GREG KOCH '4 Days in the South' Provogue PRD 7161 2 (2005)
For those who don’t know Greg Koch is a Fender guitar demonstrator, a top session player, a Mid West guitar legend and one of the hottest players on the planet. If anything this album suggests that his strengths are also his weaknesses. For Greg is one hell of a player who thinks nothing of moving from Rock/Blues with an Allman Brothers feel to gentle funk, via some warped country and even a brilliantly conceived stab at Zappa on the self penned ‘Chicken From Hell’.
His weakness –aside from an average voice, which he cleverly disguises - is simply that the musical diversity will probably leave this major talent outside the loop of guitar heroes, which is a real shame.
That said there are so many pleasurable moments on this album that surely one or two of the fast diminishing discerning radio station will air some of these tunes.
Greg’s bio describes him as a “twisted guitar genius”, which is an accurate and clever way of describing his catholic musical tastes.
The album opens with a mean steam train shuffle, ‘Bored To Tears’ which features some of Greg’s incredible tone, and exhilarating playing. The Duane Allman style slide piece ‘When Were The Good Old Days?’ manages to emulate both Duane’s peerless playing and Greg Allman’s bluesy vocal style.
For the rest, Greg is a restless musical spirit incorporating Steve Cohen’s gritty harp on the funky ‘Can’t Get There From Here’, on an album that is a humorous and irreverent but brilliantly conceived journey through all manner of styles. The blockbusting blues ‘The Love Contractor’ and the afore mention Zappareque ‘Chicken From Hell’ are Greg’s very best efforts, either side of an unlikely but totally convincing rendition of Johnny Cash’s ‘Fulsom Prison Blues’.
Guitar fans and rock/blues fans alike will sure love this latest “king of the strings”, best summarised as virtuoso playing made fun.
Review by Pete Feenstra