What’s Next?

I started listening to this album to get ready to review it and I’m now on my third time through it for the day, taking in the soaring guitar solo on “Something’s Comin’ Our Way,” the last track on side one. Oh man, forget Guitar Hero or any of that video game nonsense. Get a REAL guitar and try and match the notes in this brain-melting solo.

This album’s perfect. It’s got a 10. I don’t skip anything on it because I’ve got to hear every single note on this platter. Why rate it at the beginning of the review after discussing just one song in the middle? It’s in the style of the album. Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush meant no-nonsense Rock and Roll. So why piddle around with a lot of metaphors and junk like that? This is Rock with a capital R, at its very finest.

Oh man, that solo… GO FRANK GO!!! The rest of the band is in top form on this album and it’s a non-stop invitation to get into a hot rod and let the right foot just take over and do what it does best.

That’s if you got the vinyl or the CD version with bonus tracks. If you see an offer to buy the CD made by the Black Rose label, avoid it at all costs. The sound is terrible on that. Me, I got my MP3s ripped from vinyl and they sound delicious.

This is a guitar lover’s album. If you’re some kid combing his hair over half his face in skinny jeans thinking you know a thing or two about making noise because you own a Led Zeppelin shirt, you need to hear this album and recalibrate your perception of the world accordingly, particularly in the music department. You could lose the hairstyle and clothing next, adopting the flannel ‘n’ jeans combo popular among the guitar heroes of the late 1970s. Then you’d have no excuse but to learn how to play that axe and make it cry and scream.

And you could do so much worse than to have Frank Marino as your Guitar God. You could also do so much worse than to learn what Heavy Metal used to be by listening to this disc. I’m sick of cookie monsters and shriekers with monotonous rhythm sections. Metal used to mean big, tough music that sounded great as it made your ears bleed and killed your lawn. Now Metal mostly just upsets parents because they expected their kids to have better taste than that. Frank Marino is no poser in makeup and hairspray. He does his own singing, but he lets his guitar do the talking.

Hang on just a minute… I’m in the long jam that starts four minutes into “Loved By You.” Be right back after I’m done respecting the music. Oh yeah, Frank, make that guitar earn its paycheck…

All right, I’m back for a while… but I’m going to have to check out before the powerhouse double shot of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame” and a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Mona” closes out the album’s set list… and that’s what it seems like. This doesn’t sound like it took a bunch of takes to get things right. What’s Next plays straight through, like the band showed up in the studio, played a 43-minute concert, and then packed up and went home. It feels like a live show in its intensity, connection with the audience, and even acoustic qualities. It’s loud, brash, and a sample of what real Metal should sound like.

And I’m going to start it over again when I’m done with this review so I can hear that opening blast of “You Got Livin'” one more time today. That’s an anthem for life, I’m telling you.

When you’re done listening to the album and through thanking me for the hot tip, you’ll be able to understand why I put so little stock in “Top (x) of All Time” lists. Rolling Stone’s list of 100 fancy banjo players doesn’t mention Marino at all. It’s got guitarists famous for being dead or for being in bands with famous singers on the list that Marino could wipe the floor with. Whatever. Marino’s the real deal and What’s Next is perhaps his strongest album in his discography.

Time to start it over, now. Do yourself a favor and get this album. You’re welcome and Rolling Stone can take a hike.

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