If this longtime Genesis
guitarist's brand of edgy electric pop instrumental fare ever catches on in the smooth jazz format, it will bring a much appreciated crackle to the genre. At least he's been a little more focused on his solo projects in recent years; after making a flashy debut on GRP in 1987 (Steppin' Out
), he got so busy with Genesis
tours and touring and recording with Collins
that it wasn't till the later '90s that he found the time to strut his stuff again. Great stuff it is, as the title track mixes punchy rock and blues sparks behind a sizzling lead melody; if it was played on sax, it'd be a number one radio hit. His achievement here is making the case for his electric axe as a viable instrument both for buoyant lite funk ("Sharkskin Suit") and cool, laid-back ballads like "Promises" and "Rendezvous"; he wrote another of these, "The Least You Can Do," with Collins
. Though his focus is on being plugged in, Stuermer
is also adept at the lighter-tinged acoustic approach, although he limits himself here to only one demonstration -- the gently percussive, soundscape-enhanced "Zanzibar," which textures the lead and rhythm guitar tracks beautifully. His facility for both should inspire him to follow the Larry Carlton
path, understanding that there are audiences for both axes and for both simple tunes and more aggressive jams. Nothing too retro about this -- just a lot of sharp playing and catchy melodies that deserve much attention.