Monday, April 23, 2007

Page Vs. Trey; Page's New CD; Police tickets?

Will keyboardist Page McConnell emerge as the ex-Phish guy to beat, rather than frontrunner Trey Anastasio? Maybe so, according to Susan Visakowitz, in a review posted at

"The former Phish keys tickler makes a steady, sweet and honest solo debut, besting the unfocused and overly slick recent efforts of better-known compatriot Trey Anastasio," she writes, going on to suggest comparisons between McConnell's music and that of Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

Really? I quite liked Shine, the guitarist-singer's fourth solo CD and his first since Phish's 2004 break-up (their last one?). Here's what I wrote in my review of the CD, published in the St. Petersburg Times:

"The title track is buoyant modern rock, with a bridge reminiscent of Peter Gabriel; the second half of the folkish acoustic-electric "Invisible" is lined with Beach Boys-style vocal harmonies; "Wherever You Find It" is traced with pure pop, a la Squeeze; road-trip love story "Sweet Dreams Melinda" is built on a jaunty, colorful groove a la the Grateful Dead and a British Invasion bridge; and the mellow ballad "Love That Breaks All Lines" wouldn't be out of place in a James Taylor set."

So maybe I got carried away a bit.

Billboard isn't the only place to find positive reviews of Page's new CD.

According to Jaan Uhelszki, in a review for "A much funkier album than his two Vida Blue efforts, with more sophisticated vocals, McConnell no longer seems so determined to distance himself from his high profile past. He not only invites former band mates Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, and Jon Fishman to guest, he allows himself the freedom jam as in days of yore."

More reviews of Page McConnell:

I just listened, online, to "Beauty of a Broken Heart" and I absolutely like the pure-pop feel, the loping rhythms and the swirling psychedelia of the thing. "Heavy Rotation" starts out with light-funk bass, wah guitar, '60s/'70s electric keys (Rhodes/clavinet) before dropping back for Page's extremely mellow, folk-pop melody and, later, vintage chewy synthesizer noodling. As it rolls on, the sprawling tune (10:39) turns into something of an Allmans-esque jam, albeit a bit jazzier than what's suggested by that description.

It's not all that far from Phish land. What's not to like? I'll definitely have to come back to hear the rest of the CD.

It might be fun to see a triple bill: Trey's side project, or whatever, Oysterhead (w/Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland) with Page's side project, or whatever, Vida Blue (w/Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge and ex-Funky Meters drummer Russell Batiste) and Phish bassist Mike Gordon, with The Duo.

I had a chance to catch Oysterhead's very first show, in 2000 at the Saenger Theater (yep, see my review here). And I caught Gordon with The Duo (AKA the Benevento-Russo Duo) at Jannus Landing, in December 2005 (my review, for Billboard). I've heard, liked and reviewed Vida Blue's CDs, but I've yet to catch the trio live.

BTW, Stewart Copeland will play with the Police around the world and at Bonnaroo this summer. Can't make it to Bonnaroo (maybe someday) but perhaps I can figure out a way to get to the Police show at the St. Pete Times Forum, without spending a fortune.

Help, anyone?

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