It is always interesting for me, when reviewing music, to come across musicians from North London, the same part of this great city as me. Take for example my review of ‘Dave Plotel’s ’latest EP entitled ‘Rock Jimi’. Dave is a super fine guitarist who is not only extremely accomplished over a wide range of different musical genres but who manipulates his instrument with much skill and a great depth of feeling. Throughout the entire EP, he demonstrates amazing deftness with both the vocal and instrumental arrangements on the four quite differently styled self-penned song arrangements. My grateful thanks to Dave Plotel for the footnotes.
Whilst the name ‘Dave Plotel’, specifically that is, for most ‘Progressive Rock’ aficionados, might not be a name that rolls directly from the tongue outside of North London and the music business itself. He has, without a doubt, built an impressive memoire including being involved with his twin brother Jon (bass guitar) on the iconic album ‘Marvel World of Icarus’ upon which Dave is credited with the guitar solo on his own track composition entitled ‘Spiderman’
In the beginning and pursuing their music career together, Dave and his twin brother Jon (RIP) embarked on a trail of playing with various local bands in the clubs, pubs and gigging around the military bases /RAF stations in and around London and eventually touring the UK and Europe. However, the Plotel twins did not come as a single unit and eventually they went their separate ways Dave being sought out by the pop band ‘The Real Thing’ and Jon linking up with ‘Roger Chapman’ and Streetwalkers.
Subsequently, Dave has worked as a session guitarist and bass player on many rock gospel music albums, playing guitar in a Jazz Fusion band and forming his own jazz inclined trio in London. Expanding his interest in writing his own material was a natural progression and as such has produced a catalogue of ambient music as well as 4 CDs of songs ranging from smooth jazz to funk and jazz fusion.
As mentioned earlier ‘Dave Plotel's’ latest release, an EP entitled ‘Rock Jimi, is the subject of this review, and was composed and produced entirely by him in his London studio. Such a solo approach is partly the result of social distancing in these uncertain times. However, Dave’s aptitude to have mastered many different musical paths over the years stands him well for such ‘solo ventures’ where he has complete control over the final compositions and the associated musical arrangements. On this particular EP he has purposely gone back to his ‘heavy rock and blues roots’, a move giving him the opportunity to pay homage to the guitar heroes of his youth and in fact a self-indulged trip down a musical memory lane and especially recollecting the excitement of his early days and experiences.
‘Rock Jimi’ is an EP that could be considered as the ultimate ‘guitar chord’ extravaganza, for it is saturated with both piercing and delicate guitar manipulations together with oodles of delicious vocal harmonies. The entire affair executed with bundles of energy and delivered with much panache.
Track 1 In ‘Flyin’ High’ and although ‘Dave’ gives a distinct nod in the direction of Led Zeppelin it is ultimately slanted towards the smooth jazz chord progressions of Steely Dan. Bubbling away in the mix sharp staccato bass lines dart around the more sedate guitar generated keyboard effects. The superb vocals and counter melodies especially have a wonderful ‘Donald Fagan’ ring and are well measured to fit into the subtle time changes
Note from Dave- I’d been given the lyrics for ‘Flyin High’ and the music appeared from nowhere - I had a big need to let rip and went out on a limb with my vocal on this one. It took a long time to record with its wall of sound vocal harmonies - I wanted to it sound as live as possible, with an unpredictable guitar solo.
Track 2 The Pony Blues -Sees a slower change of pace incorporating a more funky rhythmical approach and a particularly lusciously tuneful ‘hey-hoe’ melodic guitar break. Well worked out dream-like vocals that again resemble elements of ‘Steely Dan’.
Note From Dave -The Pony Blues is a wry look at life and about the strength and faith to carry on when life takes a turn for the worse - I used a lot of different textures to lift it out of the usual blues format.
Track 3 – ‘Rock Jimi’ – Incorporating slices of up-tempo sheading guitar overlaid upon a platform of intense and fascinating percussive lines coupled with forceful driving fuzz guitar. A catchy song with repetitive lyrics.
Note from Dave. Rock Jimi is simply a shout out from my inner kid about Jimi Hendrix and his contemporaries, such luminaries as Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Larry Carlton. It is an expression of the Blues/Rock side of my persona and reflects the early influence of these rock stars who illuminated my earliest years. On this track, I played my late twin’s treasured second-best bass
Track 4 -Sweet Times Blues. Lovely mellow harmony vocals accompanied with the most beautifully relaxing bluesy guitar. Save the last dance for me.
Note from Dave -Sweet Times Blues is just what it says, a nostalgic look back at the romances and longings of the end of childhood - the emotions are reflected in some contained guitar soloing.' This track was added to the album at the last minute as it had a good response on social media and Youtube - Jonny Liebeck plays keys on this track, adding to the overall soundscape.
The final say from Dave “It occurred to me that maybe our gifts whatever they may be, pruning roses, making stew etc. Our doing that elevates the spirit, hopefully, someone will share that joy with you, but that gift is for you, it elevates and connects with what is.
This Ep is my Blues/Rocky side, sometimes one needs to release energy. 'Genre' tends to have restrictions /perimeters, and I'm not swayed by suggestions to the contrary, it hasn't worked.
Depending on how I'm feeling when immersed in compositions I chuck out rational thought and just plough in and do it, hoping that someone will connect and enjoy. This is different from the other stuff, and I'll probably drift to the other stuff again, but expect more changes, take a risk to delve into unknown territory.”