At this point we shouldn't have to mention that Tracy G is one our good friends, which may imply a bias in our review. But give a listen to his band's latest release, Tramp, and try to tell us we're wrong about it. The man has been steadily putting out music for years, collaborating with like-minded individuals with whom he feels a strong musical connection and the results speak for themselves.
Firstly, I have to give props to vocalist Michael Beatty whose cultivated hard rock chops belie his rough, biker bar bouncer look. What I'm saying is there's a momentary disconnect when you hear the vocals on, say, Fireball and picture a 20-something, shirtless, 80s hair metal band lead singer type, and then you see the guy on camera in the Leech video. In any case, this guy sings his ass off and he's perfect for Tracy G's dirty guitar sound. His vocals are a satisfying mix of Bruce Dickinson's authoritative bellow and Ozzy's serpentine serenade. Great choice.
The tunes themselves are classic examples of the G Man's penchant for somewhat unusual riff-based music; you think the melody is gonna zig and he zags every time, leaving you with something much more than just another metal song. And while The Tracy G Group doesn't necesarily always make you bang your head - Tracy loves a good, slow, bottom-heavy riff like The Revolution's mighty chorus - it will definitely rock the shit out of you with serious grooves. One of the standout jams is Leech, with an aggressive riff that's reminiscient of Tracy's time with Ronnie James Dio circa Angry Machines. And dig that System Of A Down style break before the solo. Instrumental fans - and those who may question Tracy's range - will surely dig tracks like P.C.H., a tasty driving groove over which he dives and wails in a shreddy, spiritual homage to [one of his idols] Jeff Beck's Freeway Jam, and The California Country Jamboree Funkfest, a nearly 6-minute jam that starts out like a classic Iron Maiden historical epic that suddenly kicks into a sweet riff that calls to mind the effortless fluidity of Blues Saraceno or Buck Dharma. Two thirds of the way in to that track there's some really great funk rhythm action that showcases Tracy's ability to pull out an unexpected style (including some banjo-style licks) and make it seem totally organic to the song. I'm telling you he's got the goods.
The Bottom Line: Fans of Tracy G know what to expect from his latest album, but if you're new to his solo work you're in for a treat. He's simply one of the most criminally underrated artists consistently putting out original, guitar-based music that deftly blends old and new school techniques. 'Nuff said!
- Genghis would love to see the G-Man play live in a small club some day...