TIP OF THE MONTH:WOW! This is a genuine cracker. I'm so pleased that I have the honor to review such a rock album. When hearing the start I thought this was inevitably going to be an album full of pleasing unending guitar solos, but track four gives us at last a keyboard solo and out of the 12 tracks only 3 are vocal, but even these are so good I wondered why most of the tracks are instrumental? The solos are crisp and full of dexterious fingered playing, sometimes melodious and other times driving from high to low, up and down. Some Blues is mixed in, then Acoustic Guitar as well as really Hard Rock. The whole mixture is easy to describe in this way: Take a thick piece of Jadis, mix in a bit of Liquid Tension Experiment or some Hard Prog and a bit of Camel. Did I forget something? Oh yes, the cover version of Hackett's "Jacuzzi" is fantastic.HOT BUY RECOMMENDATION!
...This music is, as you might easily guess, close to Camel's or Steve Hackett's (long solos of fluid guitars) but also Steve Hillage's circa " Green" ( glissandos, dreamy atmospheres). A must!
The third solo album from Stevie Adams, Camera Obscura (released 2004), welcomes two guest musicians and another change in line-up from his previous album, Vertigo. Desha Dunnahoe remains the main keyboard player and also takes responsibility for bass. Karen Teperberg takes over on drums and percussion, whilst Stevie, naturally, is on guitars and, wait for it... Mellotron! Camera Obscura literally means 'dark room' when translated from the Latin. It is not often wise to read too much into album titles but in this instance, either by chance or deliberation, Camera Obscura fits rather well. Some tracks are on the dark side, whilst others create an image, not always upside down.Having recently listened to Stevie's first two solo albums, I was a little disappointed when I heard Camera Obscura for the first time. Clearly it was good but I was expecting more. I decided to give my ears a rest and come back to it the next day when, as if by magic, my expectations were met, which goes to show that perseverance can reap rewards. In fact, there are some brilliant tracks on this one. The opener, instrumental In A World With No Sky, is a barnstormer, great melody, slightly distorted electric guitar (do I really hear the 'Pearl & Dean' riff in there at one point??) along Satriani lines. A slightly dark opening riff to Car 333 (a track dedicated to his father who used to race cars at a speedway) progresses in a style reminiscent of Martin Barre to a degree, in ZZ Top mode minus the beards. Whether it is the use of Mellotron in Quicksand that makes me think of Hackett initially, I'm not sure, but the pounding beat adds a touch of menace to this heavy track. Karen Teperberg is, without doubt, a class drummer. Desha captures that Dave Sinclair keyboard sound on Seven Four, a track with some nice chord changes and motoring guitar.The Door Stays Open, dedicated to the late Peter Bardens, has a delightful bluesy flavour, Steve Mattern, Stevie's new keyboard player, doing some nice things with his Hammond organ. Silent Divide steps into the Camel/Hackett camp and is the first of three songs with vocals. There's no mistaking the Hackett influence on the next track as it is one of Hackett's tunes, Jacuzzi. Guest musician, Mary Dagani, a classical flautist and Hackett fan, fills John Hackett's shoes admirably as Stevie does Steve's. Excellent version.Perelandra (not to be confused with Glass Hammer's Perelandra - this onewas written by Stevie) in one of those 'spine tingling' instrumentals which are both beautiful yet eerie. Only the most insensitive of folk would be able to maintain a dry eye when this is performed live. A classic track for sure. Gnomes Uncombed sees Stevie return to his Satriani style and is good driving music assuming you like to drive fast. Fragile (not to be confused by Yes' Fragile!) has a slight Caravan feel about it bar the twiddley guitar pieces. The second of the vocal tracks sees Desha add some emphasis on flute here and there. Belgian guitarist, Philippe Thibaut, 'duals' with Stevie on Diminished Capacity, which will delight any guitar fan.Camera Obscura has many highlights but a personal favourite has to be Wisteria. As you may have guessed, there is more than a hint of Camel in this one in both composition style and Stevie's vocals, helped once again by Desha on flute. The main guitar riff just lodges in the mind so that days later you are left wondering where you heard it. Or is that just old age creeping up on me? At just under five minutes, Wisteria is too short in my opinion and I hope that Stevie will one day re-visit it and come up with an extended version.Camera Obscura disappointing? Absolutely not!
