Fingerboard Road is an exciting excursion inside songs, some that were ingrained into the population when Top 40 radio ruled. Steely Dan’s “Peg” has the guitar speaking the vocal melody on this all-instrumental disc. Ray Charles 1960 classic, Georgia On My Mind gets the soulful longing transferred from Ray’s immaculate voice to the guitar string in a soothing and beautiful way.
Bobby Hebb may have traveled to “Atlanta G.A.” on one of his first 45 RPMs (on FM Records,) and Juber travels to Hebb’s “Sunny,” two minutes and thirty-seven seconds of the guitarist virtuoso lovingly going over Bobby’s familiar melody, a new perspective on a song covered by thousands. The elegant ascending lines take the tune’s sound into slightly new territories, always veering back to the source. Harry Nillson’s hit “Without You,” written by Tom Evans and Pete Ham of Badfinger, also is placed into an inner-meditative state, Perhaps it was subconscious, but Juber, forever linked with Paul McCartney and Wings which sometimes overshadows his massive catalog of work, touches upon songs in Fingerboard Road that have definite Beatles’ links.
Larry Banks and Milton Bennett wrote the terrific “Go Now” for Larry’s wife Bessie Banks. Picked up by Denny Laine and the Moody Blues it became a staple of Wings shows when Laine was part of that group, which he was with Laurence Juber. Bobby Hebb – of course – performed “Sunny” on the final Beatles tour in August of 1966, the only tour that featured two of the biggest songs in pop history, “Yesterday” and “Sunny” performed live by the artists who wrote them. Badfinger being Beatles protégés, Harry Nilsson notoriously a major part of John Lennon’s lost weekend. So there’s a taste for the collectors who seek out the many Beatles covers and related songs by Laurence Juber (go to YouTube for a vast array of performances of wonderful takes on Lennon/McCartney songs and the Hendrix tune, “Little Wing.”) Pete Townshend’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” gets a treatment sans synthesizer, it’s all guitar here, along with compelling new material.
‘Love At First Sight,’ a live bonus track, plus “Without Annette” and the title track, “Fingerboard Road.” Juber cover’s “Angela (Theme from Taxi,) From the blue-eyed soul of Dusty Springfield’s chestnut “I Only Want To Be With You,” to Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” and even the Carpenters “I Won’t Last a Day Without You,” Juber covers all the bases, soul, pop, Beatles’ related on an album that you can play anytime, anywhere with the magic sustaining. Classic rock radio would be wise to embrace these new instrumentals to break up the monotony of 200 song playlists. In a perfect world…
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.