“A post psychedelic Phil Spector style wall of sound. Solo Elektro flies the flag for a psychedelic indie blues artist who is only truly happy when he finds new exciting outlets for his oeuvre. It’s an album shot through with raw, brash, kick ass stoner rock with a blues heart’ – Pete Feenstra – ‘Get Ready To Rock’
Solo Elektro is aware winning guitarist Gwyn Ashton’s new lo-fi garage one-man distort blue rock album. Full of chord crunching fuzz guitar, dirty octave dividers and slamming kick drum, it’s a 100% recorded in one take recording – sounding retro with a modern evolution.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. At Rockbrat, we have long considered Gwyn to be one of Australian rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest treasures, and with Solo Elektro, he has released one hell of an innovative blues/rock album bursting with an originality that is bound to re-energize even the most jaded of rock fans who thought they have heard it all before.
For those that weren’t paying attention the first time – here’s a quick intro, although fans of blues guitar greats like Junior Wells, Rory Gallagher, Steve Morse and Albert Lee can skip over this part as they are no doubt familiar with the highly respected Gwyn. Over the years Ashton has played onstage with everyone from Mick Fleetwood, Hubert Sumlin, Marc Ford to Canned Heat and has opened for Rory Gallagher, Ray Charles, Robin Trower, Vanilla Fudge, Wishbone Ash, Van Morrison, Jeff Healey, Tony Joe White, Johnny Winter, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, John Hammond and Pat Travers to name but a few. Just pause for a second and read over those names again. I’m here to tell you, Ashton is every bit as good any of those guys. Musical prowess aside, one of Ashton’s most endearing features (not including his humility – as he is one of the most unassuming, down to earth guys you could ever hope to meet), is that he breathes rock ‘n’ roll and it is his lifeblood. He is one prolific guy, who makes things happen for himself. He has never been one to sit around and wait for opportunity to come a knockin- instead – in true troubadour style, he takes his music to the people – all over the globe, and has done for years. He is always on the road. He has a bunch of albums out – all worthy of your attention. Prohibition, Radiogram, Fang It! and Heat to name but a few. Throw a dart at any of those and you are guaranteed to hit a bullseye.
Which brings me to the new album, Solo Elektro. Gwyn gives new meaning to the phrase – one man band, as he often performs solo – armed only with voice, guitar and bass drum. Solo Elektro features just those core ingredients – and it comes up trumps. Whilst he still maintains a blues backbone – he continues to push beyond any traditional musical confines, exploring new possibilities and sounds. This is one truly progressive artist who musically, cannot be pigeonholed.
Prior to the recording of this album, Gwyn came into possession of the bass drum used by Bill Ward to record Sabbath’s eponymous debut album. More than a fun fact, Gwyn uses this bass drum on the recording of the album, channeling Ward, and more than a little Iommi in fact – into the whole melting pot. So in the midst of a Central European tour, Gwyn sets up his mobile recording equipment in a room in the Czech Republic and hits the record button. With the aim of capturing his live sound to disc, without any overdubs, he painstakingly spent each day experimenting and recording each song until the performance, timing and inspiration met to produce the ‘magic’ take.
The album opens with the stunning ‘Metaphysical Journey’, a psychedelic epic that would make Allen Ginsberg proud. Lots of effects – but the key is the intertwining of the vocal over each guitar note. What a trip. Great tune. There’s also the riff heavy crunch of ‘She Won’t Tell Me’ – resplendently melodic and super catchy. ‘Dawn Of Tomorrow’ is evocative, spacious and dreamy – with a Rick Parfitt riff mid song. Love it. Blues pedants will dig ‘Please Allow Me’ whilst hard rock fans will be won over by the rifforama and rawness of ‘In Your Blood’. Broad appeal people. 11 tracks and something for even the most discerning rock fan. There’s enough flanging, phasing and fuzz effects to appease fans of 60s Brit pysch and blues rock fans alike, yet if I’m forced to pick, I’ll go with ‘Shine Lover Shine’ as the album’s plumb. I dig the energy and full on approach to this tune. It’s got a ballsy chorus and seductiveness in the slide playing that just does it for me. This smokes.
A ground breaking rock album in every sense of the world. Christmas has come early – THE Australian album of the year. 10 out of 10.
Solo Elektro is released October 20, 2017 on Fab Tone Records UK. For more details, go to gwynashton.com
Listen to an interview with Gwyn Ashton on The Australian Rock Show from March 2016 here