RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Leslie West – Still Climbing
Provogue Records

Rating: B+

Leslie West is one bad to the bone, guitar playing mutha.  Best known as the guy who jammed out the tune “Mississippi Queen” with his band Mountain, West has an amazing solo career filled with great guitar playing and his latest, Still Climbing, is among his brightest gems.

The album, released October 29th on Provogue Records, will feature Leslie continuing the trend he started with the album Unusual Suspects, which saw West invite some famous friends to appear on the record.  West says, “This record is a sequel to Unusual Suspects, where I had friends of mine that include Slash, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Joe Bonamassa and Billy Gibbons come to the studio and play. This time, Jonny Lang, Johnny Winter, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and Alter Bridge/Creed’s Mark Tremonti do the honors.

 “What’s different on Still Climbing is that I wanted my guitars to sound as big as I look. So I used four of my Dean signature model guitars with my Mountain of Tone humbucking pickups. I plugged them into my Blackstar amps — no pedals — and turned them up loud and raw, and what you hear is exactly what I did in the studio. These Blackstar amps deliver everything I need without 'confidence' pedals. I played one of the early tracks we recorded for Slash, and he said, ‘That is as heavy as it gets.’"

Every song on this sucker is a loud and proud rocker. The best of the bunch are the gritty “Busted, Disgusted or Dead” and the blistering “Dyin’ Since the Day I was Born.”  The rest of them are all worthy and prove that West, who has overcome serious health issues in the recent past, is back, still climbing indeed!

By Jeb Wright