Tim Donahue reviews

TIM DONAHUE – reviews

5th Season, Earlyworks, promo – Tim Donahue

CD Earlyworks Fifth Season Tim Donahue

The 5th Season – Tim Donahue

Classification – Ambient Jazz

Original release Feb 8th 1986 – re-issued digitally August 15th 2006
Kevin Axt – Bass
Joel Taylor – Drums
Ken Shima – Keyboards
Engineered by Bernie Kirsh (Chick Corea’s personal studio engineer)
Produced by David Evans

Purchased at i-tunes UK website £8.99 available US at $9.99

This album, vinyl at the time of course, has been a long sought after item by Tim Donahue fans, so it is very good news that it is now available digitally. Recorded at Chick Corea’s Mad Hatter studios in California in 1986, this recording has been digitally remastered.

Now personally I would have preferred an actual CD, the MP3 compression artefacts are a detraction from the music, especially when using quality headphones, but that’s a minor complaint, and we do have the music.

Some of the tracks played out of order on my ipod, this is the “as reported” list.

The album opens with As Birds Fly, and when first hearing this I thought, I already have this CD. Strangely enough another shorter version of this song opens up Tim’s CD “Still Dreaming”. It’s a very haunting track where Tim uses the fretless to imitate seagulls.

What If – Tim gets that lovely Pastorious type tone out of the fretless on this track, with complex acoustic style backing.

Shari – The Japanese feel is certainly present here, outlining the versatility of the fretless guitar. A very pensive track.

Kumiko – I would say this is a stand out track, almost classical feel to the guitar, but all the bends and slides to make it something only possible on fretless.

Toyo No Caze – There should be a translation for this, starting slow with wind chimes, and an almost violin type fretless presence. Reverse tracking and edgy half voiced vocal sounds. The track peels away to a very tasty acoustic performance, yes I’m getting roundwounds, with a hint of buttercups.

Reflections off an Ocean – More complex, with keyboards, featuring Tim’s Pastorious like tone.

The Coming of Winter – Once again we get the full works here, keyboard and all. Outstanding work with the fretless, hard to believe this is twenty years back, if only I had heard this way back then. Sitting here at the end of summer, I ain’t looking forward to a hard Northern winter, mind you, listening to this, maybe it won’t be so bad.

Image Music – More exploration along the lines of “What If” complex picked guitar as the backdrop.

The Fifth Season – As the title track, this does lead out and state the intention for the album. Plus you can hear the direction Tim is going in, very much the forerunner of later intentions. Some very nice fretless work here.

Conclusions – A very nicely chilled out album, if you are looking for Mr Donahue’s heavy metal, its not on this one baby! Anyone feeling they have an interest in hearing what can be achieved on a fretless guitar will be impressed with this album. A sumptuous late night delight from TD.

Review: Jahloon, September 06

Earlyworks Volume 1 – Tim Donahue

Release August 15th 2006
Tim Donahue -Fretless electric guitar, Fretless harp guitar, Fretless MIDI guitar, Fretless classical guitar.
Joel Taylor, Keichi Ishibashi: Drums
Kurt Wortman: Percussian
Shunsuke Mizuno: Bass
Engineered by Ira Rubinitz, Duncan Aldrich, Shinya Kikuchi & Tim Donahue.
Recorded 1982 – 2000 at Mad Hatter Studios, Los Angeles; Red Zone Studios, Los Angeles; The GuitarHouse, Tokyo.
Written and Produced by Tim Donahue.

Purchased at i-tunes UK website £8.99 available US at $9.99

This compilation covers nearly 20 years of Tim Donahue’s work, some old favourites but most of the album will be new to the seasoned TD fan. Overall the sound quality is far better than 5th Season, but we are twenty years on technology-wise.

The album kicks off with Ambiguity, any fan of the fretless will instantly recognise this as Tim’s stand out track on the ground breaking CD “Fretless Guitar Masters”. When I first heard this I asked, why didn’t Tim play with Weather Report?

Flying – This track has a more dynamic feel than the rest of the album, just the day for flying. Chocks away!

Just An Illusion – Dark use of the MIDI guitar here, dense late night feel. Is it a trumpet, is it a guitar? Do you need to know?

