Shred AOTM: Melodica - Neil Zaza


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12-11-2005, 02:28 PM
I've decided to write an album of the month concerning Melodica by Neil Zaza.

Neil Zaza: Guitar, Synths
Doug Johns: Bass
Bill Cioce: Drums
Mark Leach: Hammond B3 Organ, Clavinet

Now, many of you have asked my recommendations for a ?melodic? guitarist, and some of you will surely remember Neil Zaza.

I?ve taken the opportunity to write this album of the month because I know there are a lot of you in this forum who don?t really know Neil Zaza and aren?t familiar with his work at all. I?m going to try and review this album track by track.

Now, I know most of you probably would have expected something else when you first listened to this album, because it?s not as jam-packed with fancy riffs and licks as you?d expect, this is afterall the shred forum? But once you get past that, you?ll like it anyway.

Here goes.


On With The Show

This one is not really an ?album track?, it?s more of a prelude to what?s coming next. It?s only 28 seconds long, and could best be described as one of those happy circus tunes with the trumpets and all. You know what I mean. Certainly keeps in tune with the album title though!

This Time

This Time starts off with a synthesizer intro, and then transforms into a catchy chord progression. Then the riff comes in, and it?s one that?ll be stuck in your head for quite a while. Strong melody, and very typical of Neil Zaza. On this track, he has a great rhythm tone, although I?m not very fond of the lead tone in the first quarter of the song, it gets better as the song goes on. Neil once again uses his soulful vibrato and bending to make this track very expressive. Who needs lyrics when you?ve got phrasing like this? He doesn?t throw in too many fancy licks, but he doesn?t need to.

All My Life

No synthesizer intro this time, but another lead to stick in your head til? the cows come home.
This track is probably my third favorite of this album, and with reason. Acoustic guitar backings also make their way into this song, with a rapid switch from high-intensity playing to laid back melody. This track kind of reminded me of ?The Woman In Seat 27A? by Mattias IA Eklundh.

As I Go Before You

Another synth intro, drums kick in, and so does a lead that sounds like euphory mixed with nostalgia to my ears. Pay special attention to how he uses syncopation in this one. I?m afraid I?ll sound repetitive whilst reviewing this album, because I?ll have to tell you each and every song is well-written and filled with melody and strong phrasing.


The title song of the album starts off with a synth intro that kind of reminded me of the opening scene of ?Blade?. Soon enough the lead comes in, drenched in effects. Nothing more to say here, really. Good track.


Once again, a synth intro starts the track off. This one has a strange diminished feeling to it in the start, sounding like it could be the new Bond theme tune! Nice use of legato, haunting feel, harmonics, and strings to emphasize the haunting feel.

Ship Of Dreams

This one is one of my, if not my favorite track on the CD. If you hadn?t guessed, it?s a ballad. Love those? Good, Neil does too. A lovely organ intro starts off the track, when a nice bluesy-feeling lead comes in to sweep you off your feet. It builds up to a climax, until the bridge comes. Acoustic guitars fill in the gap, with again a nice bluesy sounding lead accompanied by samples and acoustic guitars. Yes, that?s right, samples. Then it returns back to the soulful playing of the chorus. This one really shows his style. This is track seven, coincidence? You be the judge ;)

The Flow

Another ballad-like song, drenched in melancholy. Another one of my favorites too. In the beginning, an electric piano outlines the chord progression, shortly accompanied by a drum backing with a new-age feel to it. Very dramatic playing.

I Can See Miracles

Another good track. A more bluesy tone is present here, again with lots of electronic samples, and tasteful Wah use. Lots of double-stops and little bluesy licks! The chorus is one that will stick in your head perhaps the best out of all tracks on this album. In the wah-fueled solo, he also shows off his technique a bit with some sweet swept arpeggios.

Across The Sands

?Across The Sands? has another electronic intro which is again reminiscent of some techno song. But soon the guitar and organ play a nice unison lick, followed by ? again - a haunting melody backing up by heavily distorted guitar and samples. You can really feel the presence of the phrygian mode here.
This one is very different from the others though. In the middle section, a pounding electronic rhythm takes over while the guitar only plays a supporting role, but I?m all for it.

