In 1981, Brad Whitford and Derek St. Holmes released Whitford/St. Holmes. At the time, they weren’t with Aerosmith and Ted Nugent, respectively. It was a solid rock CD that has become a cult classic. Now, they’re back with a new CD, Reunion.
My main interest in this CD is Brad Whitford. He may be the most underrated guitarist of all time. If you don’t know, he’s responsible for some of the best Aerosmith songs, including “Last Child,” “Nobody’s Fault,” “Round and Round” and “Kings and Queens.” Given that Aerosmith isn’t doing anything right now, I love that we have the chance to hear some new music from Whitford.
Unfortunately, I wanted to like it much more than I do. The good news is that the CD is heavy with guitars and a classic rock sound. They’re simple and catchy. Whitford plays some riffs that could/should have been used for Aerosmith. You’ll recognize a few of his licks. Not that they’re retreads of past songs, but they’re definitely in the same vein.
Also standing out on the CD is Troy Lucketta from Tesla on drums. He lays down a solid rhythmic foundation that drives the songs.
But, despite those good things, this CD is mediocre at best. While the guitars drive these songs, the solos are surprisingly lackluster. That’s a glaring miss as Whitford can solo with the best of them. He more than holds his own with Joe Perry, but none of it is on display here.
The production on Reunion is way too clean. These songs are dying for a down and dirty sound. As a huge fan of classic rock bands growing up, I’ve always noticed how many “reuniting” bands would put out new music with much cleaner production than they had in their heyday. That cleanness pulls out some of the soul and passion from the songs. It’s just a bit too smooth.
Finally, Derek St. Holmes‘s voice is strong on some of the tracks, but he struggles with the higher notes. He sounds good when he stays in the lower ranges but overextends his voice more than he needs to on this CD.
Although a bit disappointing, it’s worth a listen if you’re a fan of their original album. The highlights are “Shapes,” “Rock All Day,” “Hell Is On Fire” and “Flood of Lies.” And, if you get a chance, check them out on tour with Whitesnake this summer (Brent Fitz from Slash and the Conspirators replaces Troy Lucketta on drums).