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Paul Gilbert: Vibrato

Tunes triumph over chops on shredder’s twelfth album.

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.

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a regular guest on Times Radio and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.