Personnel: Michael Lee Firkins (vocals, guitar, guitars); Chuck Leavell, Danny Alverez, Danny Alvarez (keyboards); John Purtle, Kai Eckhardt, Andy Hess (bass guitar); Thomas Pridgen, Matt Abts, Michael Bland (drums).
Recording information: Prairie Sun Studios, Cotati, CA; Sawblades Studios, San Rafael, CA; Straight-Up Sound; Syklopps Studios, San Francisco, CA.
In the early '90s, six-string whiz kid Michael Lee Firkins was getting widespread praise in all the guitar publications at the time -- especially with the release of his self-titled debut album from 1990. And despite releasing several other albums throughout the remainder of the decade, guitar shred albums abruptly took a backseat to other rock styles -- hence affording Firkins a cult following, but certainly not on the scale of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, or Yngwie Malmsteen. And after 1999's Decomposition, fans patiently waited for Firkins' next solo released. And waited...and waited. Finally arriving in 2007, Black Light Sonatas is exactly what you'd expect from Firkins -- bluesy and country-based licks abound, without sacrificing any of the rock. Featured are tunes that showcase Firkins' soloing capabilities, especially the album opener, "One Big Punch (Crying Stacks)," as well as a tough, rockin' cover of "Black Betty," and some sweet n' soulful guitar work on the album-ending title track. The wait was certainly a tad too long between albums, but all of Firkins' expected sonic components are well represented throughout Black Light Sonatas. ~ Greg Prato