Track listing: Jangleholic, God Bless California (Oooh L.A.), Magic Attic, Everything Is Wrong (Radio Edit), System Crash (Radio Edit), Under The Covers
Les Fradkin's bio reads like a history lesson. In 1976 he beat out thousands of others in auditions for the cast of Beatlemania, playing the role of George Harrison. He's classically trained and a pioneer MIDI guitarist, originally discovered by the legendary John Hammond Sr. at Columbia Records (who also sparked the careers of a few others like Dylan, Springsteen, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Pete Seeger, Olatunji, Aretha, Leonard Cohen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others).
But we are gathered here today to get to this thing called Artist Kit Sampler, Fradkin's latest offering. A 6-song EP, the production is huge--falling somewhere between The Byrds and Traveling Wilburys--a psychedelic trip that could just as easily have Jeff Lynne sitting on studio couch while Les laid down his tracks.
"Jangleholic" kicks things off with a semi-autobiographical nod to a sound that spanned the 60s, 70s and beyond, bringing together generations of music fans with the familiar twing and twang of a clear-channel electric guitar. And as music history dictated, the 'jangle' was mostly quashed by the electro/synth sounds of the 80s. But we digress.
Fradkin's "God Bless California (Oooh L.A.)" has got to be a tribute to The Beach Boys, with its bouncy keyboard and layered harmonies in the outro. While "Magic Attic" comes across like a collab between Yes, the Wilson brothers, and at least 2 of the Beatles in the late 60s. Absolutely gorgeous harmonies highlight a traditional yet impressive arrangement.
Praise for Les Fradkin has come from all over, over the years. Most recently on August 10, 2023 he was announced as an inductee to the Akademic Hall of Fame. So on May 18 of 2024, his honor will be conferred in person at the Akademia Gala Event held in Los Angeles, California.
As for Artist Kit Sampler, give it a listen! The album and Fradkin's entire discography is available at lesfradkin1.bandcamp.com. He's a true one man band, in the storied tradition of stars like Wonder, Prince, McCartney, Edmunds, Rundgren, and now . . . Les Fradkin.