Rena ( Click on the name to hear the song!

Along with ?Ship Of Dreams?, my favorite. A nice organ intro reminiscent of Pink Floyd starts off this song, followed by a very melodic lead again, with some nice sweeps. This track has perhaps the most bluesy feel out of all tracks on the album. If I had three thumbs, this?d be a three thumbs up.

Very Important Cat Things

Cool title, cool track. I found this track very reminiscent of something Mattias IA Eklundh would do. The lines in the solo are very Nuno Bettencourt-ish.

Everything About You

A new wave sounding section opens this song, with some nice strings. A nice transparent lead tone adds to the great phrasing. The whole track breathes relaxation, along with some phrasing and licks that reminded me of David Gilmour alot.

Forgot To Make Her Mine ( Click on the name to hear the song!

This track is different from the rest of the album, if I didn?t know this was Neil Zaza, I?d say this was an Extreme song. Some nice 80?s rhythms coming at you left, right and center. Very funky and tasteful use of wah. Neil demonstrates his legato once again, accompanied by a string section. And guess what. There?s a violin solo! Awesome indeed.


The aptly titled ?Goodbye? sounds like the music being played during the ending credits of a disaster movie, or the music you?d hear when you see the main character surviving an accident that killed all of his family members. Very epic indeed, thanks to effective use of strings.

Overall, this album is a great, melodic album, filled with masterful phrasing and songwriting. Neil Zaza is a master of turning his feelings into music.

Some of you might consider this album to be too ?poppy? for this forum, but if you think so? You?re the one missing out.

I hope I introduced someone new to you, and leave some feedback, y'hear.


Master Of Shred
01-20-2006, 03:06 PM
ok, it's time for a new AOTM don't you think ?

Shawn Lane : Lead Guitar
Brett Garsed : Lead Guitar
Frank Gambale : Lead Guitar

Mike O'Neill : Rhythm Guitar
Steve Tavaglione : Sax
Freddy Ravel : Keyboards
Jimmy Earl : Bass
Joey Heredia : Drums
Kevin Ricard : Percussion

T.J. Helmerich did a guest(guitar) solo on the song 'Lovestruck'

Lots of you will probably have heard of these guys, but never actually heard any of their stuff or just a few songs. These guys are mad. ( Tavaglione is amazing as well.)

This is rather a fusion album then a shred album, but, if they go and shred....oh boy.


Actual Proof - 07:36

So What - 09:42

Hey Tee Bone - 05:30

Tokyo Blue - 07:18

Splatch - 11:56

Elegant People - 09:54

Love Struck - 09:54

Actual Proof

Starts off funky right away, that's basically what this album is about, very nice sax theme, with some variatons after that. After that a sax solo, really jazzy, of course. Great stuff. Guitar and sax solos all over the place after this. Good track, good start.

So What

Starts off funky again, bit faster than Actual Proof. Keyboards are taking the lead now, really cool melody, don't listen to much to it though, or else you'll be singing it all day long ;) Really nice bass solo after that, the tone ain't really bassy, not really warm, too trebly in my opinion, still a good solo though. After that the masters are there again, some really nice phrasing as usual, playing their ass off. Really nice, nothing sounds the same.

Hey Tee Bone ( -- Click to listen

This is pure class, really nice themes, the guitars begin quite early with their solos compared to the other track = GOOD. Really melodic, stylefull and fast haha. Sometimes it even sounds like if I'm listen to some Mario tunes, really corny melody lines at times, sounds awesome though.

Tokyo Blue ( -- Click to listen

Now this is without a freakin' doubt the best song from this album, this is seriously one of the best 'instrumental' songs ever written imo. This is the ballad of the album, really relaxing. Really nice clean tones. The sax starts with a really nice theme as usual, loads of talent that Tavaglione, really nice tone as well. Awesome guitar solos, but hey, what else can you expect from these guys ? :p:


This song starts off a little bit different compared to the rest of the album. First a couple of drum riffs and then the keys and guitars come in very soft. After that, the usual sax theme. Again, very cool, with some nice rhythm ideas, cool funky rhythm guitar in the backing. Key solo in this one, pretty darn cool, nice melodys and some fast licks, with variatons on the sax theme. This track is 12 minutes long, the first 6 minutes is basically soloing 'battle' between the keys and sax, after that the guitars are all over the place again. Some INSANELY fast playing here, by all 3, probably the fastest licks from the whole album can be found in here. These guys are seriously out of their freaking mind.

