Rhythm & Views

Tommy Guerrero

Tommy Guerrero, as readers may or may not know, is a famous street skateboarder from San Francisco, as well as a successful entrepreneur who runs his own skateboard and graphic-design companies. He played in punk-rock bands during the early 1980s.

And there's not much music these days that has the funky, bluesy attitude of Tommy Guerrero's latest disc, his fourth full-length recording. He's simply a smooth-ass master of old-school cool--that whole blacksploitation-meets-porn-soundtrack thing.

"Badder Than Bullets" boasts a rhythm built from smokin' wah-wah guitar and blood-stirring exclamations of jazz-fusion lead guitar. Then the gritty strings come in, and the resulting vibe recalls the theme music from some '70s cop show or even one of those cheesy European crime movies.

Likewise, the infectious skittering beat of "Tomorrow's Goodbye" provides a cushy bed for crooner-style vocals, accordion and a slightly Latin guitar loop. Especially attractive are the rising build on the synthesizer-led "No Guns More Glory" and the creeping threat of "War No More."

Although he plays bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion, kalimba and electronics, Guerrero also employs some of his pals as guest artists. Curumin provides the breezy vocal on "Salve," a trip-hoppy Brazilian joint, and rapper Lyrics Born sits in on "Let Me in Let Me out," flowing through a concoction of ragged rock and old-school funk.

Although it's probably not his intention, Guerrero creates songs full of amazing breaks for turntablists or sampling artists. Fans of the Beastie Boys' instrumentals will dig where he's coming from.

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