Album Review – Leslie West "Still Climbing"
I love Leslie West. Mountain is one of the most under rated under appreciated bands that ever existed. The same goes for Leslie West as a guitarist. When guys like Zakk Wylde, Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Mark Tremonti, Billy Gibbons etc. look up to you as a guitarist, you must be pretty important. It's not just his guitar playing ability, it's also his vocals you can feel what he's singing when he sings. Leslie West is a legend.
Most of the times when legends make new music it pales in comparison to the music that made them legends. Not with Leslie West though. His last album "Unusual Suspects" I would hold up with everything he did with Mountain and the same holds true with his new release with "Still Climbing." "Still Climbing" features guests such as Mark Tremonti, Johnny Winter, Jonny Lang, Dee Snider and Dylan Rose.
From the opening track "Dyin' Since the Day I was Born" (featuring Mark Tremonti) this album draws you in. It's probably the heaviest album West has made, both musically and lyrically. Listen to "Tales of Woe" and tell you didn't get chills after hearing that song. The way he plays the guitar, the honesty in his voice, that song is pure magic. Right after "Tales of Woe" he lightens the mood with Anthony Newley's "Feeling Good" (featuring Dee Snider). I'm going to give Dee Snider some props here, because he sounds fantastic on this track.
Jonny Lang joins Leslie on soul legend Percy Sledge's song "When a Man Loves a Woman" which erases all bad memories of Michael Bolton's version. One of my favorite songs is "Long Red." It's a Mountain song that as been sampled by rappers like Jay Z, Kanye West, and Common. On "Still Climbing" it's a heavier, ballsier version that it originally was.
According to West "Still Climbing" is the sequel to "Unusual Suspects." The album is about survival, never giving with a little romance sprinkled on top. These aren't new topics, but there is a just something about the way Leslie West (and his wife Jenni for that matter who wrote many of the lyrics) takes on these ideas. I absolutely love this album and I highly recommend picking it up. Those of you who pick it up will fall in love with West all over again. Those of you who don't will be missing out.