The title says essentially all you need to know. Legions of fans had been urging the Duke to release an ultra guitar-drenched release. If that’s you, get this ticket to Guitar Nirvana!
With Guitar Groove-A-Rama, Robillard has shed virtually all excess baggage except bass and drums, save infrequent contributions from sax/keyboard. Even his vocals are de-emphasized on the 14 generous tracks where the master digs deep into his virtuosity "bag-of-tricks".
It’s all abetted by a guitar armada (stratocasters, telecasters, epiphones, fenders, etc.), and there’s not a dull second to be had over the nearly 80 minute duration (that’s no typo!).
Setting sail on a kaleidoscopic journey where genres seamlessly piggy-back atop each other there’s obvious nods to his Blues mentors (Sonny Boy 2 "--No Way Out"; Li’l Son Jackson--"The Sky’s The Limit"), and there’s a 16 minute tribute via "Blues-A-Rama" dedicated to his Blues guitar mentors, including Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Buddy Guy, and The Three Kings. Comprehensively compelling!
Robillard boldly re-shapes Bob Dylan’s "Down Along The Cove" into a Johnny Cash/Rockabilly amalgam, or how about "Danny Boy" getting bedecked in a funky groove while retaining its melodic grandeur.
Several helpings of exotica add soothing pleasures, such as "Dawn" with its lush aural images of waving palm trees, or the wonderful acoustic arrangement of "Dark Eyes". "This Dream" was introduced on Duke’s Temptation album, but it gets retrofitted with a distinctly eastern flavor. Bravo!
There’s a wide helping of many other styles: Stax ("Do The Memphis Grind"); Ray Charles/Nat King Cole-oriented R&B ("I’ll Do Anything But Work"); Blues guitar fireworks ("Cookin’); and Gospel-flavored Jazz ("Sunday Mornin’").
It’s all utterly convincing, making "Guitar Groove-A-Rama" a colorful and engrossing tapestry of versatility, while providing conclusive proof that age hasn’t dulled Duke Robillard’s insatiable curiosity. And his grateful fans wouldn’t want it any other way.