When they catalog all-time classic rock records, Van Morrison’s Moondance is perennially high on the list. John Platania’s acoustic and electric guitar work is prominently featured on Moondance, as well as many other Morrison masterpieces, such as His Band and the Street Choir, and the live It’s Too Late To Stop Now. In the more recent decade, the guitarist who helped invent “roots-rock” has been plying his trade accompanying Chip Taylor, another songwriting legend (“Wild Thing,” “Angel Of The Morning”) who acts as producer on this release. On his first instrumental solo record, Platania continues his role as exemplary accompanist—this time backing his own expressively played guitar melodies.
No wanker workout, Blues, Waltzes and Badland Borders is a textbook of guitar orchestration, featuring steel string, nylon, electric, baritone, and sitar—all in the service of tunes composed by Platania, Taylor, or both.
The borders in question are the Texas/Mexico ones. Narrations by Taylor’s brother, actor John Voight (“Running With The Dogs”), Alejandro Escovedo (“Child Heroes”), and others, do a great job evoking the region’s colorful, troubled history, but no more so than the guitarist’s emotional string-work. Platania doesn’t play a lot of notes, but he plays the important ones.
- Michael Ross