Michael Messer - King Guitar
Michael Messer was born in Middlesex in 1956. Throughout his childhood and teens he played rock music with his two brothers and in various local bands. In his early twenties, Messer spent time in Nashville where he had the chance to meet and hear some of the ‘greats’ of country music performing in their home environment. These included Roy Acuff, Hank Snow and Johnny Cash.
Back home in England in the late seventies, Messer was mastering the art of Mississippi delta blues slide guitar, buying his first National steel guitar in 1979. He began playing blues gigs, both as a solo artist and in various local bands in the early eighties. This release, King Guitar, was previously released back in 2001, and is a compilation album comprising of sixteen tracks from Messer's back catalogue.
This is one of those releases where, if you are not a fan of this kind of music, you best stay away. However, that is not to say that Messer is a one trick pony. This album takes in all sorts of musical genres, from blues, to slide guitar, even bordering on reggae on Lone Wolf Blues. Title track King Guitar though is firmly in blues territory, with crisp, clean production bringing out the bright sound of his guitar.
There are some great songs on this release. Crow Blues is a light, affectionate song, full of gentle acoustic and some excellent guitar, something it shares with Moonbeat, just Messer and his guitar with little extra accompaniment. I Can't be Satisfied has a shuffling, skiffle beat, as does Rollin'n'Tumbling, both fine pieces of music.
Some of the songs though suffer from a production far to slick and polished, taking some of the life out of the track. The backing vocals on Step Right Up are pretty irritating, something true also of Worried Life, which just goes on for ages and ages. You can add all the fiddly guitar you like, but its still boring. However, songs like Diving Duck are a welcome addition, clean and full of wonderful slide and an expertly picked guitar.
This is strictly for fans of this genre, more for older listeners than any newcomers. Messer is clearly an expert guitar player, with great experience and depth to his playing, and this collection showcases his talents to full effect.