Elegant People

Starts of with a funky bass line, after that a really mellow key/guitar melody theme. Really laid back, almost falling into asleep haha. Sax comes in, tastefull as phuck of course, jeez that guy can play. Lots of sax solos in this one, ain't got mucho to say about this one. Really tastefull, lots of guitars of course :cool:

Love Struck

Starts of really funky, sax enters, usual stuff. Helmerich does the openings solo in this one ( Guest guitar solo ) Really funky, one of the better songs of this album in my opinion. Some really fast playing in here again, nice solos as well.


Overall this is without a doubt one of the most amazing albums that I've ever heard, a perfect example of 'how good can you get'

Really funky, like the title already says.

I hope that you guys get your arse in Fusion now :D :p:


Prophet of Page
07-24-2006, 06:59 PM
Allan Holdsworth ? Road Games

I?ve decided to write an Album of the Month concerning Road Games by Allan Holdsworth.

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Jeff Berlin: Bass Guitar
Chad Wackerman: Drums
Paul Williams: Vocals on ?Road Games.?
Jack Bruce: Vocals on ?Was There?? and ?Material Real.?
Paul Williams: Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals

Allan Holdsworth is the guitarist that Frank Zappa once described as ?the most interesting on the planet?- and many would agree. His early albums, though highly critically acclaimed, have been incredibly difficult to find for many years, until their recent CD re-releases. Road Games is likely to have been the most hard to come by.

Originally made in 1983 with the financial backing of Eddie Van Halen (see, he did a lot more than just popularise tapping), Road Games seemed doomed from the start, due to shaky artist/label relations. While the six tracks on this album were released briefly in 1984, the full album was never completed, even now.

I?ve chosen to write this for two reasons, the first being that while the name Allan Holdsworth is well known in this forum, few know much more than the name, and I feel it my duty to spread the word of such a fine musician. The second is because Resi wanted me to, and you all know how much I love him. The album will be reviewed track by track, so here goes.

Three Sheets To The Wind ( Click on the name to hear the track!

Three Sheets To The Wind kicks off the album. Without being as odd as some of the later tracks, this song gently introduces Allan?s wonderful sense of melody, with some very interesting licks that are still within the ability of a first time listener to comprehend. Great tone too, really killer.

Road Games ( Click to see live video!

Ok, now here?s where it gets more interesting. Paul Williams? unique vocal style gives the song a very characteristic feel, while Allan?s real genius is shown somewhat more than in Three Sheets To The Wind. The riffs are more abstract, and may take some getting used to, while the solo is pure Holdsworth, and one of my all time favourite solos. There is a nice, lively tapping interlude right before the solo that has quite a unique sound. Possibly the strongest track on the album, this song is worth all the praise you hear it given.

Water On The Brain pt.II

I have to say, the bass is as good a reason as any to listen to this song. It features some kickass improv from Jeff Berlin, which really compliments the Holdsworth vibe. ****ing brilliant.

Tokyo Dream

Awesome, one of my favourites on the album. A distinctly oriental main riff, with some very, very tasty playing. One mother of a solo on this one, some real sweet improv. Worth noting that this is not the same version that appears on his best of album ?Against The Clock?, though both are certainly every bit as good as each other.

Was There?

Odd. But good odd. Allan?s playing is very sweet on this one, and is complimented quite strongly by Jack Bruce?s singing. There are almost two distinct feels, sort of a mystical theme during the verses, and a lively, bouncy, riff in the absence of the vocals.

Material Real

This song starts with Allan using the volume pedal to fade in some chords, something he?s quite fond of. The song itself features some nice soft themes and vocals from Jack Bruce. Not as much going on as in some other tracks, but still thoroughly enjoyable.

Overall this is a gem of an album, one of the best that Allan, or anybody in his genre has written. Showcasing his excellent skill, musicianship and inventiveness, Road Games is one of my most prized albums, and is likely to stay as such for a long time to come.