The recent announcement of a Genesis reunion tour is great news for fans of the pioneering progressive rock group. And loyal followers of the 80s’ era Genesis trio have come to know Chester Thompson (drums & percussion) and Daryl Stuermer (guitar) as two stalwart members of the touring group. Both are slated to return as the band takes to the road in 2007.
This was great news for Stuermer as well … a steady paycheck and another World Tour. But this excellent ‘guitarist for hire’ hasn’t been sitting idly by the phone these past few years in anticipation of that reunion call. For that matter Stuermer hasn’t had time to sit still. He’s been rockin’ and touring his whole life.
But how did this self taught musician from Milwaukee Wisconsin … hardly a hotbed of the entertainment business … find himself on stage with a British progressive rock icon?
It began innocently enough in 1975 while Stuermer was performing at a local club with his group Sweetbottom. Frank Zappa’s keyboardist George Duke sat in with the group that night, forming a friendship and recognizing the talent of the young guitarist. Later that year Duke recommended Stuermer to other Zappa alumni, violinist Jean Luc Ponty who was in the process of assembling a group for his fusion project.
As a result of Duke’s recommendation the 22 year old guitarist was added to Ponty’s line-up, experienced his first World tour, and went on to recorded four albums with Ponty.
In December of 1977 Stuermer meet with Mike Rutherford in New York as Genesis was preparing for the “And Then There Were Three” Tour – and from that meeting a 20 year relationship with the members of Genesis was forged. He’s become a regular touring member of both Genesis and The Phil Collins band.
Collins defined Stuermer’s association as a ‘permanent-temporary-part-time member’ of Genesis and a ‘permanent-tour-recording member’ of The Phil Collins Group. Stuermer was not exclusively employed by Genesis during this period – he also toured with Gino Vannelli in 1979.
Throughout his career Stuermer’s stunning guitar work can be heard on albums by not only Collins, Banks (“Still” - 1992 and “The Fugitive” - 1984), and Rutherford (“Acting Very Strange” - 1984) - but also Frida of ABBA (“I Know There’s Something Going On” - 1983), Joan Armatrading (“The Key” – 1984), and George Duke and David Arkenstone.
But Daryl Stuermer is more than just a gun for hire/touring/sessions player – he is a composer in his own right with an impressive discography to show for it: “Stepping Out” 1987, “Live And Learn” 1998, “Another Side Of Genesis” 2000, “Waiting In The Wings” 2001, “Sweetbottom Live The Reunion” 2003, “Retrofit” 2004, “Nylon String Collection” 2005; bringing us to his latest release “Rewired – The Electric Collection”.
“Rewired” is a showcase for the guitar prowess of Stuermer, which is held in check on most Genesis material. Stuermer is clearly a more technically proficient guitarist than Rutherford , but must play within the framework of the material. It would be interesting to hear what he might add to the compositions if he were part of the recording group.
If this amazing collection of 10 instrumental tunes is any indication of what he might bring to Genesis – then all I can say is it’s an enormous waste of talent to relegate him solely to touring and not include him in the composition and recording process.
The songs on “Rewired” are an impressive collection of hard driving, yet catchy numbers with a tinge of jazz fusion, fretwork gymnastics, and an undercurrent of mid-to-late period Genesis ever present.
For example: “Determined” might well have been given the alternate title “Abacab – Part 2”, while “Morning Train” would have fit nicely on any Genesis album after “Wind And Wuthering” – the post Hackett years. Yet strangely enough it sounds like something you might hear on a current Steve Hackett solo album. Go figure.
And the final tune “The Least You Can Do” is a beautifully arranged instrumental version of the Collins/Stuermer collaboration from Phil Collins album “Testify”. But “Rewired” isn’t Stuermer’s sequel to “The Other side Of Genesis”. He brings a lifetime of accumulated musical influences into play on the album than simply his association with progressive rock or Phil Collins and Company ... smooth jazz, blues, and balls-to-the-wall rock and roll.
The opening track “Yin Yang Boogie” sets the tone with an energetic Satriani style guitar instrumental, displaying his amazing fretwork. “Road Warrior” maintains the level of high intensity, driven by a wall of Latin percussion and blistering guitar runs. And the track “High And Hip Hop” is an eclectic blend of Celtic rock that abruptly morphs into up-tempo jazz. There is not a dud on the disc.
This CD has been getting extensive playing time at the old homestead and I highly recommend it to fans of guitar driven instrumental rock – and music lovers in general.
Reviewed by Joseph SHingler on March 26th, 2007