Stunning guitar solos...nice keyboard sequences...great soaring guitar lead...nice acoustic guitar....I thoroughly enjoyed this album and its one I will be listening a lot more to. If you are lovers of good prog rock, Camel, Pink Floyd, then I am sure this will appeal.
Guitarist Stevie Adams' second solo outing, Vertigo, was originally released in 1999 but is re-released in February 2005. For this album, Stevie is joined by Camel legend, Andy Ward on drums and percussion, with Desha Dunnahoe (keyboards, flute) and bassist Susan Lyster, enabling the man himself to concentrate solely on the guitar work.Unlike his first solo album, Maiden Voyage, Vertigo is totally without vocals but interestingly opens with the track Maiden Voyage II, which is again based on the melody of the original but with a slightly more aggressive approach. Maiden Voyage was superb and Maiden Voyage II is equally brilliant. Stevie's compositions and style of playing on Vertigo maintains the hint of Camel and Andy Latimer but his increased speed and aggressiveness of playing on the title track, Vertigo and Wash The Watch leans towards Satriani.Tapped sees Stevie let rip in a Satriani-meets-Hackett manner, with Ward and Lyster unobtrusively maintaining the rhythm (unlike a lot of drummers, Andy Ward invariably dons the cap of the orchestral musician rather than the soloist, enhancing rather than dominating the music). Nice flute section from Desha Dunnahoe too on this track and it would have been nice to hear a little more of her flautist skills. Stevie's Camel influence is again highlighted in the track Tales Of The Flying Cat compositionally, with particular attention to the keyboard pieces expertly executed by Desha.To top it all, Stevie closes the album with his (1999) version of, arguably, one of the best prog tracks of all time - Lunar Sea. Needless to say, Andy Ward is in his element on this well known Camel masterpiece. Each time I listened to this version, I easily forgot that it was not actually Camel performing even though it is not a carbon copy of the original. The intensity and liveliness of the music remains intact and is a great tribute to both Camel and Peter Bardens.Highly recommended.
-Hairless Heart V
This is one of those CDs I got blind in the mail. The name seemed sorta familiar, then it clicked that he played guitar with Peter Bardens in Mirage. Stevie is a breezy, precise player in the Frank Gambale/Joe Satriani school, only with more depth and melodic panache than either. The dozen tunes on "Camera Obscura" run the gamut of feels while falling into, for lack of a better term, jazz prog. The mood never gets too heavy, and there's a sort of California laid back attitude to everything, exemplified in the bright, peppy cover of Steve Hackett's "Jacuzzi."The female rhythm section of bassist Desha Dunnahoe and drummer Karen Teperberg (from B.L.U.E.'s Chris Botti's jazz band) are tight as anything and help propel Stevie's fluid riffs. 9 of the 12 tracks are instrumentals, and Stevie's vocals on the other 3 are very pleasant. For prog fans and guitar hero lovers, this is quite a delightful disc!
