I’m always curious what an artist, usually a guitarist, might sound like when he or she leaves their previous gig as a corporate employee or a full-fledged band member. And most of the time, I’m shocked at how different they sound on their own. The first time I can remember anxiously awaiting a guitarist’s solo work was Vinnie Vincent. Looking back, I guess I was expecting a somewhat close facsimile of the Lick It Up album, since he had written or co-written most of those songs. But it didn’t sound anything like Lick It Up. The first Vinnie Vincent Invasion album remains my singular favorite album of all time. Nonetheless, I was shocked the first time I heard it.
After they each departed the Ozzy camp, I couldn’t wait to hear Jake E. Lee’s Badlands and Zakk Wylde’s Pride and Glory. Again, shock. They were both great. But not even close to Ozzy’s sound. Badlands sounded more like Led Zeppelin than Ozzy. Pride and Glory sounded like hot-rodded Blackfoot.
Which brings me to guitarist, Tracy G, who played with Dio for much of the 1990s. As the story goes, Tracy G left Dio in 1999 when RJD brought Craig Goldy back and asked Tracy G to step back and play rhythm while Goldy reclaimed his throne as the band’s showcase lead guitarist. Tracy G has remained busy ever since. He cranks out more metal than Pittsburgh.
Stylistically, Tracy G is much different than Goldy. Goldy has more of a 1980’s sound. If you listen to Goldy on the first Giuffria album from back in 1984, he sounds a lot like the other hot shots of the day…which is to say, flashy and nimble with power pop sensibilities.
But there was a clear changeover in heavy metal guitar that took place in 1990, with Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell album. Dimebag changed everything. Catchy power rock riffs in A minor were replaced by detuned riffage designed to inflict maximum pain. Although we first heard him playing the classic Dio hits, Tracy G is more of a post-Dimebag player. His tones are thicker and more resonant…and this is what you should expect from Tracy G’s latest solo album, Tramp.
TRACY G – Tramp
WARNING!!! THIS ALBUM IS HEAVY!!! How heavy, you ask? Well, last week I made the mistake of cranking it up to 11 in my shower. It bounced my brains off of my skull so hard that I spent the next few days wearing a diaper while my girlfriend fed me baby food with a spoon.
Tracy G intends to inflict some pain with this one. The album is full of fret work. However, it also showcases his singer, Michael Beatty, who brings it pugilistic style, a la Phil Anselmo. The lyrics range from dark and sorrowful to overtly political. There’s a few instrumentals in there for folks like me who get into that kind of stuff. In short, it’s a good modern metal album. But, be forewarned, don’t expect it to sound like Dio.