Jim Allchin’s debut CD
Enigma was released in 2009, only two years
after he decided to become a full-time musician and
it showed a little of the potential of this guy.
This latest CD, Overclocked (Sandy Key
Music), takes the story forward to a new chapter,
and shows how many facets this musician has to his
The CD contains 13 original
songs by Allchin, performed by the band, which
consists of Jim Allchin on guitar and vocals, backed
by Chris Leighton and Ben Smith on drums, Garey
Shelton on bass, Ty Bailie and David Gross on
keyboards, Scott MacPherson on tenor sax assisted by
the New York Brass, and Glenn Lorbeck on rhythm
guitar. Backing vocals are supplied by Martin Ros,
Mycle Wastman and Keely Whitney.
The title track, “Overclocked,”
is the opener, and unfortunately it opens up with
some faux crackle as though it’s a ‘50s vinyl – this
gimmick was done to death 15 years ago and I didn’t
like it then, even less now! However, it doesn’t
detract from some excellent music, a heavy rocking
blues that sets the listener’s ears alight.
A jazzy “Willow Tree” follows,
and this morphs into “Back In The Swamp” and then
into another rocking blues “Don’t Tell me What To
Do.” Track five, “One For The Money,” has Keely
Whitney on vocals, and this shows her great voice to
much better effect than you can hear on the backing
vocals. She also handles the vocals on a later
track, “Perfect Game.”
The CD continues with a mix of
styles and tempos, before slowing down with the
melodic closing track “Opening My Eyes To Love,” an
instrumental that could easily have come from the
Gary Moore songbook.
There isn’t really a strictly
blues track on this CD, although there is some
really proficient rocking blues, and it you like
that style of music, then you will undoubtedly like
this CD. The CD is also a good showcase for the
talents of a very good musician in Jim Allchin.
Being the technological doofus that I am, I first
listened to Overclocked, the new CD by
guitarist Jim Allchin, with nary a clue as to
his identity. I had no idea that Allchin is a former
executive for Microsoft, who stepped down in 2007 to
become a full-time musician. Upon learning of
Allchin’s true identity, it made no difference in my
assessment of his talents or his latest
recording……both are jaw-droppingly impressive.
However, Allchin is no newcomer to music. As a
youngster growing up in rural Florida, working a
dirt farm with his family in the late ’50s and ’60s,
he was inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix, and
learned to play trumpet and, eventually, guitar.
Struggling as a musician, he ended up going back to
school to study Computer Science and found himself
at Microsoft in 1990. After a health scare in 2003,
Allchin decided to return to music in order to “make
sure I do all the things I want to do.”
The title track opens the disc, starting out with a
somewhat restrained guitar shuffle intro that
suddenly explodes into a hurricane-force electric
havoc……an excellent way to kick things off. The
breezy, swinging “Willow Tree,” is next, replete
with horns and smooth background singers and
Allchin’s smoking guitar. “Back in the Swamp” is a
catchy Chicago-style shuffle, while the feisty
“Don’t Tell Me What to Do” is a Texas shuffle like
SRV used to play.
The slow blues “One for the Money” is one of two
tracks that features guest vocalist Keely Whitney
(the other, “Perfect Game,” is a pop-styled duet)
and a solo from Allchin that had to have left his
strings smoking. “Fall” is a soulful instrumental
and “Dr. J,” about a older musician sitting in with
a band, rocks as hard as anything on the disc. “Mr.
Unknown” revisits the days of classic R&B and allows
Allchin a chance to show his formidable vocal chops.
“Flirt” is an uninhibited rocker.
“Just Playin’ With Me” brings things back to the
blues and redefines the word “uptempo,” with a wild
sax break and even wilder guitar solo not far. “The
One” is a cleverly-written slow blues, and the
soaring instrumental, “Opening My Eyes To Love,”
ends things on a lovely note.
Allchin’s guitar work is just incredible and his
vocals are smooth. He’s surrounded himself with an
impressive set of musicians, including Ben Smith and
Chris Leighton (drums), Garey Shelton (bass), Ty
Bailie and David Gross (keys), two marvelous horn
sections (one in Seattle and one in New York), Glenn
Lorbecki (rhythm guitar) and background vocalists
Martin Ros, Mycle Wastman, and Keely Whitney.
We often see people that are successful in other
ventures do vanity projects in fields that they’re
interested in, but not necessarily gifted enough to
pursue otherwise if they weren’t successful
elsewhere. Rest assured that this is not the case
with Jim Allchin. One can only wonder how much
farther along his career would be if he hadn’t
stopped momentarily to dabble in the computer
software business. Blues fans and guitar geeks will
want to get their hands on this disc immediately.
--- Graham Clarke