VARIOUS ARTISTS - "WARMTH IN THE WILDERNESS II" (JASON BECKER TRIBUTE) (LION MUSIC)
I recently read about a second "Warmth in the Wilderness" tribute to sadly afflicted guitar prodigy Jason Becker. Needless to say, I got it right away. The double CD consists of a variety of tracks, some original, some from Jason solo or Cacophony or David Lee Roth. Below you will find the usual track-by-track lowdown on this double CD, of which the proceeds will go to Jason.
Tommy Denander and Friends: Desert Island: The thing that is most intact from the original is the bad singer. The guitars have been greatly simplified, except for the mid section guitar solo. Unfortunately, this is a wrecked by the sterility of a drum computer.
Lars Eric Mattsson - "Colors": An OK track, though to me sometimes it sounds that he's using the wrong scales to solo over chord progressions.
Steve Vai - "Feathers": Another bit of proof that Steve Vai can write very sensitive tracks (as if the fans needed that proof). Beautiful track, with some intense guitar work near the end.
Terry Syrek - "Temple of the Absurd". This track already appeared on the Japanese (3-CD) version of the first "Warmth in the Wilderness" tribute CD. I was glad to discover that not all of the tracks appearing on that third CD appeared on this new tribute, or else I would have been miffed for having shelled out a lot of dough for that version...
Marty Friedman and Melle Vasquez - "The Brightest Star of All": I knew Marty is no longer doing the heavy, crazy shit he used to, but still I had to get used to this. It's a vocal track, quite interesting, with Marty Friedman quite different from his usual work.
David Valdes - "Temple in the Cellar": Very like Jason Becker, hence the title. Quite good stuff, David Valdes is excellent.
Randy Coven - "Poem". A very bass-heavy tune, which stands to reason what with Randy Coven being a bass player.
Milan Polak - "Utopia": Quite a good tune, though some parts of it remind me a lot of a Joe Satriani tune from "Engines of Creation".
Carlos Creator - "Dialogues at the Moon": Made me think of "Plastic" era Joey Tafolla. Good guitar work, funky bass.
Mistheria and Friends - "When You Wish upon a Star (A Jam for Jason)": A song with a piano-driven start, very cool afterwards, sortof a David Lee Roth vibe. Thankfully there is no singer who might want to attempt (and fail) to imitate Roth himself.
J.K. Northrup - "I.M.N.U.": One of the tracks on this album with the best guitar work.
Stephen Ross - "Perpetual Burn": See the earlier review of the first "Warmth in the Wilderness" album. This, too, was on the Japan-only third disc.
Steve Booke with Magic Elf - "Life Afterlife": This is a very good song, one of the best original compositions on this tribute. Excellent guitar, bass and drums.
Maria Parga - "Hourglass": A dreamy track with soulful guitar work. It's very well done, and ends just when it's beginning to drag on a bit.
Daniele Liverani - "Meteor": This track starts disc 2 with meaningful spoken words. But there's also a lot of shred, vaguely techno feel at times. The more sensitive parts have disctinctly Jason-like phrasing.
Rypdal and Tekro - "Windcrystal": A very industrial-sounding track with the bass turned up too loud. Don't like it much myself.
Slav Simanic - "Speed Metal Symphony": Again, a track off the Japan-only third CD of the first tribute. But I have to say again: Amazing.
Max Arminchiardi - "Serrana": The ultimate arpeggio demonstration track, presented by Jason on every clinic and his educational videos. Still, it's amazing to hear someone play this.
Ray DeTone - "Images": Some beautiful clean guitar work at start. Cool Hammond-sounding keys, too.
Keith LuBrant and Bernie Lambert - "Party Favors": A very unexpected track, after all Jason only played a guest solo on this. It boasts a crappy glam-style singer. All the guitar styles (the original has Greg Howe, Jason Becker and Mike Varney) are done by one guy, with suitably different styles. Hat off for that.
Rick Brannon and Dean Lopes - "Frankenfingers": Cool, scary-sounding track. It's an original composition, though it's got references to Jason's "Air" in there. Excellent guitar work, nice bass by Philip Bynoe.
Scott Hughes - "Jewel": Like a guitar crying, especially at the beginning...see the review of the earlier tribute, as this, too, was on the Japan-only third disc.
Rusty Cooley - "Peace of Mind Pt. 1": One of the heaviest tracks on this tribute, it could have been on Friedman's "Dragon's Kiss".
Chris Hattingh - "Angel Eyes": This is not too great a track to start with, originally, and this versions adds little.
Joseph Anastacio Glean's Valediction - "The End of the Beginning": I really do love this track. See the previous tribute review.
Joe Becker - "Warmth in the Wilderness": This isn't Jason's brother, nor in fact is he related, but talent-wise he might very well be. He can play a pretty mean guitar...
Edge of Time - "Lady Luck": This track features former Malmsteen drummer (Michael von Knorring) and keyboardist (Mats Olausson). It's a good track with a good enough vocalist.
All in all, again a much worth while album with a wide variety of track on offer. I was glad to notice that not all the Japanese bonus track things of the first volume appeared on here (Byron Nemeth Project's "It's Showtime", Tony Gambale's "Dang Sea of Samsara" and Sultan of String's "Dweller in the Cellar" didn't), else I would have felt cheated a bit. Thankfully, this new tribute only contained one DLR track and a few vocal tracks.
If there's ever a volume III I think Malmsteen, Satriani, Dweezil Zappa and definitely Eddie van Halen ought to be on here.
Click here if you want to check out the previous "Warmth in the Wilderness" tribute CD review.
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Written December 2002
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