Mike Keneally Band – Guitar Therapy Live (2006)

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I can’t even begin to pretend to be impartial here: Guitarist Mike Keneally is absolutely one of my all-time favorites. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to steer you wrong: If I thought this wasn’t an easily palatable platter of fine phonic fun, I would have little problem saying so. And that is most definitely not the case here.

With Guitar Therapy Live, Keneally has whittled the results of several seemingly spectacular shows down to one solid disc. I usually have problems with multi-show “live” documents, but sometimes they’re just done right and luckily I can say that’s how this one turns out. Instead of feeling like it’s been edited together and suffering from being the sum of many parts, GTL becomes the greater whole. Even longtime fans who may have traded with other fans (with Keneally’s consent) for dozens and dozens of his shows will find this a pleasing set. There isn’t a dud moment in the entire runtime.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Mike Keneally talks with us about the lingering influences of Frank Zappa and XTC, and his magical introduction to prog through ‘Tarkus.’]

For those new to Keneally, he is best described as the heir to the Frank Zappa throne, and don’t take that lightly. While many may toss out the obvious names of Steve Vai and Zappa’s own son Dweezil, Keneally is the only guitarist who possesses the skills and taste needed to pull off what Frank himself could. Because Keneally is humble, you’ll probably never see him mount a project such as Zappa Plays Zappa (also because he wouldn’t technically fit the bill) but he absolutely deserves to be the one playing those solos.

The spirit of Zappa lives on in Keneally — except maybe not as vulgar: You actually can play Mike’s music for your entire family without fear of needing to skip over anything!

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