Bits and Pieces – Relaxed, jazzy, cool, mint ice cream and expresso.

For Manfred – More jazz, but so relaxed.

Eclipse – Nice jazz atmosphere, very free form fretless, tickling parts that don’t get tickled that often, gentle yet rapid.

Being Labo – A stand off between Ambiguity and the rest of the album, warming up to the overall jazz feel. Nice drum solo (and I don’t like drum solos).

Brief Departure – A lovely Indonesian feel to this track, stunning playing with a very free feel.

If You Were Me – Very nicely worked acoustic, very obviously fretless, very gentle, soothing like a couple of aspirin chasing clouds of paracetamol.

Conclusions – Once again, a very laid back soulful album, with a few inspirational ups. Delicate and at the same time inspiring. Sorry, no heavy metal lads, it’s the other side of Tim.

Review: Jahloon, September 06

Madmen & Sinners – Tim Donahue, featuring James LaBrie

CD Madmen & Sinners Tim Donahue

Classification – Progressive Metal

Tim Donahue has been working on his cynical commentary about religion and modern society for quite some time now so when his seventh album “Madmen and Sinners” finally arrived we played it to death and still tend to be playing it to death.

Now I’m easily pleased when it comes to this sort of stuff so I took the album to a good friend and very well respected heavy metal guitarist. He said he would listen to it only if it was not one of those fretless guitarists that I kept pestering him with. OK, so I lied, but the upshot was he gave the album a very good rating. “A bit like Queensryche or Dream Theatre” Well James LaBrie (Dream Theatre) is on vocals. When I admitted who had made the album, and that the fretless guitar was involved he just said “I wondered how he was doing some of that bottom end stuff.”

In fact the guitar work on this album is staggeringly good. If you want to hear what can be done with a fretless guitar this has to be one of the best albums to listen to. Tim does give workshops from time to time and we hope to have some in the UK soon, you will have to queue behind me though!

Back to the album, Madmen opens up with “Million Miles” and if you can’t feel the apocalyptic heat of this track you haven’t switched your soul on this morning.

Its not all about banging your head though, the tracks “Let Go” and “Wildest Dreams” prove that Tim can also deliver sensitive melodic music.

But then if you want to hear a wall of sound with drummer Mike Mangini’s double bass drum kit threatening to blow your speakers all over the carpet Madmen is just the ticket. You must play this CD very loud.

The album does bathe in gothic majesty, interspersed with panic ridden riffs, consummate in delivering rhythmic message, catch the urgency of the fourth track “Feel My Pain” an absolutely stunning delivery. There is even a touch of humour here and there.

The album concludes with the 15 minute title track which is a bit of a roller coaster, winding up slowly and dropping you into oblivion. Listen to lyrics? You may want to, the ones on this album paint a very dark picture.

All in all Tim has delivered what he promised, a masterpiece.

Review – Jahloon

Mark’s Mountain – Tim Donahue

Album Mark's Mountain - Tim Donahue

Mark’s Mountain (movie soundtrack) – Tim Donahue
Nippon Crown Ltd
Shochiku Films Inc.
Fretless Guitar and Full Orchestra

If you were expecting a dose of heavy metal from Mr Donahue, you are in for a surprise. Those of use lucky enough to have heard Still Dreaming will know Tim’s sensitive side.

Its always difficult to judge a soundtrack if you have never seen the film and worse still cannot read the sleeve notes as they are in Japanese.

So here goes, tracks one thru six are very gentle, perfect chillout music for the end of the day.

We hit track seven and its out with the Nothumbrian pipes or something similar, which may disturb your chilling out, but once again it’s a film soundtrack and will most likely fit perfectly in context.

Track eight I’ve heard before, but I can’t remember where. Its very much back to the chillout section, by the way.

Track nine is deep, sad movie stuff. Ten is very reflective and moody.

The final track features a stunningly fine performance from Tim, with the full orchestra building behind him to a very edgy climax and excellently crafted finale. It’s the kind of track, when the CD has finished, you go back and play it one more time, it speaks to you.

All in all this CD is a great testament to Tim and his talent. I like it a lot, but at the end of the day it is music created to fit a film, providing you can handle that, its great.

Review – Jahloon, March 2006

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