see also: Bumblefoot - Hands (CD Review)
Bumblefoot - Uncool (CD Review)
and the Bumblefoot Interview
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
If you aren't familiar with the story behind this album, it deserves a brief introduction. 9/11 was originally titled "Guitars SUCK" until the tragedies of 9/11. Bumblefoot decided to dedicate the album to "the incomparable honor, courage, and bravery of all those who gave their lives to save others, to the memory of all those no longer with us, to the comfort and healing of those suffering with personal losses." All of the profits from the CD are being donated to the American Red Cross. The themes in the songs were already rather dark, so it's fitting that the lyrics have a lot to do with negative influences trying to bring us down.
That being said - 9/11 is one of the best CDs I have ever heard. Every song is thoroughly unique and awesome in its own right. It's actually quite difficult to describe the album as a whole due to the amount of variation throughout the songs. The overall theme is fairly dark and sprinkled with bluesy elements, but there are also some fun instrumentals like "don pardo pimpwagon" and "legend of van cleef."
"raygun" is one of those rare songs that is so irregular and mind bogglingly odd that it has been etched in my mind since hearing it. The song is a slow bluesy piece played with a fretless guitar. Bumblefoot calmly solos with a mix of bluesy licks and 50's raygun sounds like you've never heard before (that is to say, the song stands out as original even among the countless radio classics that employ 50's raygun sounds and bluesy soloing). At the end of the piece Bumblefoot plays an unaccompanied solo that sounds quite complicated and impossible to play. It's about the only point on the record where he even starts to approach showing off. Despite the technical aspect to all of his solos, he pulls off even the craziest movements with such ease that they never come across as pompous. His solos are more about communication and working well within a song than they are the oft-implicit message of guitar heroes: "look what I can do with my guitar!"
The guitar work is definitely the highlight of 9/11. Bumblefoot demonstrates his skill in a number of styles. "R2" features some great Latin-y soloing with a jazzy vibe and a very melodic feel. At times the guitar even takes on a quality similar to a human voice thanks to the inventive phrasing Bumblefoot uses. "hall of souls" is a very dark and haunting instrumental played on a nylon string guitar. You can feel the emotion vividly in this piece. The improvised "hole in the sky" and the strangely distorted and cello-enhanced (tm) "time" are similarly evocative.
On the lighter side of things, "don pardo pimpwagon" puts you in the middle of a fun-filled 70's car chase, complete with all the bizarre soloing you'd expect. From Bumblefoot that is, not from 70's car chases. Mattias Eklundh contributes a unique and unusual solo in this song, giving it an even more distinct feel. There is another excellent guest solo on "top of the world," this time played by Dweezil Zappa. That song features some of the more emotional soloing to be found on the album, as it is distorted and modified in a surprisingly expressive way. Bumblefoot really gets into the singing on this bluesy doo-wop song, and the combination of the guest solo and powerful vocals make for a very emotive piece of music.
I've only given you a small taste of what to expect from 9/11, and you should definitely head here to hear some of the songs for yourself. Compared to Uncool, 9/11 is a much more guitar oriented album. Bumblefoot's amazing technique and fretless guitar playing make the album worthwhile to guitar fans of all varieties, but more importantly, the innovative songs and sheer amount of emotion put into the work is more than enough to make me rank the CD as something all music fans should look into. If you haven't checked out Bumblefoot yet, this is a good place to start, and since buying the album results in a donation to the American Red Cross, how can you go wrong? Give the mp3s a few listens and bask in the unique experience that is Bumblefoot.