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LARRY MILLER On The Edge Big Guitar Records LMILCD07 (2012)

Larry Miller

The story so far. After years of relentless road work, paying his dues and following in the footsteps of his heroes Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore, Larry Miller finally found his tone and honed his style on last year's impressive 'Unfinished Business' album. And over the course of the last 12 months he's made a major impact on the festival circuit and broken into northern European territories. So far so good.

Now comes the aptly titled 'On The Edge' which succinctly captures Larry's impassioned playing style. And while fans will warm to his fierce playing, the big toned solos, the judicious mix of rock, blues, boogie and ballads, not to mention the photographically illustrated 12 page booklet, the album is a qualified success and not quite the big breakthrough we've all been hoping for.

For while Larry undoubtedly rocks from beginning to end and has penned some weighty thematically linked songs, 'On The Edge' flickers intermittently and doesn't quite have the consistency to take off like a rocket.

'On the Edge' is Larry's personal take on the blues (make that rock-blues), which is essentially a bunch of related relationship songs into which he pours his heart and soul and adds his considerable chops.

He explores the time honoured themes of lost love, missed opportunities, shattered dreams and the eternal conflict between good and evil.

But it's not all doom and gloom as he consistently rocks out and on several occasions yells out an exclamatory 'yeah' as if to share some of the in the moment excitement. But a few missing triggers mean that while 'On The Edge' is a rock solid outing it doesn't quite hit the bull's-eye.

In fact what's missing is his road tested tour band which despite getting a photo credit doesn't actually feature in full on the CD. Then there are a few occasions when his vocal phrasing and song arrangements could do with an outside producer to trim the fat and make the most of his inspired melodic guitar work.

This is especially so on the wistful 'The Girl That Got Away' and the monster rock/blues ballad 'The Wrong Name'. The latter comes with an unexpected instrumental coda that gives it the feel of an anchor track.

All that said, Larry attacks the song as if they were his last will and testament and in bass player Neil Sadler he has an impressive musical partner who contributes an effective and contrasting descending and ascending bass line on the opening barnstormer 'When Trouble Comes' and the visceral boogie rock of 'Road Runner'. But he's surprisingly deep in the mix on the tub thumping 'Reel Me In' on which Larry subtly changes tone, adds wah wah and ultimately cuts lose ebulliently.

Better still is the acoustic to electric Led Zeppelin feel of the album highlight, 'The Devil's In the Detail', with its contrasting dynamics and cleverly processed vocals.

The ballads are slightly less successful, with 'The Girl That Got Away' being a languid rock/blues affair that scores a near miss. It starts promisingly with cushioned guitar and organ and a restrained vocal and has a similar feel to a previous effort 'Delilah'. The tension breaking descending melodic guitar line and subsequent searing solo suggests a possible show stopper, but the song ultimately suffers from an over extended vocal.

Then there's the slow burning 'The Wrong Name' which features a Gary Moore style guitar figure that impressively slips into the Lennon guitar part on 'I Want You (She So Heavy)' and builds impressively on the back of Larry's mighty soloing. And despite the fact that the potential epic feel is weighed down by a plodding rhythm section and some over extended vocals, it's still probably destined to become a live favourite.

Finally the heartfelt 'We Should Be One' is full of emotion, a trembling vibrato and a stellar climactic guitar finale that deserves a better arrangement.

And yet for every occasional near miss there's a belated triumph to match. Fans will surely lap up Larry's best vocal performance on the album highlight 'The Devil's In The Detail', and the retro crackles and down home blues intro of 'When The Blues Man Walked The Earth' is a song that provides him with a potential career anthem.

This album does indeed take you 'On The Edge', and once there Larry comes so damn close to nailing his own style. 'On The Edge' is a better than decent album, but perhaps we'll have to wait just a tad longer for the career defining platter that he's potentially capable of.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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