by Tom McElroy
– Reviewed by Chris Mann
guitarist and producer Tom McElroy began his playing career in 1975,
when he got his first guitar and began classical lessons. He moved onto jazz the following year. Two years later, he concentrated on music as a vocation and
was tutored by both George Benson and Pat Martino.
on his theory teacher’s advice he took his guitar on the road, touring
extensively with a rock band to get experience.
His two-and-a-half year stay in Dallas, much of which was spent
in a residency at the Ambassador Park Hotel, earned him the respect of
the local press.
period back in Seattle playing sessions, Tom, urged on by Pleasure’s
Michael Hepburn began equipping a studio and composing and producing
music. He had already
established his credentials by playing with soul singers Freda Payne,
LaVerne Baker and Etta James and gospel pianist Ben Tankard, to name
just a few…
three-month sabbatical from his job was enough to help him complete the
work he had already begun on this, his first solo project.
U opens, that heavy synthesised kick drum really catches your ear
but after a couple of minutes that mechanical snare drum starts to wear.
Having said that, the guitar is sweet and jazzy and the song is
short enough for that rhythm not to outstay its welcome.
with You is slightly darker.
The minor keyboard chords sit well with McElroy’s warm
semi-acoustic sound. Again
the rhythm is a little intrusive.
a more wistful tone on When We.
It’s a solo acoustic piece which really showcases his
songwriting and playing talents. This
is my favourite – beautifully recorded too.
title track, that synth drum plods just too much and it’s hard to lay
a guitar track down over something like that.
And the female vocal does not help the song.
It’s a direction-less five minutes.
urban on It’s 3:00 In The Morning.
The rhythm track with its bleep-bleep keyboard does work but the
talk/rap vocal doesn’t. His
guitar sound is lovely though – I’m just waiting for him to let rip.
Don’t Know is breezy and has a great West-Coast goodtime feel.
It’s a strong melody and the guitar takes it all the way.
my feelings about mechanical snare drums and percussion, the melody is
so strong and the keyboards so tasteful on En
Route, I just go along for the ride.
The song deserves a drummer, a percussionist, a stage in the
California sunshine and a very blissed-out audience.
urban feel returns for Hey You but with
that drum track, even though it teases some nice rhythm guitar out, the
song never really gets going.
effects kick off Pressure – a bit like
Donald Byrd’s “Science Funktion”.
The rhythm track is relentless but at least rhythm guitar is
snappy. The whispery female
vocal is lost on here and when Gordon Uchima’s sax kicks in, the
energy boost is welcome.
Luv is a pretty ballad. A
very clean guitar (sounds like a solid-bodied instrument this time)
carries the melody. The
drum box was tamed on this one – and that really pays off.
intro to Soft Rain makes you think the song
will be more energetic than it is.
It sounds like the guitar is really holding back in order to fit
a click track with too few BPM.
a “hidden” track to close the CD.
It’s part of track 11 but listed on the sleeve.
As with “When We”, McElroy’s musicianship shines out on
this solo acoustic number. Pretty
have guessed by now that my overall impression is one of a talented
writer, player and producer whose potential is not fully realised
on this recording.
love to hear him with a band, at a small festival because he has an
intimate style that shouldn’t be strangled by too much technology.
Enterprises (no catalogue number) – producer Tom McElroy