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Just Outside of Normal

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Customer Reviews


Stuart Hamm's new effort shows why people see him as the bass player's bass player. He loves the instrument and you can hear it in this album. "The obligatory boogie" is just what it sounds like, a chance for Stu to demonstrate his well-honed chops. Joe Satriani guests on this track and his soloing is as wild as any of his own solo work (think “Ice 9” or “Satch Boogie” for Satch’s style on this track). Joe also guests on "Windsor Mews" and it sounds like some of his best work in this phase of his career. I maintain that when Joe plays on Stu's album, he gets something out of Joe that's different than when Joe plays his own solo work. The songwriting is tight with the mixing focusing on soloists, but the focus is squarely built around the bass instrument. “The clarinet polka” is a continuation of "country music (a night in hell)" from Radio Free Albemuth showing Stu's chops - if you're a bass player, this is a new piece to any bass player’s repertoire.

The rest of the album demonstrates Stu's subtlety with the instrument and his keen sense of tone - he frequently plays with harmonics and overtones that add significantly to the lower bass line that he is playing. This technique, used in a re-interpretation of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" sounds as open and complex as the original, with the vocal and main guitar parts played on the bass. The track "Just Outside of Normal" and "Adagio" could easily have been played on Stu's live album, X2 - they're quiet tracks that demonstrate that great bass playing does not have to be loud and that the instrument can be played with a wide variety of emotion, if placed in the right hands. “Big Roller”, a favorite track of mine, is a fun ragtime jazz track – think “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” meets “The Godfather”. The rest of the album is equally strong until the last track, “Lucidity” which has a subtle, but eerie soundscape from Robert Fripp and great vocals from . Compositionally, “Just Outside of Normal” represents Stu’s best work to date.

Stu the man

I met Stu at the namm show in Jan, he told me about this CD, and how's he's working with Joe S. on another, this is a real good CD, I like his faster stuff but I guess when you age, you slow down somewhat-not!!! Obligatory Boogie is the speed me likes, so I'm going to see how he works with Joe, I just need fast energy stuff that he did in his younger years BUT Big Roller is great and the Clarinet Polka WOW!!! Thanks Stu, do it again...


Born: February 8, 1960 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Bassist Stuart Hamm made a name for himself largely due to his work in the ‘80s, when he accompanied two of hard rock's leading guitarists, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Born in 1960 and raised in Indiana, Hamm was born into an extremely musically gifted family (his father is a musicologist and has penned music textbooks, his mother was an opera singer/teacher, and his brother taught Classical Northern Indian Music). After relocating to Virginia as a teenager, Hamm picked up the bass, and began studying...
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Just Outside of Normal, Stuart Hamm
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