George Cocron can really wail on that “GEEETAR,” and he makes that incredibly clear on his latest release, a solid but sometimes unfocused release titled Eight Driver. The styles on the CD range from straight-ahead roadhouse rock and roll to a couple of attempts as smooth jazz – Cocran is obviously making a sincere effort to stretch out his musical horizons. While this is an admirable aim, Cocron seems to have the tendency to lose some focus and effectiveness when stepping outside his rock and roll roots. However, his incredible guitar playing make up for the few ill-advised jazz tracks found on Eight Driver.
To classify Cocron’s guitar playing as anything other than “top notch” is downright unfair – this guy really knows his way around the fretboard and has got the chops to prove it. This prowess is especially apparent on the ZZ Top inspired “Eight Driver,” where he displays his blues talents and “Gypsy Soul,” where midway through Cocron launches into a totally insane bit of shredding that left me wondering why I hadn’t heard of this guy before. The other rockers on the CD contain more of Georg’s premier guitar work, and with the exception of a plodding cut titled “Deadlock,” the compositional work is very good as well. However, Cocron runs into a bit of trouble when he crosses the line from hard rock to smooth jazz. A couple of jazzy cuts – “Rainbow” and “Time Out” – don’t work at all, and feel very out of place sandwiched between the more metal-influenced material. And the synthesizer heavy piece, “Anomaly,” had me shaking my head wondering why it made the album at all – it has nearly nothing in common with the other tracks on the album, and doesn’t work very well at all.
That’s not to say that Cocron isn’t capable of producing interesting material that is outside the hard rock arena. Georg peforms a very nice acoustic interpretation of Handel’s “Sarabande in D Minor,” and he actually succeeds at pulling off the smooth jazz bit with the album’s closer “Looking Back,” which features some beautiful piano by Glynn David and more of Cocron’s excellent guitar work. These tracks show that Cocron is capable of branching out into other genres, but the release as a whole seems to indicate that he can’t do this in a consistent manner quite yet. That having been said, I certainly applaud Cocron’s efforts at creating an eclectic selection of tunes on Eight Driver, and look forward to future releases from this excellent guitarist.
Personnel: Georg Cocron: Guitar, Percussion; Glynn David: Piano (Track 12); Tommy Jewell: Percussion (Track 12); Martin McPherson: Saxophone; Michael Lee Ostrander: Guitar (Track 6); Dennis Painter: Drums; John Sickles: Vocals; Blane Sloan: Bass, Guitar (Track 11), Percussion; Kevin Waggoner: Bass (Track 12)