Soundcheck is the sixteenth solo album by legendary rock guitarist Leslie West. It follows 2011's critically acclaimed Unusual Suspects, which featured contributions from such accomplished guitarists and close friends as Billy Gibbons, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather and Joe Bonamassa, and 2013's Still Climbing, which included blistering duets with the late, great Johnny Winter, Jonny Lang and Mark Tremonti.
For this new release, Leslie lays down some of his most inspired musical magic to date with the assistance of true rock royalty: the renown British guitarists Peter Frampton and Brian May, ex-Jeff Beck keyboard virtuoso Max Middleton, vocalist extraordinaire Bonnie Bramlett and the late great Cream bassist and longtime friend of Leslie's, Jack Bruce. Back in 1972, Leslie made musical history with Jack when they joined forces to form the super group West, Bruce and Laing. Soundcheck is co-produced and engineered by West's collaborator Mike "Metal" Goldberg, who he shared, "helped me get my sound down on 'Tape' as they used to say, and did an amazing job as he always does."
Leslie West (born Leslie Weinstein, October 22, 1945) first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 as the guitarist and singer in the groundbreaking rock band Mountain. West's wholly unique sound, distinguished by beautifully melodic phrasing, his slow, wide vibrato, and a crushing guitar tone set the standard in the late sixties and early seventies for blues/rock guitar playing of the highest order. Along with the hugely influential Top Ten hit "Mississippi Queen," Leslie's brilliant guitar work serves as the driving force behind the Mountain classics, "Nantucket Sleighride," "Never In My Life," "Don't Look Around," "Blood of the Sun," "Dreams of Milk and Honey," and the incredible Jack Bruce composition, "Theme For an Imaginary Western."
That one-of-a-kind signature guitar sound propels Soundcheck throughout, evidenced by such powerful tracks as, "Left By The Roadside to Die," "Here For the Party," "Empty Promises--Nothing Sacred," "Going Down," "Spoonful," "A Stern Warning" and five other stellar songs.
And then there's that legendary vibrato. "The guitar should sound like a voice, and having a good vibrato is essential to me," Leslie states. "When a first-chair violinist in an orchestra stands up to take a solo, I listen specifically for the vibrato. [Consummate classical violinist] Itzhak Perlman has a fantastic vibrato! That's what I try to emulate. I worked so hard on getting my vibrato to sound the way I wanted it to. I still work on it, to this day. I don't work on playing fast, but I sure work on the tone, and I sure work on the vibrato."
Leslie West is looking to close out 2015 and kick off 2016 with major touring in the states and in Europe, performing a combination of his time-honored classics plus the material from Soundcheck. "I'm so happy with the sound of this new record," Leslie affirms. "The guitar sound we captured is fantastic, and my voice is feeling better than ever."