Is Duke Robillard a blues, jazz, swing, or rock musician? That's a question that has plagued many a record store clerk trying to slot the guitarist into a bin that fans might logically gravitate to. But, since Robillard has released albums in all of those genres, he clearly needs multiple locations for his albums, and this one needs to go in all of them. An outlet for his different vintage guitars (some shown on the cover) as well as styles he works in, Guitar Groove-A- Rama is a one-stop album for the Duke Robillard fan who isn't sure which category of music he wants to hear. Kicking off with some dusky Southern swamp rock in "Do the Memphis Grind," the album twists, turns, and wiggles through deep blues, loungey jazz, instrumental surf and pop, a Bob Dylan cover, a tango, and a 16-minute history of blues guitar legends who have inspired Robillard. If it sounds like a lot to bite off, and it is, but due to savvy sequencing and the artist's incredible talents, the project never seems scattershot or eclectic simply for the sake of being so. The 14 tracks unwind over the course of 77 minutes, but it's unlikely any fan of Robillard will be pushing the forward button during its length. Accompanied by a stripped-down duo and occasionally augmented by old Roomful of Blues cohorts Al Basile on cornet and Doug James on baritone sax and harmonica, Robillard pulls out the stops on a pu pu platter of many (but probably not every) style he knows. He swings it on his own "Cookin'," gets mellow on a lovely cover of "Danny Boy" with a surprise and humorous Beatles ending, goes country for Bob Dylan's "Down Along the Cove," and shifts into slinky combo mode when he pulls out a Ray Charles obscurity "I'll Do Anything But Work." He also revisits "This Dream," a tune previously recorded for the Temptation album, that shifts into Middle Eastern scales for a ten-minute workout that is just one of the disc's many highlights. Liner notes by the artist describe each guitar and pick-up used for the tech heads. Most importantly, Robillard sounds like he's having a blast and that vibe transfers to the listener throughout the set's extended length and various genres. It helps make this a perfect place to begin a Duke Robillard collection, or continue an existing one.
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AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz