|All Artists: Daryl Stuermer|
Title: Steppin' Out
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Grp Records
Release Date: 10/25/1990
Genres: Jazz, Rock
Style: Jazz Fusion
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 011105957311, 011105957328, 011105957342
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A Good Example of Not Judging a Book by its Cover...
Robert Greiveldinger | Milwaukee, WI, USA | 10/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...and by that I mean that after not having listened to this cd in years, a co-worker of mine, who knows I'm a long-time Stuermer fan, emailed me a link to a website of the worst and cheesiest album cover art of all time - and "Steppin' Out" made the list. Not surprising really, as we are talking about the 1980's here; a much maligned decade for music (a statement which I sometimes agree with, but then later I hear the Smiths, R.E.M. on IRS or the Stone Roses debut and think, nah) and also of fashion (which I always agree with - you should see my high school yearbook from that era..then again maybe you shouldn't!) It was Daryl's fast-fashion fro, b&w leopard-print shirt and Japanese 'Kansai Police' jacket combo that made me hide this case and cd in my sister's bedroom closet for many a year.
Anyway, when Daryl Stuermer released this debut album in 1988, he had, within the 3 years prior, finished work on Phil Collin's 3rd lp, 'No Jacket Required', which went on to eventually sell 10 million (recording industry Diamond Status) copies, as well play live with Genesis supporting their 'Invisible Touch' album, which was their biggest selling arena tour to date. This being his 1980's career peak, GRP Records figured they would take a chance on releasing Daryl's debut in hopes of capitalizing on all of the music interest associated with his Genesis and Phil Collin's work.
The all-instrumental "Steppin' Out" was written entirely by Daryl, and features him on electric guitar backed by a three-piece band on drums, electric bass and keyboards. It includes a version of "I Don't Wanna Know" to which Phil Collins would add lyrics and turn into an fm radio hit. And although this track is the obvious starting point when listening to the album, it is only one of several excellently written and performed cuts on the cd in which Daryl not only shows his superior electric guitar skills, but also his strength as a melodic songwriter who can incorporate his playing into the song, instead of the somewhat more conventional tack of many guitarist / songwriters whose songs are simply an excuse for yet another guitar solo.
The album kicks-off with `Kyoto Rose', a mid-tempo tune which starts out slowly and deliberately but builds to a tight and well-constructed solo mid-way. Like on other tracks, Daryl solos over his own playing, before Kyoto Rose fades out in the end with the same deliberation with which it began.
`Anthem' is a gloriously written track, which also starts out unassumingly but melodically, and continues to build and build to its `anthemic' conclusion. Sounding influenced by the drama long-associated with the music of Genesis, `Anthem' makes a powerful statement, and is one of the strongest pieces on the disk.
Other tracks, including "Electric City", "Venturing Out" and "20th Century Lady" all feature fusion-style instrumentation combined with powerful guitar work, similar in some ways to Daryl's playing on Jean Luc Ponty's albums from the mid-to-late 70's. "Night Flyer" is another dramatic cut, this time featuring keyboards as the main instrument for the first half of the song, building tension until bursting into an angry guitar solo - this is a darker track worthy of its title and one of the best cuts on the second-half of the cd.
The album closes with `The Highlands", an almost danceable Scottish-tinged jig in 6/8 time. There is a strong counter-point to the main riff, and if Phil had written lyrics to this track, it would have been another hit for him.
That said, "Steppin' Out" was not the success GRP had hoped for and Daryl was not invited to release a follow-up on the label. The criticism at the time was that the lp was overly aggressive in its playing, and was not in keeping with the softer GRP sound, which at the time included David Benoit, George Benson, Mindy Abair and Earl Klugh on its roster. Since the end of the 80's, "Steppin' Out", like many releases during that decade, has suffered from the reality of dated production, especially on the keyboards and drum sounds.
That said, "Steppin' Out" has some of the finest guitar work I've ever heard on an instrumental solo recording of jazz-rock fusion. Daryl's ability to make his guitar SING is so impressive and beautiful, especially considering his being a relatively under-rated player on the rock-guitar scene. His ability to communicate such drama and passion has rarely been met on his subsequent recordings, and only his 2007 collection `Go', comes close to the drama and melodic playing seen on this collection.
So, if you can get past the cheesy and dated album cover and artwork, "Steppin' Out" will give you an excellent example of strong songwriting and masterful electric-guitar playing.
Daryl Steps Out!
Robert L. Murt | New Jersey | 07/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For me, this is Daryls best album. Full of some the best guitar work you will ever hear. Fine production values and a real mood setter. If you are looking for Daryl's best CD, then start here."