Paul Gilbert

Burning Organ

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"I wanna play guitar every day" go the words to "I Like Rock," the first song from Paul Gilbert's deceptively named 2002 solo album Burning Organ. Both the song and its message may at first seem overly simplistic, but they're actually quite accurate given Gilbert's obviously sincere happiness just to be holding his guitar and making it roar and squeak. After all these years in the rock & roll trenches, it's refreshing to find a guitar hero so incapable of taking himself seriously. In fact, unlike most of his peers in the shredding community, Gilbert not only handles singing as well as six-string chores, he also comes off as unnaturally well-adjusted and, well, happy. His playing is also surprisingly restrained considering his pedigree (Racer X, Mr. Big, etc.) and continued affiliation with the Shrapnel label (the house that shredding built), making for an album filled with songs featuring guitar solos, rather than solos disguised as songs. Despite this commendable attitude and unusually unselfconscious sense of humor, his songwriting as a whole is at best merely competent, at worst rather unimpressive. Still, album standouts like "Bliss," "I Am Satan," and "Amy Is Amazing" are far more memorable than the barrage of 16th notes regularly spewed by his masturbatory competitors -- his preexisting fans won't be disappointed.

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