It would take a helluva lot to keep ex-Mountain guitarist Leslie West down. He has a way of conquering his demons and coming to terms with his misfortunes through music. It’s not so much the songwriting, rather the skilled, emotional intensity of the man’s guitar playing that wins you over every time. Even in a melody’s mediocrity, his guitar can save the song from itself.

It’s all evident in Still Climbing. The guitar solos throughout the album are a pleasure to be stereo-blasted. When mixed with great hard ‘n heavy blues like “Busted, Disgusted or Dead” or “Hatfield or McCoy,” West’s solos will bring on sheer joy to any guitar geek.

The albums starts off with an explosion with the balls-to-the-wall, guitar amplification of “Dyin’ Since the Day I Was Born” — as close to metal as you’ll ever hear West — but the best is actually at the near end. It is the restrained intensity of an underrated beauty like “Long Red” — busting at the seams with energy, it is the restraint that keeps the groove of the song alive and well.

Leslie West, the Mountain man himself, is alive and well — and ‘still climbing.’


Label: Provogue