The Left-Handed Guitar Players That Changed Music By John Engel
Born in Bristol England in 1952, an enthusiastic lefty guitarist, he was initially self-taught and played his first guitars upside down like Jimi Hendrix, a premier influence. In New York he studied classical guitar with Winslow Browning. Jeff Beck, Wes Montgomery, Keith Richards, Julian Bream and Django Reinhardt are amongst his guitar heroes.
You might remember the spirited guitar lines that he wrote for the hit single "Starry Eyes"; his production/arrangements for The Records debut album (aka 'Shades In Bed') in 1979. After contributing to recordings with Henry McCullough, Carlene Carter, Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe, Alan Wilder and many others, Huw left London for NYC in 1981. Since then he's worked with an eclectic group of musicians including Roseanne Cash, Graham Parker, Pete Seeger, Charlie Giordano, Steve Holley, Andy Bassford, The Temptations. Many recall his years with David Johansen - the two co-wrote 'This Is The Worst Beer I Ever Had', later recorded on 'Buster's Happy Hour'. Rolling Stone deemed it "the drinking song to end all drinking songs".
Robert Palmer, critic for The New York Times rated Huw's first solo release 'Guitarophilia', "BEST EP of 1984" and noted: "… most hired guns don't show exceptional song writing talent, every song counts. If Gower's next release isn't on a major there is no justice in the music business!" - inspiring the creation of TCB Heaven, his own label, as an outlet for his next two albums, 'Ile de France' and 'In Pursuit of Excellence'! ('Guitarophilia' sold out, sometimes it appears for sale on the net.)
A reviewer of 'Ile' said: "Gower's album combines the influences of pop with soulful jazzy folk elements. His subtle textures bring to mind Mark Knopfler or Peter Green. Besides Richard Thompson or Donovan, compare him to Elvis Costello. Some artists try to be too eclectic, but Gower mixes it together like a tasty margarita; smooth going down, but has some kick". Part of its' charm is that Huw cut it live in Hendrix's old rehearsal studio, with few overdubs. 11-year-old Gillian Gower, a one-take wonder, sings the title track. 'She Makes Me Feel So Bourgeois' a favorite (inspiration Gower/Johansen); the poignant 'All The King's Horses', a lament for the horrific murder of his student, and the social politics of "This Could Be Heaven", "God Is A Woman", and "Abandon Ship". Ace players Charles 'Honeyman' Otis and Dave Hofstra make for a fine rhythm section. Surprise ending: Huw transcribes for guitar two Erik Satie pieces. "Gower knows his way around a guitar", CD Baby said. "This recording (is) multi cultural: transverses all those archetypes in the way a seasoned player would prefer to flavor and expand rather than confine his musical surroundings".
'In Pursuit of Excellence' mixes in more of his renowned rock guitar that admirer's of his guitar prowess have come to expect. John Engel, who wrote a chapter in 'Uncommon Sound: The Left Handed Guitar Players That Changed Music' about Huw, saying, "…here too, the songwriting is high caliber: nods to his 1960's acid rock and the purified sounds of 80's alternative rock like The Police, making a thoroughly personal and coherent body of work. Guitar players like Elliot Easton and Huw have fused the influences of 60's pop to distill a clear, succinct and melodic approach to guitar playing".
"French Girls" began in London, a collaboration with Simon Climie and Alan Platt, the song rocks and , oft performed live. "Lightning Over Montauk" professes love for the East End of Long Island; "Palm Of Your Hand", a glance back at the trouble that ruined The Records; "The Circus Is In Town" references a favorite road trip (The 1978 Be Stiff Tour); "Poor Kurt" mourns the loss of Cobain and Lennon; and in the title track, "In Pursuit', he notes the irony of how one can "stand on line for welfare and food stamps and shake the hand of a President."
Engel ends the chapter saying, "If his own music was better distributed there is no doubt that Gower would reach the ears and hearts of a large number of adult music lovers, who favor an intimate vibe and thoughtful, multi-layered compositions".
Please support this artist: order CDs at the lowest price via www.huwgower.com. Audio samples are available here or on www.myspace.com/huwgower.