Derek Sherinian – Oceana

Mascot Records
Producer: Derek Sherinian/Simon Phillips

Derek Sherinian - Oceana Album CoverOceana is keyboard wizard Derek Sherinian’s seventh solo record and as usual it’s chock full of intense rock and fusion goodness. Guitar virtuoso guests are all over this record, and it does not disappoint. Oceana grooves harder and displays improved songwriting compared to past releases. The tunes are stronger, more concise, and memorable.

The cast includes Simon Phillips on drums, and Tony Franklin and Jimmy Johnson on bass. The guitar guests include Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather, Doug Aldrich, Tony MacAlpine, and Steve Stevens. These guys kill all over this record, and the compositional twists and turns range from bluesy, to classic 70’s fusion.

Tony MacAlpine comes out swinging on the two opening tracks “Five Elements” and “Mercury 7.” These two cuts set the tone for the whole record. Think There And Back era Jeff Beck with a few stylistic diversions. Bluesy piano work and wailing Jan Hammer-isms by Sherinian abound. MacAlpine rips effortlessly on these compositions, and displays the kind of jaw-dropping, high-level chops that keep his fans coming back for more.

Steve Lukather appears on the tracks “Mulholland,” “Euphoria,” and “Seven Sins.” His playing is Beck influenced but with a harmonically sophisticated and lyrical special Lukather sauce. These cuts burn and groove hard with a variety of keyboard sounds ranging from the organically funky, to swooping, synthy, pitch wheel assaults. Deep pocket drumming underpins Lukather’s expressive pitch perfect whammy dips and harmonic scoops.

On “Ghost Runner,” Steve Stevens and Sherinian start dueling right out of the gate on this high-energy rock-fusion shred fest. Stevens whips out ballsy guitar tones and goo-gobs of tasty note selection. On the ballad “Oceana,” Stevens displays his smooth soulful side with a mix of rubbery legato bends and speedy staccato rock barrages.

Whitesnake’s Doug Aldrich makes his debut appearance with Sherinian and brings the rawk to the funkiness of “El Camino Diablo.” You wanna hear shred with feel? Here it is. His guitar tone really pops on this track, more so than the other guitarists, while Sherinian’s B3 soloing is inspired. Black Country Communion cohort Joe Bonamassa takes a break from the blues to get his licks in on “I Heard That.” Reminiscent of Jeff Beck’s “The Pump,” and “Too Much To Lose,” it’s a showcase for his range as a guitarist. As per usual, Bonamassa’s guitar tone is ungodly.

The rhythm section is stellar with Jimmy Johnson laying down the bass on everything except “Oceana,” and “Ghost Runner.” Tony Franklin played bass on those tracks, and it’s seamless. Former Jeff Beck (There And Back) drummer Simon Phillips laid down prodigious drum grooves on this record, and as co-producer, helped give the record a clear, pristine, richness to the production. Sherinian is a ferocious keyboardist in the tradition of Jan Hammer. If you’ve heard his work with Planet X you already know this. If you thought he was slumming in Black Country Communion, Oceana will show you that he’s back on track.

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