroller is Sayce's fourth solo LP effort and IMHO establishes Sayce as a modern blues rock great.  Its twelve tracks exhibit a mastery of electric blues guitar, a knack for writing memorable lyrics and hooks, and a penchant for mesmerizing an audience.   Some tunes, such as the title song "Steamroller" and "Aberystwyth," are hard rocking, no doubt Hendrix-inspired, originals that exhibit the type of feedback control that only a true electric guitar bluesmaster can accomplish.  Other tracks offer perfect slow and gritty blues, bends, licks and wails.  Sayce caps it with a soulful voice perfect for hard-edged, modern electric guitar-driven bluesrock.

Many others seem to agree with me. commented, "Sayce may be one of the best blues guitar heroes flying under the radar."  The U.K.'s Sheffield Star said, "The release of Steamroller has animated Sayce, recognized as one of the best live guitarists on the planet."  Finally, this quote from Jon Bon Jovi, "Who the fuck is that guitar player?  Pretty amazing Philip."

There you have it.  Sayce is a guitar god and Steamroller is one hell of a modern bluesrock release.  Listen to it. Afterward, when someone asks you who you think is today's best electric blues rock guitarist you just might say Sayce.

- Old School

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