Geoff Achison

Classically Blue

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One of the wilder attempts at stylistic fusion to come along in quite some time, Geoff Achison and Adrian K.'s Classically Blue melds -- as its title suggests -- classical violin with elements of blues and bluegrass to mixed results. Adrian K., violinist for the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, ropes in acclaimed Aussie blues guitarist Achison for this 1994 collection of blues/R&B covers, Achison originals, and songs that Elvis helped make famous. Clearly a labor of love for both performers, Adrian K.'s weeping bow provides a strong counterpoint to Achison's meaty vocals and top-form guitar work, making this percussion-free (save occasional congas) album an earthy experiment in genre collision. The album's opening violin strokes on "Mystery Train" scream symphony hall, but as Achison's smooth guitar picking steadily enters the mix, the venue makeover to a dusty barroom becomes increasingly clear. The guitarist's husky vocals -- which recall Joe Cocker or even Paul Rodgers at certain times -- work well on Robert Johnson's "When You've Got a Good Friend" or his own troubadour-ish "Kissing Angels," but tend to come off a bit overly earnest on acoustic boogies such as Johnny Otis' "Hand Jive" and Sam & Dave's "Hold on, I'm Coming." Classically Blue's momentary flirtations with bluegrass are pleasant asides (most notably on Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon"), while Achison's three solo acoustic pieces act as a sort of adhesive for this patchwork album that doesn't ever indicate its true intentions.