Dave Edmunds isn’t always thought of as a guitarist first and foremost, yet his latest record is a tour de force of playing not just the six-string, but plenty of other instruments. Edmunds takes 10 varied songs, plays every instrument, and fills in the melodies on guitar.
The title of the record is a bit misleading. The “rags” portion involves pretty much just a couple of dazzling fingerpicked showcases – “Black Mountain Rag” and “Cannonball Rag.”
The other eight cuts are covers of pop songs from a wide-ranging batch of musicians, including the Beach Boys, R. Kelly, Elton John, and Booker T. and the MGs. On “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” and “God Only Knows,” he sticks close to the original melodies. But that shouldn’t be taken as a bad thing. His playing of those melodies is soulful and clean.
He doesn’t always play it straight though. On “Classical Gas,” he creates a rolling feel that keeps the original’s energy but gives it a fresh approach.
He wraps the record up with a solo version of Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40 in G Minor,” which, oddly enough, fits perfectly.
What was obviously a labor of love for Edmunds is a unique and rewarding listen.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s November ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.