In his pomp as the “godfather of street skating”, Tommy Guerrero was noted for his relaxed, smooth style of boarding; tracing long, languid arcs through the streets of his San Francisco hometown.
As a musician, the former Bones Brigade talisman — now aged 47 and about to tour Europe for the first time — preaches a similarly laidback approach. Mixing 70s soul and funk, surf-rock, hip-hop and house, Guerrero’s solo repertoire includes a couple of records cut for James Lavelle’s seminal 90s imprint Mo’Wax, and strongly evokes a life spent on streets gently baked by the California sun.
Though not exactly worlds apart from its predecessors, ‘No Man’s Land’ — Guerrero’s seventh solo LP to date — distinguishes itself from the pack chiefly by dint of its parched spaghetti western overtones.
‘Black Dust’ is an atmospheric, string-laden opener, while ‘The Gunslinger’ is a terrific slice of cinematic hip-hop with a hint of Morricone in the trebly guitar. ‘Handful Of Hell’ brings to mind the desperado flair of regular Tom Waits sideman Marc Ribot, and ‘El Bandito’ even ropes in rattlesnake percussion and whistling in service of its outlaw theme. ‘Phantom Rider’, meanwhile, features some superbly twangy guitar work from Guerrero.
On a slightly different tip, ‘The Man From Califas’’ twinkling glockenspiel and busy, delicate drum work resembles the soundtrack to some forgotten piece of West Coast noir from the 60s. And the breezy, delightful ‘Hombre Sin Nombre’ sounds like Shuggie Otis jamming out with Steely Dan.
Guerrero keeps each song taut and concise, though at 17 tracks long, you could argue the record would have benefitted from a little more variety to shake up its more coffee table moments. As it stands, ‘No Man’s Land’ plays more like one of Booker T & The MGs’ records from the early-70s — a curio, perhaps, but a stylish one nonetheless.
Levi’s Skateboarding Collection presents…
Tommy Guerrero’s 2014 European Tour :: No Mans Land
Catch Tommy on his first ever European tour in a city near you:
14 April. Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
15 April. London, Underworld
17 April. Haarlem, Patronaat
18 April. Eindhoven, Effenaar
19 April. Maastricht, Muziekgieterij
20 April. Paris, New Morning
22 April. Lyon, Le Sucre
23 April. Marseille, Le Poste A Galene
24 April. Sant Feliu de Guixols, Atzavara
25 April. Madrid, El Sol
26 April. Málaga, Velvet
28 April. Barcelona, Sidecar