A Review of the Stefan Grossman CD
"Those Pleasant Days"
"Those Pleasant Days"Castle Music CMDDD 1038
by Stefan Grossman
This review is written by Dai Woosnam,
Well, HOT DAWG! If it isn't Stefan Grossman after all this time.
With a double album retrospective (as if a single album from this
guitar master was not treat enough!)
Here, Castle Records have made an astute raid on the 8 albums Grossman
made for the UK-based Transatlantic label in the early-mid 70s. Seldom
have vinyl archives been plundered with such inherent good taste, and
many of his past classics make their first appearance on CD here. Disc
One concentrates on the vocal numbers: Disc Two lets that engagingly
whining/croaky voice take second place to the extraordinarily gifted
and varied guitar styles.
Not for nothing did the teenage Grossman once study up to thrice-weekly
for two years at the Bronx home of the Reverend Gary Davis! It shows
here, every bit as much as it did for me back in 1970 when I first saw
Stefan perform at the Les Cousins club in Soho, London.
I guess it is hard to categorise Grossman the GUITAR player. The word
“versatile” would be an insult, since the truth is that he is not what
that implies… i.e. a jack of all trades. For the fact is that he is a
master of all styles, and a jack of none!
Blues, ragtime, jazz, folk…you name it. Grossman puts his DNA all over it. And long may he continue.
Half of the current crop of top class folk guitarists seem to cite
Stefan's instructional albums released jointly on Transatlantic and his
own Kicking Mule label, as seminal in their development as a guitarist:
so all those new rookie guitarists reading this should invest in this
double album in order to set the Gold Standard for their future
The album is handsomely produced, and contains erudite liner notes by
Colin Harper. This is a “must buy” for serious students of the
One minor caveat: if you are a Ewan MacColl fan and
thus hurry along to Track 15 of the 2nd disc, you might be
disappointed. For although the back cover tells you that this is his
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", let me assure you that it is not
quite what it seems. Stefan bases his version on Bert Jansch's
interpretation...not a work that is known to me.
But trust me, I can find nothing in this sublimely cerebral - almost
meditative - track, that even REMOTELY has any link with that
remarkable masterpiece-of-a-song, made into an international hit by
Roberta Flack! That said however, this cut of Stefan's has its own
intrinsic merit, and maybe you will listen to it and decide immediately
that it is a first cousin to the MacColl original, and that I need my
ears syringed. If so, so be it.
Buy CD from www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.co.uk
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*a subsidiary of Sanctuary Records
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