guitar album with mass appeal

The Adventures of Bumblefoot (Shrapnel)
Ron Thal

By Kory Wilcoxson

Instrumental guitar albums are definitely an acquired taste. Unless you are a student of the craft or are just particularly fond of guitar music, most such albums hold little of interest.

You can't accuse Ron Thal of not trying to capture the attention of the layman. With The Adventures of Bumblefoot, he takes a quirky, offbeat approach and comes up with an album that is hard to dislike.

Thal is some sort of wunderkind, doing everything from producing and mixing the album to designing the cover art. A quick glance at the song titles -- "Orf," "Strawberry Footrot," and my favorite, "Malignant Carbuncle" -- gives you the idea that Thal is either painfully creative or not all there.

Your money is safe on either bet. Thal is a master of guitar, and can hook and jive with the best of them. He keeps the album from monotony by changing styles, from straight hard-rock to Spanish-flavored flamenco to a cute little acoustic number.

Thal makes no bones about being weird, but everybody needs a gimmick. Thal's is good enough to make Bumblefoot rise above the din.