CD review: Pete Anderson – Birds Above Guitarland
You might not recognize him by name, but if you’re a Dwight Yoakam fan, you know him by his twang. From ’86- ’93, Anderson was Yoakam’s partner in the studio and onstage. Anderson is that George Michael lookalike, mirrored-sunglasses sportin’, rock star guy playing lead guitar alongside Yoakam on the video for ’93’s “Fast As You” from This Time.
Even though its Yoakam’s pelvis thrusting that gets the girls screaming, they’re all sashaying to Anderson’s twangy, stinging lead above the Roy Orbison-esque throbbing, “Pretty Woman” bassline.
The Orbison influence was result of Anderson producing two of his albums, (’92’s King Of Hearts, 96’s The Very Best Of Roy Orbison) as well an eclectic roster that included the Meat Puppets, Flaco Jimenez, Tanya Tucker and Buck Owens before going solo in ’95 with his Little Dog Records label.
On his latest on Little Dog, Anderson serves up a mixed bag of blues, jazz, soul and country with a fistful of tasty twang on top. Starting off the with the jazzy strut “Outta The Fire,” Anderson works atop a big band sound, laying down licks like a plucked strand of barbed wire.
“36 Hour Day” is a soulful, funky strut Anderson chicken plucking his Tele while lobbying for extended hours in the day forget down time.
Anderson trots out his crooner skills for “Talking Bout Lonely,” a slow grind, after hours bloozer.
He serves up two versions of “Rock In My Shoe.” The first one slinks along with a shimmery, backwater hoodoo feel overlaid by some swampy harp courtesy of Anderson.
But the second one really lights up the bayou with the help of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett’s daughter Becca serving up some Mavis Staples style gritty gospel blues.
Anderson stirs things up considerably with “Red Sunset Blues,” a mix of surf, spaghetti western and jazz, Los Strait Jackets style.
He’s all over the place on this release, but that’s not meant as criticism. It’s great to see him branching out into territory he hasn’t explored as much in his previous journeys. But no matter what Anderson does, you can always be sure that the imprint of his signature twang is stamped all over it.