Dave Beegle – session man and member of the instrumental outfit The Fourth Estate – is on a mission to prove that true rock guitar playing is alive and well with his compilation release Clear the Tracks
. The CD contains tracks spanning Beegle’s ten year career with bands such as The BOQ Trio, Artifact Symphony, Blinddog Smokin’, and The Fourth Estate – along with a couple of solo tracks thrown in for good measure. While Beegle ain’t going bring back the prominence of rock and roll guitar stars single-handedly, he’s not a bad place to start and Clear the Tracks
is a fine showcase for his talents.
The first few tracks on Clear the Tracks tricked me into thinking I was in for a heavily Indian-influenced CD full of world music complete with tables and sitars. These tracks actually work quite well (with the exception of “Monsters,” which is ruined by some very annoying vocals); Beegle’s style on “All the Kings Men” is very reminiscent of some of Jimmy Page’s Indian flavored work. However, after the fourth track the Clear the Tracks shift gears and takes a turn into the land of straight up rock and roll jammin’ – and it’s here that Beegle seems most at home. “Joy” (yes... the J.S. Bach “Joy”) and “The Hammer Song” sound like they’d be right at home on an Eddie Van Halen solo release, and contain some very nice guitar acrobatics. Beegle gets into “wankery” territory at times, but since the purpose of this compilation is to showcase his guitar talents, it is more acceptable for him to “show off” then it would be were Clear the Tracks a proper album with all new material.
Beegle’s solo efforts on this CD – a couple of acoustic tracks called “Routier” and “A Simple Prayer” feature very nice guitar work, but I found them to be somewhat lacking in the compositional department. The song structures don’t seem to really amount to anything, and these tracks are a good example of a whole NOT equaling the sum of its parts. “Mason Street Shuffle” is The Fourth Estate’s take on Southern “Boogie” Rock, and while Beegle’s guitar work is again excellent the song is just too derivative to really take on a life of its own. The classic rock angle is more successfully captured with the CD’s closing cut, a live version of Blindog Smokin’s “Goin’ Down” which REALLY captures the atmosphere of a rowdy blues house somewhere south of the border. The energy of Beegle’s performance is definitely captured here, and “Goin’ Down” shows why the proper venue for hardcore rock and roll is the stage, and not the stereo.
All in all, Clear the Tracks is a pretty eclectic mix of musical styles all tied together by Beegle’s top-notch guitar chops. While at certain times, rock clichés seem to smother the music (“Mason Street Shuffle” is a perfect example), for the most part Clear the Tracks is a fine addition to any guitar lover’s music collection.