Leslie West – Unusual Suspects

They Say :- Legendary guitarist and Mountain founder Leslie West will release a brand new solo album entitled Unusual Suspects on Monday September 19th 2011. The album is his first since 2006’s Blue Me.
Released by Provogue Records, the album, Unusual Suspects features West alongside a hand-picked line-up of the finest guitar players alive today including Slash, blues-rock guitar superstar Joe Bonamassa, Black Label Society front man and ex-Ozzy guitarist Zakk Wylde, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Toto’s Steve Lukather.
“These guys don’t just show up to play on everybody’s albums,” says West on his special guests and the album’s title.  “They’re all stars in their own right, and fantastic players — everyone with their own sound and style, about as far from ‘the usual suspects’ as it gets.”

We Say :- Unusual Suspects is the latest offering from legendary Mountain guitarist Leslie West, and it will be released in the UK on September 19th on Mascot Records. As if Leslie himself wasn’t enough of musician to make this album work he decided to draft in a few other musicians to give him a hand. These musicians will possibly be known to a few of you that are reading this so I’ll throw some names out and see if there’s anyone you recognise….

How about Toto singer/guitarist and legendary session musician Steve Lukather, or maybe you’ve heard of Slash, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde and Joe Bonamassa? Now, usually when you get a lot of great musicians on a record one of two things happens. Either the album is nothing but a clash of egos that doesn’t work on any level, or you get an album of such quality it leaves you feeling completely dumbfounded. Thankfully this album falls into the latter category. It just exudes quality from the very beginning.

Of course this is much more than just another ‘blues’ album and it shows off Leslie’s song writing abilities. Each of the songs on the album has been arranged with the guest musician in mind, which gives them another dimension. Leslie’s vocal style is soulful with a good bit of gravel thrown in for good measure, which is perfectly suited to every song on this album. Ranging from emotional soul on the ballads, to rocking out with the best of them, and of course pure blues. Make no mistake, this album has something for everyone.

Also on this album are a couple of cover versions. One of these Leslie has cut before, Willie Dixon’s ‘Third Degree’ which guest musician Joe Bonamassa was so impressed with first time around, he asked Leslie if he’d do it again and let him play on it. Joe also adds some vocals too, and his unmistakeable guitar tone, compliments Leslie’s beautifully. The other is a take on Willie Nelson’s ‘Turn Out The Lights’ where Slash and Zakk Wylde join in both acoustically and electrically, and nothing I say about it from here on in will do it any justice. Is it good? Well no, it’s far better than good, but then you probably guessed that. Another very interesting cover is Leslie’s interpretation of The Beatles ‘I Feel Fine’ which he’s rocked the shit out of, while staying true to the original. You’ll have to listen to it for yourself to see just how great it is.

With so many guest musicians on the album, it would be very easy for Leslie to allow himself to be influenced by them, and to some extent that’s true. The song ‘Standing On Higher Ground’ was brought into the studio by Billy Gibbons and Leslie helped finish it off, along with producer Fabrizio Grossi. Throughout the album though the style that dominates is all Leslie’s and all of the other guests compliment the overall sound, rather than compete with it.

Basically what we have here, is a meeting of some of the greatest musicians around at this very moment in time, and producing something so musically beautiful it should be illegal. Don’t take my word for it though, go out and buy it. I’ve listened to it several times, and it still leaves me feeling awestruck. Buy it, put it in your music system, and crank it to 11 and you’ll see exactly what I mean.