ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
BUMBLEFOOT "9.11" CD REVIEW
I first heard Bumblefoot back in 99' when I received in the mail the first CD called "Hands". I knew at that moment this was something special. Bumblefoot, for the most part anyway, IS Ron Thal. It took me awhile to figure that out. "Hands" was a Funky, Heavy, Playful, and one helluva CD that I still listen to quite often. The latest project was originally called "Guitars Suck", but due to unfortunate timing, it was re-named 9.11 after the New York City tragedy, with ALL proceeds going to charity. So despite the fact that it's an amazing project, if you pick it up you'll also be doing something good.
9.11 is more experimental than "Hands" with most of the tracks being instrumentals. Let me say this right now. Ron Thal is easily the most unheralded guitarist out there. What he does is beyond amazing and needs to be heard to be believed. I dare to rival him with greats like Satriani simply because of his extreme versatility. He has the uncanny ability to make the guitar speak to you and some of the sounds he creates are proof that the guitar cannot, and will not be replaced by machines.
You could call Ron's style a number of things. His style and writing is similar to Dweezil Zappa, who actually contributes a solo on "Top Of The World". You might even conclude his style is "silly" at times, but I prefer "playful" and "experimental". Bottom line is that this guy has the potential to make the guitar cool again!
There's no doubt Thal has some of his roots in Metal as he seems to enjoy lulling you into a false sense of security and then hammering away into a maniacal barrage of guitar, bass and drum insanity. "Fly In The Batter", the first track is evident of that. I'm not even going to begin to try to explain how he does what he does, but it's out of the ordinary and loaded with tasty licks. Thal also does the production on the album, which is equally impressive as his playing. The drums are like compressed thunder, and the guitar tones cut through like razor blades.
Thal's vocal style and even some of the music reminds me of Lenny Kravitz work, except heavier. It's ironic how it can be so hard to categorize, yet it falls under so many different areas. Probably the catchiest tune is one of the instrumentals called "Don Pardo Pimpwagon", which gives you an idea of his sense of humor. I believe it's "The Dating Game" melody he intertwines in the chorus with his shredding funk guitar. It must be heard. He goes completely off the map with "Legend Of Van Cleef" which is an extravagant epic song that sounds like something out of a movie soundtrack.
The most important element of Bumblefoot is that you are forced to think. His first CD "Hands" is also evident of that. The barriers of what a Rock Guitarist does are shattered, while still maintaining the elements that make guitar the most versatile, emotional and powerful instrument ever invented. You need to hear Bumblefoot if you claim to be a fan of Rock of any genre. You WILL be blown away by what you hear.