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[Off The Record]
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Alabama Frank
(Black Rose)

Guitarist Alabama Frank O’Brien has been playing with various blues and rootsy rock outfits around Boston since the ’80s, and this solo debut revels in his long-time interest in six-string instrumentals. His arrangements of classic surf numbers like " Telstar " and " Walk, Don’t Run " are faithful right down to the clean, sweet twang of his Stratocaster and the gentle dips of its whammy bar. But he’s also got a flair for faithful executions of jazz and pop numbers, which here range from " Apache " to the theme from TV’s Perry Mason and Santo & Johnny’s beautiful " Sleepwalk. " So for the most part this CD offers few surprises, instead yielding the pleasures of a solid guitarist re-creating satisfying melodies — a blissful little ’50s/’60s time capsule full of gentle vibrato and light, airy tones. O’Brien’s own compositions are also aural comfort food. His tribute " Brian Wilson’s Blues " recasts the kind of simple melody and harmonically fertile chords that were the Beach Boys’ stock into a minor key, putting a nice melancholy spin on their sound. The only surprise is a rude one: three cliché’d vocal tunes that are bar-band throwaways.


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