Steve Hunter: Tone Poems Live

As Seen on Classic Rock Radio (UK)

Originally Published: 03 Nov 2014

Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
New Music from Classic Rockers
Spotlight: Steve Hunter – Tone Poems Live (Audio CD 2014 Singular Recordings / Gokuhi, LLC)

By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

Steve Hunter - Tone Poems Live - cover

If I had to describe Steve Hunter’s newest release, Tone Poems Live, then I’d say it’s an instrumental album with feeling. “Retro sounding”, a local professional Houston bass player told me. In a warehouse environment, I played it aloud for that little piece of the world to hear. Questions directed at me on what happened to be a beautiful Sunday afternoon ranged from who was the artist we were hearing, to what’s the name of the CD, and one of my personal favorites…are you going to Pink’s Pizza later on? A slice of good old fashion cheese pizza, and memories of my youth flash before me. Included in that is the guitar stylings of Steve Hunter. For back in the day and more recently, Steve played with Alice Cooper. Both the band and solo artist. Really not a bad lick anywhere, which is why I imagine they keep asking him to come back. Alice rocks!! And in part due to Steve’s musicianship over the years, Vince/Alice has received the recognition that equals that of his work with the original Alice Cooper band. Example, on Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011) Alice’s follow-up to his mega debut solo smash hit album Welcome To My Nightmare (1975), Steve’s playing steals the show on the opening song, ‘I Am Made of You’. Since doing this professionally, Mr. Hunter has performed with the legendary Lou Reed (RIP), David Lee Roth, Meat Loaf (toured), and Peter Gabriel; then add his own catalog of solo material. An outstanding career, and one that gets spotlighted in this newest live release.

For the record, this review is all about the audio CD. I have yet to view the DVD. In soon enough time, believe me, I will. In the meantime, the audio disc is holding me over nicely.

The word “live” does not, in this case, mean Steve and his band are playing in front of thousands of people doing a concert somewhere, but instead performing all together at the same time in a recording studio. Considered old school nowadays, and the way Steve is comfortable getting the task done. The results pay off.

Joining Mr. Hunter on this project is Mr. Tony Levin on bass. I would have purchased the new CD with it being a new Steve Hunter release, even if Tony wasn’t in the band. Now, I have two reasons why to purchase it. Have been a Tony Levin fan for some time now. As a new aspiring bass player with two lessons under my belt, I can safely say the man will inspire me to play the bass to the best of my abilities, till my last dying day. And by the way, Tony is having a GREAT year also. Besides working with Steve, Mr. Levin just put out the coolest traditional jazz album with his brother Pete entitled Levin Brothers (Lazy Bone Recordings). As they say, variety being the spice of life, I do branch out from classic rock from time to time. Doing just that, I came across The Levin Brothers – the CD, a newly released gem. Back to Steve, his playing is a bit of everything; bluesy, jazzy, funky, and the dude rocks! Steve Hunter – Tone Poems Live proves that with every repeated spin. Assisted by Dave Mason’s drummer, Mr. Alvino Bennett, and a very cool keyboardist with yet another impressive past, Mr. Philip Aaberg.

The Music:

Each track is a part of Steve, even if not the composer. All my years of hearing Steve on record, or on live recordings, I can only assume after all this time, that the guitar and Steve are one. That the instrument is akin to a soul mate. Something special/dear to him. I’d like to strive for the same regarding my own bass playing. With some musicians, entertaining is nothing more than a job. Pays the bills. I never get that feeling with Steve Hunter. That guitar playing isn’t just a learned skill, but when done right, the sounds emitted, a universal language enjoyed by damn near all who reside on this planet. I have met a few people over the course of my life, who say they don’t like/get music. Puzzles my mind.

The first two songs on Steve Hunter’s Tone Poem Live, ‘The Idler’ and ‘222 W. 23rd’ absolutely blow me away! From precise to funky, to even sexy. The volume is now set to LOUD. It’s not that it gets better but instead stays consistent. That’s the magic. No vocalist here and the center of attention just happens to be one of the best guitarists in music today and his friends. Accompanied by those behind the scenes that make this all a solid CD from beginning to end. Nice!!

Rating: I could go on and on about each track and how wonderful I find sitting back and enjoying each and every song. Instead, I’ll speed up the process and just say flat out that if anything I said up to this points interest you, then go check this out. Just stick Steve’s Tone Poem Live CD in your home stereo, press play, and let its marvelous sounds fill the space you feel secure enough to walk around naked in from time to time. Not too loud that the cops come banging on the door. Kills the mood.

Uncle G’s rating of Steve Hunter – Tone Poems Live, using the one to five star rating system commonly found on the Internet, I give 5 Stars (and five exclamation points). This CD is worthy of major awards and at least one follow up project with the same musicians.

