16 Tracks; 66 minutes
Guitar Slingers of the world, unite! This is your CD. Tony Torres is an unabashed slinger who blends blues riffs with high octane leads. He’s very good at it, but he is also versatile enough to change up the mix. Dramatically.
After the full-tilt blues rocker of the opening title track, “Real Gone Time” and the rhythmically complex “Let’s Rock It”, he shifts into the strange and strangely pleasing “Surf Queen” which combines early 60s surf style guitar with a slightly Latino feel. His smooth vocals also give the song a unique sensibility.
“5 O’Clock Blues” is another hybrid. Its lyrics are classic blues – “It’s 5 o’clock in the morning, and you ain’t here with me, don’t know what you’re up to, don’t know why you leave me be.” But the musical vibe is a mélange of 60s electric country, early 60s rock, a pinch of surf guitar and a whole lotta attitude. It really works.
He takes this feeling even further in the engaging “Cowboy Surfer” which you could also describe as Ghost Riders in the Surf. It is a peculiar and wholly original sound and I found myself getting completely immersed in it.
The more I listen to this CD, the more respect I have for Torres’s ability to fuse a wide range of influences into his song writing and arrangements. Of the 16 tracks on this CD, he wrote or co-wrote (with Dave Costarella) 13 of them. And they reveal an impressive range of styles, but it is especially how they fuse different styles into something new and fresh that is truly impressive.
“Marie, Marie” is a rocker with strong Cajun influences. The beat is Cajun, the guitar is rockabilly in Cajun rhythm and the voice goes from sounding slightly French to singing in Spanish. That is one musical gumbo.
Then Torres abruptly shifts gears on “Tongue Tied” into a power trio instrumental exploration that has traces of Hendrix, Mountain, and other guitar screamers from the past. He follows this up with another instrumental, “Ribbon In The Sky” that recalls Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana. It’s a laid back, sweet groove with some really intricate but tasteful guitar licks.
And to show even more versatility, Torres lays down some driving slide guitar on “Baby Come Home.” He wraps up the CD with “El Gato”, a unique take on traditional Mexican rhythms and chord structures with an overlay of blistering lead guitar. Sort of Metallica meets Los Lobos.
This album is many things, but what it isn’t is blues. There really isn’t a straight blues number on it. But it rocks and rolls and takes more left turns than the Indy 500.
Tony Torres can play. His voice, while not a great serves the music well – it fits his musical style, or rather, musical styles. If there could be one criticism of the CD it is that it may be too eclectic. It shifts gears so many times in so many directions, that musical whiplash is a ready threat.
Still, in a world where music seems more and more to be put through a blender, Tony Torres is an original, and that is gone, man. Real gone.