Never one to favor flash over substance, Andy Summers may very well be the most underrated guitarist of the rock era. Summers took a minimalist approach with his work for the juggernaut pop-alternative trio known as The Police, letting atmospherics and not pyrotechnics fuel such indelible hits as “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “Every Breath You Take.” His echoing, chorused, chordal-centric technique schooled a generation of players from U2’s The Edge to The Fixx’s Jamie West-Oram. Even a player as accomplished as Rush’s Alex Lifeson added a Summersesque “less is more” dimension to his repertoire during the ’80s.
BLACK IS BLACK. True, but you won't believe how deep it goes on the high-def reissues of U2's 1988 concert pic Rattle and Hum (Paramount; Movie •••••; Blu-ray Disc Picture ••••, Sound ••••; HD DVD Picture ••••, Sound ••••½; Original Extras ½, New Extras: None).
The first time I heard Everyday, I thought it was terrible, a train wreck of Led Zeppelin, fusion, and grunge. The material seemed contrived, formless, and prickly. And then I kept listening, adapted to it, and rather grew to like it.
A trembling flute figure drifts into the air and hangs there, sensuously falling and rising. It's one of the most celebrated moments in orchestral music, and the free, blissful, agile development that follows does not disappoint. Nor does Telarc's multichannel recording of this sumptuous work.
Brothers in Arms was a monster seller of the 1980s and yielded Dire Straits' MTV anthem, "Money for Nothing." Beyond the pop successes, the band's music was coveted by audiophiles for its sweet sound; back in the day, I wore out countless Brothers in Arms LPs at my job selling high-end audio gear. Reconnecting with the music in this new 20th Anniversary Edition, remastered to DualDisc, was a total pleasure.
Eric Clapton was at the crossroads of Personal Hell Avenue and Professional Conundrum Street as the calendar turned to 1974. His crippling heroin addiction derailed the creative momentum he achieved with Derek and the Dominos and Layla in 1970, and it took him a few long, painful years to emerge from the haze and return to chasing down his one true muse with guitar (and not needle) in hand. The jam-packed Give Me Strength: The ’74/’75 Recordings box set charts his sonic recovery.