Dave Uhrich

Dave Uhrich

Red Light Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/26/2000

Full disclosure: Not only do I know Dave Uhrich personally, but I took guitar lessons from him back in the '80s.

As I've mentioned in my review of Change, I used to watch Dave before our lessons began as he'd show me some of the things he was working on. My jaw would literally be scraping the floor of the cramped practice room as he did tricks that I can still only dream about reproducing. When he gave me a copy of his demo tape, it was like receiving the Holy Grail in my hands.

In 1992, Uhrich got his big break and was signed to a record contract. Yet no matter how many times I've listened to Dave Uhrich over the years, I've always found myself a bit disappointed at the album.

I still think part of it is that I'm biased in favor of the demo tape. "Fury," "Quarter To Three" and "Paradise Island" all appear on that tape, and the new studio versions always seemed to lose something in the translation for me. Oh, don't get me wrong, these versions still show that Uhrich had the power to be the next guitar god a la Joe Satriani or Steve Vai.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But the more I've listened to Dave Uhrich in the last year, the more I'm convinced the problem really is with violinist Jerry Goodman, who guests on several of the songs. Often, on numbers like "Blue Rose" and "Majestic Solitude," the focus shifts from Uhrich - who's supposed to be the star of the show - to Goodman. I highly doubt this was intentional, but when I start hearing more of the electric and acoustic violin work than Uhrich's guitar flash, I know things are in trouble.

Problem number two is the inclusion of Chicago broadcaster Kevin Matthews in the guise of two of his characters. His short appearance as Jim Shorts on the opening of "Fury" isn't too bad, but the intro was hardly necessary. But Matthews's appearance as Devon on "Take It Home Boy" - already a song suffering from poor songwriting and uninspired playing - lowers the song to new levels.

This all makes it sound like Dave Uhrich isn't worth checking out. This is hardly the case. Tracks like "City Heat," "Fury" and "Paradise Island" all demonstrate the absolute mastery that Uhrich has over the six-string, making it produce sounds you probably thought weren't possible from a guitar. The guitar-only work "Kristin" demonstrates that Uhrich knows how to turn down the intensity without losing the power of the performance. Likewise, "Rondo In D" allows Uhrich to explore the acoustic guitar - one thing I'd really like to see him do more of.

In a way, it almost feels like Uhrich is trying too hard to prove himself at times. When all is said and done, he's a damned fine rock guitarist - and that's nothing to be ashamed about. There's also no problem exploring softer sides and acoustic sides of your playing. But to try and expand into the worlds of funk ("Take It Home Boy") and country ("Down Home" - admittedly just a song that Uhrich wanted to have some fun with), methinks that he's trying to take too large a bite of the musical pie.

Dave Uhrich is not the easiest album to find anymore (Red Light closed its doors a few years ago), but if you stumble across a copy, it's still well worth your time to check out. Just make sure to step carefully on some areas.

Rating: B-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Red Light Records, and is used for informational purposes only.