Chris Francis | Chris Francis

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Rock: Instrumental Rock Rock: 80's Rock Moods: Mood: Virtuoso
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Chris Francis

by Chris Francis

"nine instrumentals combining the tone of Eddie, the melodic ear of Nuno, the technique of Yngwie and - perhaps most importantly of all - the feel of Satch et al. No, really." Simon Bradley, Guitarist Magazine.
Genre: Rock: Instrumental Rock
Release Date: 

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1. Freedom Machine
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4:37 $0.89
2. The Story So Far
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4:47 $0.89
3. C For Miles
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4:48 $0.89
4. Thin Air
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4:02 $0.89
5. Until
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5:50 $0.89
6. Pretzels n' Cheese
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3:29 $0.89
7. Zavoov
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5:01 $0.89
8. Daydream In Green
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6:16 $0.89
9. To High Heaven
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2:10 $0.89
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Chris Francis studied guitar at the now dissolved MI London for one year, graduating with a platinum award.
He was a finalist in Guitarist Magazine’s ‘Guitarist of the Year’ contest in 1999 and won the title in 2000. He has released an instructional video (‘Up To Speed with Chris Francis’), recorded two solo records (‘Chris Francis’ and ‘Studs n’ Sisters’), four albums with the band TEN and numerous sessions on projects big and small.

Live work between TEN and his own Chris Francis Band has taken him from the clubs and bars of England, through the halls of Japan, to the Summer Rock festivals of Europe. He is regularly invited as special guest lecturer at Thames Valley University to degree students in the London College of Music and Media and also works as an instructor and transcriber at his home in Kent. He is also regularly involved with the online guitar magazine www.alloutguitar.com where you can find articles, lessons, interviews and more by a variety of the country's top players.

Guitarist Magazine's Ben Bartlett called the debut album from Chris Francis "An incredibly diverse showcase of instrumental prowess".


Reviews


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Phil Ashcroft - Fireworks Magazine


Chris Francis is of course Vinny Burns' replacement in Ten and this is an independently recorded and released instrumental album that probably went some way to getting him the job. While some people have an aversion to this kind of guitarist's album, the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani have proved that there is a market for them, especially 'song' orientated outings like this one. That Chris is armed to the teeth with more chops than a butcher's shop is without question, but without cohesive song structure to hold it together it can sometimes be as tedious as a Herman Rarebell drum solo. Chris' style is certainly reminiscent of both Satriani and Vai with the songs being more in the simple style of Joe, and truth to tell originality isn't exactly the name of the game, but there are enough memorable melodies here to compete with any number of US counterparts. The opening duo of 'Freedom Machine' and 'The Story So Far...' have catchy infectious riffs and cool harmony parts along the lines of Satriani's most commercial stuff, like 'Summer Song' for example with the same kind of vibe. Songs like 'Thin Air' have an even more commercial air courtesy of Van Halen-type riffs, while 'C For Miles' and 'Until' are both more mellow 'mood music' affairs. The bass and drum backing (by various contributors) is well-played but ultimately designed not to be obtrusive, apart from some neat fretless bass by Russ Kennedy on 'Until', and Chris also adds some keys and programming here and there for effect. My personal favourite has to be 'Pretzels and Cheese' which is another uptempo catchy rocker with the added attraction of some off-the-wall melodies, but the guitar tone and restraint of the sparser 'Zavoov' is equally impressive. 'Daydream in Green' has some Vai-like unpredictability about it and some really over-the-top doodling despite being one of the slower songs, and 'To High Heaven' brings things to an epic close in the style of Vai's 'Liberty'.
All in all a mature album of startling consistency from an unknown British guitarist, it's no wonder Gary Hughes chose him as Vinny's successor, and I would heartily recommend it to any fan of Satriani, Vai, and guitar instrumental albums in general.

