Leslie West is a man who has earned the right to sing the blues. He gave up smoking after a bout with bladder cancer and he lost his leg to diabetes, but his virtuosity has prevailed. “Still Climbing” is a new album with a classic vibe. From his pioneering guitar sound with the Vagrants and Mountain, and throughout his solo career, his playing style remains viable and strongly identifiable. West is an absolute guitar great and he collaborated with some heavy hitting guests on this CD.
From the opening track “Dyin’ Since the Day I Was Born” to the befitting finish “Rev Jones Time,” this album is a full-on guitar assault. Heavy guitars mixed with West’s bluesy vocals and collaborations with the likes of Dee Snider and Jonny Lang make for an exciting album. I want to take it to a smoky bar and listen again! There’s also an amazing blend of guitar meets saxophone, courtesy of Arno Hecht in “Not Over You At All.”
While some of West’s introspective lyrics seem a bit dismal, when you listen to this one from beginning to end, the cover version of Traffic’s “Feeling Good,” featuring the vocal power of Dee Snider, is somewhat of a turning point. It’s when the album’s overall “Tales of Woe” take a positive turn.
A heavier version of “Long Red” which West first recorded on Mountain’s self-titled album back in 1969, is a gem on this release, making the album feel a bit like a Leslie West musical autobiography. “Rev Jones Time” is a tonally beautiful instrumental version of “Over the Rainbow.” This album is certainly worth listening to. You can’t go wrong with heavy guitar riffs that are painted blue with swagger!