Paul Gilbert: Vibrato

Tunes triumph over chops on shredder’s twelfth album.

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When a guitar virtuoso releases an LP named after a fingering technique, you understandably brace for widdle-hell. Paul Gilbert, though, has always had more of a twinkle in his eye than lesser fret-manglers, and Vibrato offers three factors most overlook: vocals, actual songs and a slug of surreal humour.

Take the opener, on which Gilbert interrupts the proggy shuffle to rant about jailing his enemies. Likewise, the title track has a winning groove and daft robot vocal, while Bivalve Blues cheekily rips off Owner Of A Lonely Heart before morphing into Gary Moore power-blues.

There’s lickage alright, but almost as much keyboard, and you rarely feel like Gilbert’s band are just meat in the room. A couple of the later instrumentals grate somewhat, and the closing straight of live covers feels tacked-on, but Vibrato is good fun, both for leathery men who make their livings adjusting truss rods, and the general populace.