by Alissa Ordabai
Staff Writer –
A four-decade career has seen the East Coast guitar vet Don Mancuso lend his A-grade chops to a plethora of rock luminaries – from Lou Gramm (who in mid-70s has been Mancuso’s bandmate in Back Sheep before defecting to Foreigner), to most recently the likes of Ian Gillan and Dan McCafferty. Mancuso’s band Cheater had success with a 10-inch EP Ten Cent Love Affair in 1981, and he is currently playing in The Lou Gramm Band, while also releasing solo records.
Mancuso’s latest solo offering is a 6-track EP of elegant blues-rock, reggae, and melodic rock instrumental workouts. It’s a pleasant, decorous listening throughout – a collection of familiar earth-bound blues grooves, lofty guitar leads, eerie Delta slide guitar, and solid, tasteful rock chops. While never overplaying, Mancuso demonstrates how unfussy self-assurance and time-honed feel for the instrument can uphold the timeless conventions without intimidating the audience.
As for the songwriting, there is some – embryos of great melodies and some nice grooves, which on this release come through more as sketches, or ideas which perhaps didn’t find their way onto other records. That is not to say that they wouldn’t really start projecting once given something for the listener to hang on to – either tangible hooks or fully thought-through compositional structures.
Genre: Blues Rock, Melodic Rock, Reggae
Don Mancuso – guitars, bass
Mark Shulman – drums
AD Zimmer – bass (4)
Steve Major – guitars, loops, assorted instruments (5)
Bob Bond – drums (6)
Dave Quick – bass (6)
2. Green Day Reggae
4. Bugs Bite
6. Breaking Caylee
Label: Melodic Revolution Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 6/10