Dog Party

This collection of ten blues and blues-rock tracks represents jazz guitarist Scott Henderson's tribute (if not complete return) to the emotive guitar playing of his early guitar influences: Jimmy Page and Albert King. Released in 1994 after a string of highly acclaimed jazz fusion recordings, Dog Party won equal approval from the fickle guitar virtuoso press and fan base, winning every important magazine readers poll for best blues recording. Accompanying Henderson on drums and vocals is drummer, vocalist, and fellow Tribal Tech member Kirk Covington; bassist Richard Ruse; and a host of heavyweight guest guitarists, vocalists, keyboard players, and other instrumentalists. The music is comparatively direct relative to Henderson's fusion work, but the guitarist's chord and phrasing mastery is plenty evident throughout Dog Party. Choice tracks include the vibrant "Milk Bone," the fuzzed-out and excessive "Hound Dog" cover, and the furious opener, "Hole Diggin'." These stretched-out tracks are pure musical treats, while the more pop- and rock-structured cuts have an effect that might leave fans feeling as if something (specifically, the guitarist's tasty soloing) is being unduly held back. Smart, syncopated, and snappy, Dog Party is a feast of stylish blues served with grace and feeling.

Vincent Jeffries
This is Henderson's first album from 1994. I can see why this cd got so many rave reviews after it came out. It's filled with more than enough killer hooks and mind-blowing guitar work to fill any void left by Stevie Ray. But like most all blues rock albums I listen to nowadays, I often tend to focus more on the music and overlook the lyrics. Because after all, most modern day blues artists like to keep it simple when it comes to adding those cumbersome words to their music. But this one isn't that typical "my baby left me and I lost my job" type of blues album. First of all, as you might have deduced from the title, this cd deals with dogs. That's right, all the music here refers to the trials and tribulations of a typical day in the life of a dog. But if you listen a little closer, you'll see that all those animal instincts and nasty habits that you're average canine tends to have without apology, can also be applied to humans. Henderson cross-references this stuff in such a clever way that I couldn't help but laugh from seeing myself and some of my doggy tendencies in some of these songs.

But, getting back to the music: From the first tune on, this cd will grab you by the lobes of your ears and suck you right in. The opener "Hole Diggin" is an instrumental played at a fast and furious pace with a lot of SRV style to it. After this it only gets better with the slow burnin' "Fence Climbin' Blues". Man, I can't emphasize enough how good a player Henderson is. He's got about 3 minutes of solo guitar work in this song that left me sittin' with my headphones on and my jaw locked on open. Technically, with his jazz background and all, there may not be a better guitar player playing today. And I'm not overstating the fact. I've had this cd for a while, and it never ceases to amaze me. As for the rest of the music, you get the idea, it's all good. And he even does a finger snappin' cover of "Hound Dog" that's enough to make any dog do a 4 paw strut across the floor. The only thing else I can say is get your grubby claws on this and don't let go. "Dog Party" definitely gets an enthusiastic 5 barks up.

Patrick Earley