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Jack Rose - Raag Manifestos

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Artist: Jack Rose

Album: Raag Manifestos

Label: VHF

Review date: Dec. 7, 2004

Drink a couple shots of neat Kentucky whiskey and see if you don’t slur raag and rock into the same guttural syllable. While I can’t comment knowledgably upon Jack Rose’s substance intake during the sessions that comprise Raag Manifestos, his third LP of acoustic steel-stringed guitar music, he certainly managed to mash those sounds together so solidly that they bond into an entity heavy enough to exert it’s own gravitational pull. That he does this with neither an amplified instrument, nor any formal training in Indian classical music, only heightens his accomplishment.

With each successive record, Rose has stepped further from the Mount Rushmore-sized shadows cast by John Fahey, Robbie Basho and Sandy Bull. Sure, you can hear their influence in his choices of instrument and material; and like them, he plays steel-stringed acoustic guitar, and blends American blues and folk styles with Eastern and Western elements.

But Rose, unlike the rest, came to finger picking fairly late in his personal musical evolution. He grew up listening to classic rock and graduated to punk without ever cutting ties with his old school. Pelt, the band in which he came of age as a player, used the punk’s anything-goes ethic as permission to use Indian instruments, as well as minimalist forms, without going through any lengthy dues-paying process.

There’s no denying Rose’s command of the guitar. On “Tower Of Babel,” for example, his nuanced articulation and resonant tone combine to stir the emotions. But he hasn’t lost that punk attitude. Not only does Rose make good on the record’s name, staking his claim farther into the hinterland of the Indo-blues territory any of his Takoma forebears did, he does it with unsurpassed aggression. His slashing attack on “Black Pearls From The River” and brutal chording on “Hart Crane’s Old Boyfriends” is pure rock and roll, and it’s the weight in his playing that makes this album stand out in a year packed with solo acoustic guitar records.

Vinyl is available from Eclipse Records.

By Bill Meyer

Other Reviews of Jack Rose

Kensington Blues

Dr. Ragtime and His Pals / Self-Titled

I Do Play Rock and Roll

Jack Rose & The Black Twig Pickers

Luck in the Valley

Read More

View all articles by Bill Meyer

Find out more about VHF

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