Earl KlughEarl Klugh
Album: Soda Fountain Shuffle/Life Stories/Solo Guitar
Label: BGO
Tracks: 34

BGO Records are maintaining that the Beat Goes On by releasing this excellent retrospective triple album package featuring the king of smooth jazz guitar, Earl Klugh. And it is so silky smooth. Kick off your shoes, relax, and let the rhythms wash over you as you are transported to the mid-Eighties.

This package will no doubt introduce some new listeners to Earl Klugh's work and this is a good place to start.

The three albums showcase some of the Eighties excesses but also include Klugh's masterpiece, Solo Guitar. The standout album was first released in 1989 and features just Earl and his guitar playing a selection of classic standard songs.

The format is simple but the playing is sublime as Klugh reels off instrumental standard after standard.

Most songs are instantly recognisable. There's If I Only Had A Brain from the Wizard of Oz,Someday My Prince Will Come from Snow White and the 1930's jazz standard It's Only A Paper Moon.

All played effortlessly and with such breath-taking precision it is a joy to listen to.

We get Any Old Time of The Day - written by Bacharach/David and recorded by Dionne Warwick. There are two Gershwin songs - Love Is Here To Stay and Embraceable You, along with Sinatra's You Make Me Feel So Young.

The album concludes all too soon with Jerome Kern's The Way You Look Tonight first performed by Fred Astaire in the film Swing Time in 1936.

Each song is around the three-minute mark. There is beautiful playing throughout and the recording is exquisitely simple. It's hard to believe there is only one person playing at times. It's a must for all guitarists or anyone who appreciates fine musicianship.

The other two albums Soda Fountain Shuffle (1985) and Life Stories (1986) by contrast fall wholly into the smooth jazz category featuring largely instrumentals with lush arrangements.

Listen to Return of the Rainmaker on Life Stories - it's all there, strings, sax, and brilliant jazz guitar. Then listen to Moon and The Stars a beautiful solo guitar piece.

Soda Fountain Shuffle features lots of synths - as if they were the new thing on the block - which of course they were back in the Eighties.

This package is worth it for the Solo Guitar album alone but you'll find lots of other interesting pieces on the other two albums.

I was reminded of the Fast Show, when the jazz show presenter says: "Nice!"

This is all very nice indeed. Hats off to BGO for putting this out again.

John Knighton