Various Artists

Guitar Gods [EMI]

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Guitar Gods. The title alone suggests that this budget-priced compilation would be filled with fretboard pyrotechnics and dive-bombing whammy bars. And that is the case for much of this album: Eric Johnson, Robin Trower, Michael Schenker, Sammy Hagar, Billy Squier and Michael Stanley all contribute tracks. Most of the cuts are skewed toward slick, bombastic album rock from the early '80s, which is just before Eddie Van Halen's mind-boggling technique was mastered by guitarists at large. Johnson and Butcher's tracks do date from the post-Van Halen era, but both guitarists worship Hendrix, not Eddie, which means they fit pretty well with the other hard rock workouts on the disc. The exceptions to the rule are Brian Setzer and Phantom, Rocker & Slick's post-Stray Cats excursions, which are fairly good roots-rock and rockabilly cuts. And then there's the brilliant power-pop songwriter Dwight Twilley, whose single "Girls" boasts the most memorable hooks and melodies of anything here, but stylistically just doesn't belong here. Even so, it's a good song and helps make this budget-priced comp worth a listen.

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