Thursday, July 25, 2024

RAMzine Classic: Stevie Salas Colorcode

For an artist that has appeared on over 70 different albums with artists from George Clinton, Justin Timberlake and Buddy Miles to Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart not many people seem to know the solo excursions of Stevie Salas. OK, the Timberlake session passed me by but his appearances on Jeff Healey and Glenn Hughes albums marked him for closer attention. So I sought it out and was surprised and delighted by the range of influences and skills on show. I still have the original cassette version too.

This skilful guitarist released his first solo effort in 1990, called Stevie Salas Colorcode, it embodied his diverse influences and wrapped quality rock with lots of funk, soul and numerous very clever nods to his Native American heritage… and not just in the rather excellent, Hendrixian paean to his father on the track ‘Indian Chief’. This track engages and fascinates from the first note as the intro leads into a funky, irresistible beat and then a catchy and meaningful melody before the brief but exquisite solos either side of the bridge – this song alone should have catapulted Stevie into rock stardom.

That is the closing track and there is much to enjoy before then. Opener ‘Stand Up’, shows how funk and rock can enjoy a healthy relationship in the right hands. ‘Blind’ is genius from the clever plinky chord intro through the complex, accessible guitar phrasing to the incendiary solo. The machine gun drum intro belies the title of ‘Two Bullets and a Gun’ as Stevie delivers another object lesson in funked-up rock. A more straightforward, powerful rock rears in substantial head on the rather excellent ‘The Harder They Come.’ If you need a power ballad of quality, then look no further than the emotional ‘Over and Over Again’ with the added benefit of a stunning, equally emotional guitar solo.

Ten tracks and not a weak one amongst them. Stevie also released a live in Japan CD which featured the majority of this album and showed he can really hack it on stage too. Although in my humble, the later releases didn’t quite reach the highs of this one, they are still worth exploring too, especially the cleverly title Alter Native from ’96.

So, if you like your rock, rocky and your funk funky, give this underrated guitarist and this underrated album a try.

Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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