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ED ALLEYNE-JOHNSON Reflections Wingspan Records WINGCD6 (2006)

Ed Alleyne-Johnson

Electric violinist Ed Alleyne-Johnson made his name with the starlingly original 'Purple Violin Concerto' which announced a new talent utitlising effects pedals, digital delays and so forth.

In fact some might say these are the very accoutrements that the standard electric guitarist would use when covering some of the classic rock material played here. But then again, as with a particular guitar player's unique touch and feel, Ed brings his own qualitiies to bear on the instrument and the music. And above all he does it all himself!

Opening with a three part edit of Floyd's 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' Ed quickly makes it clear his ouevre is all about the feel element that his playing brings to the pieces. On Bowie's 'Life On Mars' for example, the violin replaces the role of the voice to great effect, bringing a real sonorous quality to the song although the use of effects cannot replicate a real rhythm section.

And the same problem befalls the following cover of Zeppelin's 'Kashmir'. It's one thing to replace the lead instrument and voice, but quite another to eschew the thunderous qualities of a drummer such as John Bonham. Had this been an orchestral arrangement the heavy feel would have been provided by the combined might of a string section. On Ed's arrangement the lead violin sounds a little thin and isolated without the requisite back beat.

As if to prove the point the lead violin is far happier conjuring up all the emotion of Harry Nilson's version of Badfinger's weepy ballad 'Without You'. Ed similarly weaves his way through a lovely arrangement of 'Freebird' over a simple bass line. This track along with the magnificent closing 'Like A Hurricane' is an album highlight and is closely emulated by a superb cover of Purple's 'Child In Time'.

At best Ed brings a new dimension to the pieces and at worst as on 'Parisienne Walkways' the lead is too lightweight for a rock piece. Either way, 'Reflections' is the kind of album that although not necessary appealing to existing rock fans undoubtely holds a crossover appeal and might convert more uncommited listeners to the joys of classic rock.


Review by Pete Feenstra

Special feature

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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