"CGT's "Rocks the West" is not a rock album but an innovative smorgasbord of classical (Beethoven's Symphony #9), rock (Bohemian Rhapsody and Mirsirlou), country/southern/Spanish (Caravan) and jazzy/experimental (most of the rest of the album). Two of my favorites are Bohemian Rhapsody and Misirlou. Bohemian Rhapsody is true to the melody the Queen version, but really highlights its compositional brilliance as it branches into complimentary guitar pieces and great bass-lines. Misirlou is a fast-paced old Ventures tune that rocks without losing any intricate guitar work. The cut after Misirlou is Rokudan, which abruptly changes the mood into a simple, hauntingly beautiful Japanese-sounding tune. Unfortunately it's less than 2 minutes long! I also like the new-agey meditative Puntra Patri, although they speed it up too much near the end. Most of the cuts work for me, but some sound weird and experimental. I usually skip past Blue-eyed Monkey because it sounds like creaking doors in a haunted house, although the cheering fans on the album apparently disagree with my assessment. Likewise, the percussion solo in Caravan is certainly innovative, but "squeaky" and not well mixed. My other grumble is that some songs mix too many different styles and techniques. Pictures at an Exhibition, for example, sounds like a talented but confusing combination of Beethoven, jazz fusion, the Ventures, and a church hymn! The abrupt change of styles within and between songs can be a bit disconcerting. However, every cut has excellent studio-quality sound, even though this is a live album recorded at various venues. CGT is not only about talented guitar work, but amazing guitar tone. Just as a good golfer selects the right club to play each hole, CGT selects high-end fabulous sounding guitars that fit perfectly with each song. Despite my grumbles, this cd is worth a spin to hear these skilled, versatile musicians and high-end guitars."
LIVE is best!
bensmomma | Ann Arbor, Michigan | 01/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never heard of this group before last night the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. There was one group there that completely COMPLETELY brought down the house, the California Guitar Trio. Three guys with guitars playing instrumental music that was a combination of classical, rock, and....SURF. But get this...they played the ENTIRE back end of the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th...on three guitars....including the bit at the end where it goes to warp speed and there is an entire chorus on stage. (It's on this album too.)It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen live, because once the audience recognized what CGT were going to do, and yet couldn't imagine how it could be done, they got completely breathless in anticipation. When they hit those last notes the crowd stood up and cheered, 1500 people. In a folk music concert!I immediately acquired this album to try to re-live this experience. On listening I miss the thrill that came from the live performance, but enjoyed it regardless. When you listen, close your eyes and concentrate. It's not just some studio trick, it's just three cool guys playing amazing guitar. LIVE!"
Rocks my Stereo
Luis C. Diaz | Mason, Ohio | 01/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"CGT is an amazing trio of innovative guitar players that come from or are inspired by the Robert Fripp school of guitarrist. These live interpretations stand as a great overview of both their work and the ability to transform different styles and other's work into the trio's musical style. The three guitar arregements are clever and sometimes so good that it's almost scary. A fine example if Queen's Bohemian Rapsody... It truly blew me away the first time I hear it through my stereo. The trio is also augmented by Tony Levin (another King Crimson member with Fripp) and this provides the needed bass sound to make the trio's sound more complete.This is a band and album for those looking for challeging music in both intelectually and performance wise."
Rocks the West definitely rocks
Elaine C. Erb | Niwot, CO USA | 06/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The California Guitar Trio honed their skills under the tutelage of Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft. Moving beyond his lessons, they have incorporated their own interests in surf, classical, and original music to bring a unique blend to this CD. Live performances by the Trio bring more life to their playing and find enthusiastic audiences reacting to the joy and precision that the Trio bring to the stage. Adding to the attraction of this CD are appearances by sax player Bill Janssen (who played on Adrian Belew's early albums) and bass player Tony Levin. I recommend this as a great introduction to the CGT."
P. G. Moylan | Denver Co | 02/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had heard of these guys for quite a few years but just never bought anything. On a whim purchased this partly because of Tony Levin. Just the first 30 seconds made me think, 'Oh my God this is gonna be good.'And it is. I've purchased everything the've made, have seen them 3 times and am just in awe seeing and hearing them live. Buy this"