Leslie West: Legacy – A Tribute to Leslie West

Leslie West never really got the credit he deserved. The former Mountain guitarist and singer was in this reviewer’s opinion a far better guitarist than Clapton in his Cream days. His thick creamy guitar tones and raspy voice were a perfect blend for his heavy psychedelic-tinged blues-rock. Plagued by drug and health problems throughout his career including losing a leg due to complications from diabetes, Leslie continued to battle on releasing new music with Mountain and as a solo musician. His health rapidly deteriorated in 2020 and he sadly passed away that December.

Why am I telling you all this? Because some of Leslie’s friends, peers, and fans have got together to record an album paying their respects to the guitar great.

Kicking off proceedings is Zakk Wylde’s rendition of “Blood of the Sun” which is chock full of Zakk’s trademark playing. It’s clear that much of Zakk’s guitar style was inspired by West’s guitar style.

Of the 12 tracks on this album only “Mississippi Queen” and “Never in My Life” would probably be known to casual listeners of Mountain. Next up is “Nantucket Sleighride” featuring Joe Lynn Turner on vocals and ex-Megadeth shredder Marty Friedman on guitar. For me, this is one of the standout tracks with its many different sections making it one for the prog fans.

For those of you that thought Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider was all lipstick and lace, give “Theme from an Imaginary Western” a listen. Snider gives a passionate performance and was a close friend of West’s. It’s an extremely poignant moment on the album. Joining Snider on this track is Twisted Sister Guitarist Eddie Ojeda, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Francesco Saglietti on keys, and Mike Portnoy on drums making for one hell of a super-group.

Naturally, the guitar talent on this album is what will sell copies (Slash, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Morse, and George Lynch all appear) it’s worth noting just how amazing the vocals are on this record. Leslie was more than just a guitarist and it makes sense that the singers on this record are also of a high calibre. As mentioned before, Joe Lynn Turner and Dee Snider guest on the album both getting two shots at the mic each. Relative newcomer Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr performs “Silver Paper” presumably on his Gibson Les Paul Junior (notable as the guitar Leslie West was famous for using.) It’s a well-picked cover for him to sing and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a Blackberry Smoke original.

On an album full of guys paying tribute to Leslie West I can’t figure out why Jared James Nicols is missing from the roster. West is by far Nicols’ favourite guitarist and his influence is heard in JJN’s playing. It feels like a missed opportunity and I can only hope there’s room for a follow-up to this album.

Only “Mississippi Queen” could bring the album to a close. Featuring Saul “Slash” Hudson on guitar and Dirty Honey singer Marc Labelle. It’s a celebration of a phenomenal guitarist, singer and songwriter that will be sorely missed by many.

If you’re a fan of thick bluesy riff rock and don’t know Leslie West stop reading this and go listen to him! Then buy this album.

“Legacy: A Tribute To Leslie West” will be released March 25th via Provogue/Mascot Label Group. Pre-order information, here.

Review – Colin Plumb

Photo credit – Justin Borucki

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