Uncle G’s Helpful Weblinks


Steve Hunter: The Manhattan Blues Project


As Seen On
First Published: 17 June 2013
Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Steve Hunter – The Manhattan Blues Project (2013 Deacon Records)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

Steve Hunter - The Manhattan Blues Project - CD Wrap

The first Kickstarter program I pledged money. A new Steve Hunter solo project. It’s a story I’ll tell the rest of my life. And with wonderful results for its funded, meaning the artist succeeded in reaching the goal set, and now the CD is a reality. A guitarist rock fans have been listening to since the golden 1970’s. A man who helped make popular such names in music as Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, and Alice Cooper. A professional musician in every meaning of the word. Displays superior guitar skills with each and every song he participates on. One of Steve’s latest successes being the lead guitarist on Alice Cooper’s Nightmare 2 album. Then being ever so respectful, standing in for the deceased Glen Buxton when the Cooper’s were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Mr. Hunter, a sometimes independent artist, met his financial goal to put out this CD through a website I just previously mentioned, Kickstarter Dot Com. To all others thinking of getting a project funded, a lesson in how it’s done. Came to my house autographed with a signature that can actually be read. Packaging design is done very nicely. Good photos of Steve and I like the darker colors used in the cover wrap. Via Kickstarter and Steve’s official Facebook page, his wife Karen communicates with folks keeping everyone abreast as to everyday occurrences. The whole experience made it a pleasure to participate. The Hunters both come across online as very pleasant, and ever so professional. I personally could not be any happier to be a pledge participant. My first time backing an idea proposed on Kickstarter, and then it met and or exceeded its goal. I have witnessed proposed projects crash and burn. Will continue to keep open minded to participating again.

Steve Hunter has already participated on unique concept albums held in high esteem by fans and critics alike. And like all other past projects, The Manhattan Blues Project is consistent on the entertainment meter. Deeper than just the hit songs he participated on. The listener gets a more personal understanding of the man behind the guitar.

The topic of this CD is, of course, Manhattan. It is the smallest of the five boroughs that make up New York City. Madison Square Garden is located there. Having hung out in Manhattan (considered a county of New York State) as a teenager, I can tell you first hand that it’s an encyclopedia when it comes to music. Different bars/clubs all having different sounds. Big acts like The Rolling Stones used Manhattan / New York City as a backdrop for many of their songs. My introduction to rap was heard walking the streets of Manhattan. Young black guys on the street corners using rhythms to sell their drugs. I’d shake my head no and smile. Already had all the drugs I needed.

Each song on The Manhattan Blues Project is as unique as the location it’s named after. The CD starts off with typical outside street sounds. A nice instrumental mood piece that leads in wonderfully to one of the most bad ass songs I’ve heard in ages called; “222 w.23rd”. Do justice here and listen to this with a good pair of headphones. The song got a prominent lovemaking vibe. Music you imagine hearing in an erectile dysfunction TV commercial when the pill takes effect and it’s time to get busy. Maybe I’m the only one hearing this? And I’m not saying in any way, anything bad. The song inspires shagging. Has a definite sexiness to it. Includes interesting background noises, a vocal rap by Tommy Henriksen, some slide by Michael Lee Firkins, and Hunter’s wife Karen acing the background vocals. For Steve, Uncle G predicts a new greatest hit. Guaranteed repeat plays. It’s that good. And then draw a tub for you and a special friend. Let the music take you both away (wink wink).

At times throughout The Manhattan Blues Project, Mr. Hunter has some rather exceptional friends join in. One of my favorite bass players, Mr. Tony Levin appears on a couple of songs. One is a re-imagining of a Peter Gabriel hit song called “Solsbury Hill”. Ninety-eight percent is an instrumental with uncredited male background voices heard in somewhat harmony. Overall the guys did the classic rock song justice. An enjoyable track.

“The Brooklyn Shuffle” totally shines. A traditional blues sounding song with some outstanding guitar work by Steve and two other gentlemen: Johnny Depp and Joe Perry. Both offering meaty solos. Karen again outdoes herself on background vocals. Be fun to see this played in concert.

“Ground Zero” is a haunting, yet beautiful piece. Evokes emotion when listening to it. So many terrific days in Manhattan’s history and then you have that very dark one. Not a totally depressing tune, Hunter captures the right vibe. Each note and chord played, backed with feeling. A positive sign of a good blues guitarist.

“Twilight In Harlem” has this funky groove to it. Joining Steve on guitar duty are Joe Satriani and Marty Friedman. The song has a real band sound. Helping to make this so, on keyboards is Phil Aaberg, and on drums, Todd Chuba.

“Sunset In Central Park” is the last song on the CD. On bass again is Tony Levin and on cellos is 2Cellos. All the ingredients needed to close the CD on a fine note. Nice outro !!

Rating: A friend asked if I could be non-bias. Knew I have been a long time fan. An old Alice Cooper associate that Steve also knows would say assessing yours truly that I’m loyal and honest like a boy scout. To me that’s flattering. Using the one to five-star rating system I give Steve Hunter – The Manhattan Blues Project: 5 very solid stars. Well done Mr. Hunter. Well done indeed.

Steve Hunter – 222 W 23rd

Uncle G’s Helpful Weblinks

Official Steve Hunter Website: 

Official Steve Hunter Twitter Page: @stevehunterguit