Guitarist Andy Susemihl has been something of an éminence grise (maybe that should be Macht hinter dem Thron? – Ed) on the German hard rock and heavy metal scenes for some while. A former member of both Sinner and Udo Dirkschneideider‘s U.D.O. in the eighties, he’s also recorded and released no less than six solo albums as well as hitching his wagon to US rockers Bangalore Choir and, latterly, their singer David Reece.
In 2020 he’s back with a seven track mini album designed as an Amuse-bouche to tickle the tastebuds ahead of a full length album set for release in the (Northern) Autumn. And very nice it is too, comprised as it is of a selection of laid-back rockers, tasteful covers and a jazzy instrumental.
Burning Man kicks off proceedings, a gentle piece of radio rock not unlike the recent solo work of Electric Guitars man Søren Andersen; Across the Pond is similarly gentle, Susemihl’s slightly freyed tones adding a nice edge to the glossy solo and woozy riffage. So far, so undemanding.
Next track Remedy ratchets things up a notch, stridently funky in it’s strutting approach and benefiting from a rumbling bass presence (which may or may not belong to former Accept four stringer Peter Baltes – no credits are given on the review copy as to who appears on which track), but the real jewel in the crown here is Susemihl’s slowhanded take on Curtis Mayfield‘s sixties soul classic People Get Ready.
Taking Jeff Beck‘s version from 1985’s Flash as his template (which featured Rod Stewart on vocals), Susemihl sticks to the feel of Beck’s version but adds his own delicious solo to the track to stamp his identity on it. It’s fine stuff, and if Susemihl can’t quite match Stewart’s vocal he’s more than a match for Beck’s beautifully restrained guitarwork.
The second half of the record is a bit more downbeat than the first; Crazy gives the feeling that a female voice such as Sam Brown might give it the emotional heft it’s crying out for – Susemihl is just a bit too laid back vocally to portray the intensity of the lyric fully, whilst One More For The Road is a mournful, introspective blues that suits the vocal style of our protagonist perfectly but is perhaps just a little too heavy on the wry world weariness but does contain another superbly emotive solo wherein Susemihl digs deep and really impresses.
Final track The Beauty And The Mihl is the sort of track you’d hear an awful lot of in the eighties and nineties in the lifts of the ‘better’ chain hotels Worldwide; if you’re a guitarist you’ll love to hear a master craftsman going through the gears, if you’re not you’ll take it or leave it as mood dictates…
A mixed bag, then, but as a tool to pique the interest ahead of a more involved release later in the year this certainly does the job.
Burning Man is out on June 12th.