Leslie West

As Phat as It Gets

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He's half the man he used to be in terms of mass, but when it comes to rock & roll, just stand back and listen as the master holds court. The man who once recorded an album called The Great Fatsby is back, slimmed down and kicking as hard as ever on tracks like "Palace of the King" and "Allergic." West comes out jamming, backed by some pretty familiar names from the lexicon of classic rock, including Joe Lynn Turner, Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, Popa Chubby, and a little band called the Destroyers, who take time away from their day job playing with a fella named George Thorogood. When West rips into the old blues standard "Stormy Monday," it's take-no-prisoners electric blues, and his covers of "Tequila" and Otis Redding's "Respect" are Mountain-ized. (Speaking of "Respect," it's a little-known fact that West's first group, the Vagrants, had a version of that very same song out on a single in 1969 that was meant to be their key to the big time, but when Atco issued Aretha Franklin's now-legendary version, the Vagrants' record was blasted into obscurity.) "Raw Nerve" rocks with a real Billy Gibbons influence, and "The Cell" is an infectious life-in-prison tune that's meant to be played loud. Actually, the whole album sounds best with the volume knob set at 11. Oh, and if you're looking for blues, there's a ripsnorter penned by Leon Russell called "Me and My Guitar." "As Phat as It Gets" mixes the best elements of Frank Zappa, Black Sabbath, and Mountain into one smoldering tune about weight loss. If you like your rock & roll heavy, this one's for you.

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