Bernie Tormé

Stratocaster Gypsy: From the Early Days of Gillian

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Compiled from guitar legend Tormé's own collection of past clips and concerts, Stratocaster Gypsy is a fascinating if none-too-varied snapshot of the Bernie Tormé Band at the mid-'80s peak of their powers. While the opening promo, the dry ice-drenched "Ghost Walking," dates from 1998, the rest of the hourlong main program rockets listeners back to the mid-'80s, first via four tracks shot in concert at London's Clarendon Hotel (one of the group's staunchest stomping grounds), then across seven further live performances drawn from gigs in London, Liverpool, an unnamed festival, and an equally unidentified show "somewhere." The performances themselves are as ferocious as you could hope for, with both the four-man Back to Babylon-era band and the earlier Electric Gypsies group cutting loose across some of Tormé's most characteristic hard rockers -- "Star," "Frontline," two moody moves through "Mystery Train," and a five-minute "Guitar Extravaganza," which totally lives up to its name. There's also a sadly fuzzy but immensely enjoyable version of "Shoorah Shoorah," which looks like it might have been taken from a TV performance -- dating from 1982, it's the earliest footage on the DVD, and it might also be the most entertaining. Bonuses on the disc include a handful of further live performances and galleries of photos and memorabilia, but the highlight has to be an immensely entertaining and informative hourlong interview, which takes Tormé through his entire career. Altogether, a terrific package.

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