It was with no small grin of coincidence that I found both Paul Brown's The Funky Joint (here) and Chris Standring's Electric Wonderland in my mailbox on the exact same day. Both possess a mellowly organic funk that verges on the orchestral even when stripped down. Standring had in fact done a rather marvelous symphonic trip his last time around with Blue Bolero and almost decided to jump a step further this time, really experiment with strings and such, but instead traded in his acoustic archtop for a Strat, arriving at Wonderland. I don't need to tell you that he also managed to rescue the archtop's sweet mellow sound as he picked up one of Fender's finest because ya don't hafta be Ripsaw Fretburner Beaumont to play a solid body, y'know.
Along with the shedding of the arch-top, the guitarist also tossed the plectrum approach to the side, switching to fingerpicking, further softening the attack in his sound envelope, beefing up the warm, round, fat notes. More, he plays keyboards, does the programming, sings, and even pulls out a 6-string ukelele called a 'guitalele'. Mitch Forman's a near-constant presence throughout and so you get his trademark refrains as well, and the guy's been in and out of damn near every style. One track, Merry Go Round, sounds just like what it's named after but, of course, a much hipper version which soon breaks into an improv section and gambols hither and yon.
Electric Wonderland, like Paul Brown's effort, is a surfeit of mellow sonorities, jazzy and swingin' but not like Benny Goodman, no, more in a Tom Grant or Dan Siegal vein…but much better than both of them combined. Hints of Geissman, Benson, Klugh, and others can be caught as the CD progresses. The penultimate number, Castle in the Sky, is my favorite, but it has plenty of melodic company along the way. I hear Jeff Golub coming through in this as well, another guy who nailed the atmospherics so well, and thus, if you're familiar with his stuff along with everything else, you should have this disc nailed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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