Michael "Radrocker" Debbage - The Northern Light


If you could imagine the clarity of Marc Bonilla, the versatility of Lanny Cordola and the technique of Steve Vai, then perhaps this will give you an immediate word picture of the style and panache of Chris Francis. Add in his own style and we have the ingredients of a new guitar god. This self-title debut featuring nine instrumental tracks, is a perfect place for this young man to showcase his obvious talents. Please note that I said showcase and not showboat as at the ripe young age of 25 he shows great maturity and class.
Winner of Guitarist Magazine's "Guitarist Of The Year 2000" this English born axe-master kick started his career. His next move in April of 2001 was to enter the studio and lay down tracks for this impressive eclectic solo debut that was released December of 2001. Yet before even having an opportunity to promote his solo endeavor, Francis was invited to replace veteran Vinny Burns in the melodic rock group Ten. Now Francis has the daunting task of filling Vinny Burns shoes. The evidence here is very clear that technically he is more than "up to speed" to complete the task. Perhaps even over qualified, as the writing on this debut is so impressive that it may be difficult for him to take a back seat to the prolific Gary Hughes. In addition, there is the issue of chemistry as Francis is all over the musical map while Hughes is quite the contrary.
But this review is not to focus on the future of Francis with Ten but on his first and hopefully not last solo album. The cd opens with the peeling out of car tires and the song "Freedom Machine" begins. It immediately spotlights the fine technique, clarity and tone of Francis. With two separate guitars dueling in each speaker you will be immediately impressed with this young man's ability on the guitar. Those of you that are fans of the former House Of Lords guitarist Lanny Cordola will see the immediate comparisons. The same peeling out 'freedom machine' crashes courtesy of the appropriate sound effects to close the song...cheeky. Meanwhile, "The Story So Far" has some nice harmonious guitar leads bringing an ever so brief Thin Lizzy feel at times. A bluesy bridge keeps things interesting along with some excellent Steve Vai type sound effects. The song then comes full circle returning to its faster pace.
The tease of the blues from the prior song is only a sampler for the full swing blues via the moody and temperamental "C For Miles". Here Francis shows great capabilities with his blues hat on with the song deceivingly building with intensity and color. "Until" replays this theme with an even more somber opening. Francis certainly knows how to make his guitar cry and wail yet at the same time with great melodious effect. This time his 1st bridge brings a soulful Latin feel to it keeping the listener on their toes. Even more so is the fine fretless bass work of Russ Kennedy that concludes the song.
While speaking of exotic tracks, skip forward to "Zavoov", which lives up to its unusual title. The track has a tepid jazz feel to it and even includes some piano work from Francis as well as others. It is an exquisite and quite lovely song. However, it is still not as strong as the concluding "To High Heaven". To say that this is a soaring song would not be a pun but a great word picture of an instrumental track living up to its title. The mid-tempo chords and soloing are brilliant that the only complaint would be its lack of duration. But what a great way to close the cd and leave you in awe of this new talent.
While Chris Francis will continue his initiate with his partnership with Ten, it is this reviewer's hope that he will still find time to follow up on this impressive debut. Francis could have taken the easy way out and presented a typical guitarists instrumental album, but instead he presented a more complex array of song essays. A conglomeration of music styles and genres this collage of Francis is wonderful introduction of this musician, who can play, write and produce with the best of veterans.

Lee J. Aspin - Heart Of The Rock.com


This self-titled CD is the debut release from Chris Francis and it’s a real treat for those who love guitar instrumental albums with tunes. Those people looking for a Tony McAlpine style neo-classical widdle-fest should look elsewhere. The opener, ‘Freedom Machine’ is a really high-energy piece whilst still remaining tuneful; those of you with a good ear will spot some nice Eddie Van Halen touches in the guitar-work. This is followed by ‘The Story So Far…’, which has a great twin-lead sound for its main hook (not sure if its multi-tracked or played with a chorus pedal), which is very rooted in the melodic rock field. This is excellent as it sounds like a chorus driven song, despite its lack of vocal. It also has some cool backwards stuff in the mid-section - a nice touch.
‘C For Miles’, by contrast, has a dreamy quality, reminding me very much of some stuff from ‘Nova’s Dream’, the under-rated (and probably under-purchased) masterpiece by Aldo Nova. This piece also features some 12-string acoustic playing from up-and-coming London-based musician, Rich Barnard (www.richbarnard.com). ‘Thin Air’ opens with a Van Halen style riff, so that won me over instantly; it then settles into a nice groove reminding me of Jan Cyrka and perhaps a little Joe Satriani, during one of his more interesting moments.
‘Until…’ is one of my favourites on offer here - a big ballad. This is a beautifully executed piece, which, in feel, reminds me of ‘I Remember’ from Jan Cyrka’s ‘Beyond the Common Ground’ CD from 1992. Although ‘Pretzels & Cheese’ is not my favourite thing on offer here, it’s probably one of the highlights as far as guitar virtuosity is concerned. A faster-paced number, it’s probably closest to ‘Freedom Machine’ than anything else on the CD. Again, I hear elements of Eddie Van Halen and even, perhaps, a little Steve Morse. ‘Zavoov’ slows things down, once again; it has jazz elements, a real warmth and an old-school feel, reminiscent of Jeff Beck. A special mention must also go to Paul Jacques, whose piano playing on this track is superb, sounding rather like Pink Floyd’s Richard Wright. ‘Daydream in Green’ is another mid-paced affair, though this time more riff-based. I’ll probably get hit for saying so, but it reminds me of Gary Hoey - though without the wah-wah over use.
The album’s closer, ‘To High Heaven’, clocking in at just over two minutes is the shortest piece on offer. It’s an appropriate closer, huge and majestic. A good reference point would be ‘Liberty’ from Steve Vai’s ‘Passion and Warfare’. An excellent debut - essential if you’re a guitar instrumental connoisseur, or just as essential if you like a good tune.