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Guitar Player - July, 1997

Joe Goldmark- Steelin' the Beatles

Michael Perlowin-Stravinsky:
Firebird Suite

Two unlikely pleasures from pedal steel guitarists who lead their instrument far from the C&W corral. Joe Goldmark's Steelin' (available from Lo-Ball, 2259 14th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94116) delivers good-natured instrumental renditions of a dozen Beatles faves, faithfully reproducing the rhythm arrangements but replacing the vocals and guitar hooks with fluid steel. The results are often hilarious but the record is no joke--Goldmark, a member of country-jazz ace Jim Carnpliongo's Ten Gallon Cats, is a heavy player with gorgeous tone, a fertile imagination and a great rock-swing feel.

While Goldmark recontextualizes the pedal steel's country idioms, Perlowin jettisons them altogether for a jaw-dropping recital of works by Stravinsky, Debussy, Bartok and others. Pedal steel Shostakovich may seem, far-fetched, but Perlowin renders the music vath great insight and extraordinary faithfullness to the original scores. While the pedal steers inevitable portamentos occasionally sound odd in this repertoire, Perlowin's glides have an eerie, disembodied quality, reminiscent of early electronic Instruments like the Theremin and Ondes Marteneot. His E-Bowed take on Debussy's to Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is one of the most transendentally gorgeous guitar transcriptions I've ever heard, while his mega-overdubbed rendition of the Firebird Suite rivals the and audacity of Kazuhito Yamashita's notorious solo guitar version. Here Perlowin pulls out all the stops, using elaborate signal processing, Les Paul-style tape-speed tricks and a small army of stringed instruments to evoke the riotous orchestral color of Stravinsky's original. A must-hear recording from a brilliant maverick.

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