This is a guitar showcase for a valued versatile musician. His name is Stevie Adams and he is from the Los Angeles area of California. He is a very tasty guitarist and can be flashy at times but he also has great taste and chooses his spots well to "show off". He knows he is a "virtuoso" but he's also got control of his ego to make some wonderful songs and add tension and dynamics to a genre where these things are lacking.The all female rhythm section is excellent and adds wonderful support to Stevie's tunes and ideas. The bass and some keys are played by Desha Dunnahoe. The drums/percussion are ably manned by Karen Teperberg. Steve Mattern play keys on track 5. Mary Dagani plays flutes on track 7. Twylo plays electric and acoustic guitars, strings and mellotron as well as doing all the singing of which there are 3 songs with vocals.All these songs are well written slightly commercial progressive rock with some influences from Camel circa Bardens and also some Steve Hackett and vocally to Eric Johnson. There are some orchestral samples used which were taken from the "Vienna symphonic library" as done by "Garritan Orchestral Strings" by Gary Garritan.I think that track 5, "The Door Stays Open", is a very nice shuffle rock beat and wonderfully placed after the opening onslaught of the first 4 tunes.This has the added keys of Steve Mattern and works nicely. Track 7, "Jacuzzi" is the Hackett cover song from Defector and is done up real nice with the addition of some exquisite flute playing by Mary Dagani. Very nice song and ethereal as well.The song, "seven four" is a tribute/homage of sorts to Pete Bardens who Stevie played with and toured before Pete's passing on. This tune has a nice driving beat with Stevie's guitar playing doubled and singled melody lead lines, then quieting down for some articulate finger picking bits. Very nice loud and quiet parts that keep this song moving along at a nice clip with added synth solos as well. Extremely tasty and well done.Over all this has just about all the right pieces in place for a very well done and tasteful piece of guitar prog rock. The vocal pieces are very well done and seem to be perfectly placed for a bit of a breather or respite.So this is an excellent CD of wonderful tunes that vary and flow very well showing Stevie's songwriting and arranging skills as well as his spot on playing.
With a guitar tone that's sweet and clear, Stevie Adams astounds on a dozen lyrical and melodically gorgeous compositions full humbucking delight.Aside from Stevie's obvious guitar mastery he's also an accomplished singer and keyboardist, using these skills to great effect throughout. The overall vibe is quite lush with symphonic passages built on Mellotron and synthesized strings. All is aided by the steady and sure support of Desha Dunnahoe on bass and keyboards and Karen Teperberg on drums and percussion.The album has has a pervasively spacey and ethereal presence, with brief departures like the bluesy "The Door Stays Open" - featuring exceptional organ work by guest Steve Mattern - and the Steve Hackett-penned "Jacuzzi". The latter contains light and airy flute accompaniment by Mary Dagani. Stevie lends his own soft and silky vocals to "Silent Divide".Stevie Adams has created a work here that is indeed "guitarcentric" but should appeal to those of all instrumental persuasions.
In the course of his rather long musical career, American guitarist and composer Stevie Adams worked with Kit Watkins (Happy The Man, Camel), Andy Ward (Camel), Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra), Steve Lukather (Toto), Pye Hastings (Caravan), Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) and some other renowned musicians. Most of all, however, he is probably known as former member of Pete Bardens' Mirage (Pete's primary project after he quit Camel) and as a solo performer. Stevie has three solo albums to his credit: "Maiden Voyage", "Vertigo" and "Camera Obscura", which was released last November.Analysis: Steve Hackett, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are mentioned in the CD press kit as the best points of comparisons with regard to Stevie's creation, while in my view, the latter two aren't that appropriate, at least judging by this album. Stevie isn't much about to accentuate his guitar technique, appearing above all as a thinking composer and arranger, which I value much higher than some particular skills in performance. Besides, he also plays keyboards, preferring the ARP string ensemble and the Mellotron, both of which are much to my taste as well. Generally, traditional synthesizers weren't used here as widely as the vintage keys, organ and piano included, which is another positive addition to the piggy bank of this material's virtues. Considering the album on the whole, it can be said that the sound is drawn from numerous styles: both, guitar and symphonic, kinds of Art-Rock, Hard Rock, Prog-Metal, Blues, quasi