Wipers

Silver Sail

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AllMusic Review by

Silver Sail proves that the stone-faced frontman with the long, string-bending fingers is still moving forward without ever departing from the formula. It not only picks up where Greg Sage's solo LP Sacrifice (For Love) left off, but it also revives a thread he dangled on solo LP Straight Ahead, the first half of Follow Blind, and the last three cuts on The Circle: A slower, prettier, spacier, moodier Sage emerges, and undertones produced by his magical playing separate him from all previously mining this field. The more deliberate pace gives Sage's virtuoso guitar skills even more opportunity to bob and weave, stab and stun, float and tickle, tease and torment. As usual, words are kept to the minimum, to-the-point ideas brought home by evocative textures, singular guitar-lead style, and that spooky, chagrined, warning voice. "Prisoner" is unspeakably beautiful, as tearful as an old heartbreak movie, especially as the voice crescendos on the high note, "why." The opening "Y I Came," "Mars," and "Standing There" are similar ice-breakers, pensive complexions established by the choice of chords. As the LP goes on, Sage switches gears, and reclaims the harder, more vicious ground set by Is This Real?, Youth of America, Over the Edge and tracks such as "Way of Love" and "Nothing Left to Lose." The title track is relentless, ending with Sage's shattering chords echoing off into the feedbacking distance. Even better is "Sign of the Times," a mean litter chugger that adds minor, distinctive flavors of '50s beat/'60s surf. And the highlight is "Never Win," an absolutely soaring slab, the melody and chords to "Just a Dream Away" mixed with "Nothing Left to Lose"'s sneaky drive power. It's impossible to get tired of such a powerful sound and style, particularly as Sage's leads blister, sparkle, fume, seethe and sigh all at once. To this day, he's the only guitar player whose guitar lead almost made me cry (on the intro to "Nothing Left to Lose" a few years ago). Here's yet another chance for the U.S. to catch on to a classic talent (Sage sells out huge theaters in Europe but is still obscure here), the Hendrix of the punk/post-punk/alternative generation, a 15-year treasure trove of brilliant playing and terrific, start-to-finish great albums.

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