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Reb Beach – A View From The Inside Award winner

Reb Beach
A View From The Inside
by Kenn Staub at 09 January 2021, 12:06 AM

Berklee College of Music trained guitarist REB BEACH is a founding member of WINGER, playing on hits such as “Seventeen” and “Headed For A Heartbreak.” The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) native has also had stints as a member of ALICE COOPER’s backing band, DOKKEN, and NIGHT RANGER. An in-demand studio musician, he’s worked with the likes of HOWARD JONES, CHAKA KHAN, BEE GEES, TWISTED SISTER, ROGER DALTREY, and DANGER DANGER. BEACH presently splits his time between the reformed WINGER and current iteration of WHITESNAKE. He released his third solo album, the all instrumental “A View From The Inside,” on November 6, 2020.

When assigned to review “A View From The Inside” by the editors of this site I must admit to being less than enthusiastic. Aural images of a vanity project by a guitarist intent on dazzling with sonic tricks and bombastically complex solos, all played regardless of musical context, flashed through my mind. After listening to this 42 minute album, however, I would gladly apologize to Mr. BEACH in person for these preconceived notions, as they proved entirely unfounded (an idea not so far-fetched, as he lives just an hour south of my home in Clarion, PA). What I heard instead was an incredibly talented guitarist, more than capable of throwing down complex riffs and intricate solos, who realizes playing in an ostentatious-free manner and remaining true to a song’s melody and rhythm is a much better way of putting his skill set on display.

Far from a one trick pony, BEACH is an eclectic guitarist capable of playing several different styles, oft times fusing them into something more interesting than the sum of their parts. The songs on this album offer glimpses of blues, jazz, progressive, and metal, all incorporated within the musical structure of each track, rather than played in a way that causes them to stand apart. In sum, BEACH’s playing is tasteful, rather than unrestrainedly over the top.

BEACH’s voice is his guitar and the performance on the album’s opener, “Black Magic,” is ample proof that he is ready for action and can make that instrument sing. “Little Robots,” simply put, is a funky number with a trippy interlude bridging the opening and closing segments of the song. At times during “Little Robots,” I could almost picture BEACH jamming with a combo of like-minded musicians in a small club. “Aurora Borealis” has an extended guitar intro, a keyboard playing a basic rhythm underneath. The track is almost celebratory at points, in contrast to the darker tenor of the next song, “Infinito.” A bit of urgency pervades “Infinito,” making it seem as if I was caught in an intentionally established bad dream and searching for a way out.

One of my favorite tracks was “Attack Of The Massive,” a jazzy hustle with something of a 1970s feel. This song, like most of the others on the album, is a collaborative effort between BEACH’s guitar and the other instruments, in this instance the bass and drums playing fairly prominent roles. “The Way Home” has a solid bass lead and is just sort of a mellow, feel good kind of song. “Whiplash” represents another excursion into funky jazz territory, the guitar and bass engaged in melodic interplay.

Two more of my favorites followed “Whiplash,” “Hawkdance” and “Cutting Loose.” “Hawkdance” is played in a confidently strutting manner with the bass coming in big. At the mid-portion of the track BEACH riffs in a spacey, futuristic style, a quirky interlude that is quite interesting. The penultimate track, “Cutting Loose,” is really the only one on the album that I would definitely classify as metal. It’s a great nostalgic tune that harkens back to the glory days of WINGER and the glam metal movement, with the solo evoking the guitar heroes of the 1980s. The track is big, its grand, its swaggering.

The final number, “Sea Of Tranquility,” delivers just what the title offers. It establishes an atmosphere that allowed me to aurally drift, going wherever the musical current meandered. As the song progresses its tonality changes, subtly losing some lightness and gradually taking on an air of triumph.

Rather than shining the spotlight exclusively on himself, BEACH realizes its illumination is large enough for the other instrumentalists to share. As a result, though his guitar is the focus, “A View From The Inside” is heavy on melodic structures and styles, rather than just an exercise in six string histrionics. Though “Cutting Loose,” is the only song I would truly consider metal, the others are, nonetheless, interesting, demonstrating a melding of guitar styles and techniques. I will be adding “A View From The Inside” to my playlist, feeling that with repeated listening I’ll unpack even more of the complexity which BEACH so adeptly presents with ease.

Musicianship: 10
Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Black Magic
2. Little Robots
3. Aurora Borealis
4. Infinito
5. Attack Of The Massive
6. The Way Home
7. Whiplash
8. Hawkdance
9. Cutting Loose
10. Sea Of Tranquility
Lineup:
Reb Beach – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Strings
Phillip Bynoe – Bass
John Hall – Bass
Paul Brown – Keyboards
Michele Luppi – Piano
David Throckmorton – Drums
Robert Langley – Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Music srl
     


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