Jazz-Fusion, but all from within superb compositions featuring plenty of changes and fresh ideas. Some of the music comes with the features that point Mr. Hackett out as Stevie's teacher in absentia, so it's no surprise to hear the rendering of Jacuzzi on this album, with solos of guitar, ARP and flute sharing the lead in most cases. One more instrumental, Seven Four, and also two of the three songs present, Wisteria and Silent Divide, can also be referred to that kind of guitar / symphonic Art-Rock, which is typical only for such Hackett's albums as "Spectral Mornings", "Defector" and "Highly Strung". (These are notable for keyboardist Nick Magnus's noteworthy contribution to the arrangements.) Wisteria is simply a magical song, very inspired, with colorful patterns painted by guitar, flute, piano and the Mellotron. Silent Divide is the one with brilliant solos of acoustic guitar, as if dancing around the central themes all through the piece, and such a novelty could have not remained unnoticed. The instrumentals Quicksand and Perelandra are kindred compositions. Somewhat of a symphonic Blues Rock, with very memorable solos of electric guitar, Hammond and ARP, is the essence of Fragile, which is the remaining song in the set and is very intriguing. Something barely imperceptible in the music makes it akin to In the Evening or even Carouselambra from Led Zeppelin's most symphonic (and probably most underrated) "In Through the Out Door". The rockier Car 333, and also Perelandra, are a bit more straightforward than the other tracks, but are hardly less impressive. The remaining three instrumental compositions: In a World With No Sky, Gnomes Uncombed and Diminished Capacity are probably most diverse and innovative. As a last resort, I am more than certain that they best of all suit my personal taste:-) The music is Art-Rock meets Cathedral Metal with real heavy, meaty and mesmerizing guitar riffs, two dueling guitar solos and lush passages of string ensemble (except Diminished Capacity).Conclusion. Unlike some other artists operating in this territory, Stevie knows when enough is enough, which is part of what makes "Camera Obscura" interesting for me, and I'm above all a progressive music lover. Stevie Adams is a true artist and is definitely an artist worthy of further investigation. Highly recommended!
Stevie Adams has been around for a few years in the world of music; especially as a session musician he is much respected. In the beginning of the 90’s he joined Pete Bardens (Camel), with whom he later formed the band Mirage (along with that other ex-Camel member Andy Ward), which transformed into Pete Bardens’ Mirage. With “Camera Obscura”, his third solo album, he delivers a fine album with a lot of variation, which may best be compared to Steve Hackett’s work. The band is composed of Stevie and two young ladies (!): Desha Dunnahoe (bass, keys) – who already worked with him in Pete Bardens’ Mirage – and Karen Teperberg (drums). They get some support from a couple of guest musicians.Most of the album is instrumental, and Stevie proves that this can be quite interesting as well. It all starts brilliantly with “In A World With No Sky”, on which an “X-File”-ish synthesizer tune is reinforced with powerful guitar chords. On the bluesy “The Door Stays Open”, the trio get some backup by keyboard player Steve Mattern, who puts down a very prominent Hammond sound. This song is dedicated to the late Pete Bardens, and - not surprisingly - has some similarities to Camel. The cover of Steve Hackett’s “Jacuzzi” is also very well done; guest flutist Mary Dagani does a wonderful job here. On “Perelandra”, Stevie continues in typical Hackett-style. The Vai/Satriani-like “Gnomes Uncombed”, shows Stevie can shred like the best, something also evident in “Diminished Capacity”, on which he duels with Belgian guest guitarist Philippe Thibaut.On top of all this instrumental beauty, there are a few songs which feature vocals, and those turn out to be the biggest surprises on the album; Stevie has a very pleasant voice. “Silent Divide” could have come right off an Alan Parsons album, not in the least because his voice fits right in the Parsons mold. “Fragile” is a slow and emotional song, with nice lyrics and a fine guitar solo. Save the best for last, Stevie must have thought: the fantastic “Wisteria” is again a bit Camel-like and rounds off the album perfectly.Finally another guitarist whose main concern is NOT showing off his tricks. He is a fantastic and versatile player, but he also writes great songs and he leaves enough room for the other instruments. That’s the way it is supposed to be. A fine album!Tracklist1. In A World With No Sky2. Car 3333. Quicksand4. Seven Four5. The Door Stays Open6. Silent Divide 7. Jacuzzi8. Perelandra9. Gnomes Uncombed10. Fragile11. Diminished Capacity12. WisteriaDiscography1. Maiden Voyage (1997)2. Vertigo (1999)3. Camera Obscura (2004)