The Aristocrats - FREEZE! Live in Europe 2020
by Kevin Wierzbicki
Recorded at shows in Spain in February 2020, just before the pandemic shut down in-person events, this live effort from the Aristocrats features half a dozen lengthy songs, all of which are on the band's You Know What...?
album, the trio's current album at the time. The group is made up of journeyman musicians; guitarist Guthrie Govan (Asia, the Young Punx), bassist Bryan Beller (Joe Satriani, Dweezil Zappa) and drummer Marco Minnemann (Adrian Belew, Kreator) and here they work strictly in an instrumental mode. With its funky bass line, precise but sometimes woozy guitar playing and myriad changes in tempo, prog rocker "D Grade F*ck Movie Jam" sounds very Zappa-esque while "Spanish Eddie," a showcase for Govan's guitar work, is more in a jazz fusion vein. Of course the song pays homage to its title with occasional Flamenco guitar flourishes; elsewhere on the long groove Govan pushes the band into boogie mode briefly, ventures very near heavy metal territory and also reels off a couple of speedy "Flight of the Bumblebee"-like riffs. "When We All Come Together" is based around a country riff with Govan tuned into chicken-pickin' while Minnemann and Beller lay down a fast shuffle that undoubtedly got the crowd dancing. Neil Peart of Rush passed away while the Aristocrats were on the tour during which this record was made, and his death hit Minnemann particularly hard; no surprise then that the nearly 19-minute prog piece "Get it Like That" is dedicated to Peart. Superlative musicianship abounds here and it'll likely leave listeners craving a time when they can see the Aristocrats live. Releases on May 7, 2021.