Chris Spedding has been one of the more noted and in-demand session guitarists of the last 40 years. He is much better known in his native England then the United States but has still recorded and toured consistently in America. He has now issued his 13th studio album titled Joyland.
Spedding is more of a heavy-handed guitarist in the Duane Eddy tradition than a light precision approach such as Eric Clapton or Mark Knopfler. It may not have the twang of Eddy but it is a full-bodied sound that he evokes from his instrument.
He has always been one of the best guitarists working on the music scene but wisely surrounds himself with an array of guest vocalists for his original compositions.
The album has a different and creative beginning. Actor Ian McShane provides the vocal for the spoken word title song.
His guitar work is consistent throughout the album so it is the guest vocalists that give the tracks their personality. Arthur Brown of “Fire” fame brings his rhythm & blue holler style to “Now You See It.” He has recorded with rockabilly artist Robert Gordon in the past and here he provides the vocal for “I Still Love You.” Bryan Ferry’s voice runs counterpoint to Spedding’s guitar work on “Gun Shaft City.”
Two instrumental probably represent his approach best. Early in his career he did some production work for the Sex Pistols and Glen Matlock joins him on “Café Racer.” “Heisenberg” is a pyrotechnic guitar romp with Smith’s guitarist Johnny Marr.
Chris Spedding is one of those musicians you have probably heard a number of times without realizing It. Every once in a while he steps out on his own and while he may not change the face of rock and roll, he brings a sophistication and joy to his music and in the final analysis, that will due.