I am not the biggest fan of the Steve Vai/Joe Satriani school of guitar theatrics, but I must acknowledge talent when I hear it and Todd Grubbs has bucket loads of it!! Thankfully, he has a good ear for melody as well and right from the first track, I was hooked.
Based in Tampa, Florida, Grubbs has himself quite a little instrumental combo in drummer Jeff Henry, keyboardist Jordan Leino and bass player Patrick Bettison. Beautiful Device is Grubbs' third instrumental CD and as much as it is a full band recording, it is firmly a guitar lovers delight.
Highlights are many, but I'd like to single out the one two punch of "Satafacation" and "Time Phazer". The former is irresistibly funky and the latter contains a great Eastern tinged riff. Oh… and if you are puzzled by the bizarre song titles(as I initially was), the booklet features a running commentary by Grubbs explaining the history of each track.
Other noteworthy titles include the playful trio of "Inky Goes to Tampa", "Get Out of My Yard" and "The Luckiest Monkies in the World". However, my favorite piece of all is probably "Ma La Vo Day (He's Your Brother)". At six minutes plus, it has a really live jam vibe about it and after listening to the track and perusing the liner notes, I was surprised to read that Grubbs double tracked his guitar parts after the basic recording. The results are seamless.
The sound quality of the CD is pretty stunning, again with a very live and natural production. One can practically hear the room in which the album was recorded.
For my money, Beautiful Device blows the pants off of Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop album or Joe Satriani's Flying in a Blue Dream. Grubbs shows off without being particularly showy and his flights of fancy are often quite lyrical. One does not need to be in awe of the Berklee College of Music league of guitarists to enjoy the abundance of pleasures contained in Beautiful Device. Very beautiful device indeed.
- Time Phazer
- Inky Goes to Tampa
- Ma La Vo Day (He's Your Brother)
- I am Frebis
- Unkle Bobbert
- The Cowboys of Alpha Centauri
- Get Out of My Yard
- My Sweet Laura
- Beatiful Device
- The Luckiest Monkies in the World
Total Time 48:37