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Gordon Giltrap - Live At Oxford CD (album) cover

LIVE AT OXFORD

Gordon Giltrap

 

Prog Related

4.00 | 4 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars A live performance for essentially a solo guitarist always raises the question of faithful sound reproduction. For instance, GORDON GILTRAP plays both electric and acoustic guitar very well. Does he go with an additional guitarist to complement or at least not cramp his style? What of other instrumentation like sax which he occasionally hires? Should vocals be introduced for variety? On "Live at Oxford" GILTRAP makes several brilliant choices - hiring a competent backing rock band, continuing to play all guitars himself, engaging a female vocalist, and utilizing keyboards and vocals to fill some of the additional guitar and brass sounds. How he implements these decisions results in a show and a resulting album that plays to his strengths while rendering his shortcomings moot.

In some sense this virtuoso's work is best suited to the live setting, since his primary talent is in playing and, to some extent, arranging, as opposed to composition. Luckily his skill is exposed in a measured fashion throughout. The main source of material is "Fear of the Dark", the most recent album at the time of the concert, and it would be hard to imagine that those tracks represented here are not more fully realized than the studio versions. This is especially the case for the epic "Visitation" and the suspenseful "Fear of the Dark", both of which benefit from the sultry expressive vocals of SHIRLEY RODEN. Still, the best example of this adaptive spirit and of Roden's power is in "The Deserter"; originally an instrumental on "Perilous Journey", it is re-invented as a spacey lyrical piece with Roden's vocals replacing sax and some pointed guitar leads. I had never heard of Roden so has to look her up, and found that her limited credits include several prog artists including MICHAEL MOORCOCK, MIKE OLDFIELD and DAVID GILMOUR.

As is standard for Giltrap, none of the material or the performances are weak but here the energy of the live setting and the commitment to the team concept contribute equally to what could be the most suitable introduction to Gitrap for prog fans. I have not heard the prior three albums in their entirety but "Live at Oxford" seems to be cut from a different cloth.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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