So, when I was a teenage guitarist, we were all supposed to want to be Eddie Van Halen. Or, if you were of a bit more cerebral bent, Joe Satriani.
I will admit to spending my fair share of time poring over the tablature for "Eruption" and fumbling along to "Satch Boogie". But if you'd asked me who I really wanted to be as a guitarist, the honest heartfelt answer would have been one of three names: Jimmy Page, Kim Thayil, or Simon Hinkler.
Jimmy Page should need no explanation, and the delights of Kim Thayil's awesomely sludgy riffing for Soundgarden are material for another post. But I'm guessing that Simon Hinkler is not a household name for most of you. Hinkler was the guitarist for The Mission U.K., who were The Most Important Band In The World to me when I was 14. And 15. And 16.
Given that I was such a big fan of The Mission, Hinkler would have been my guitar idol even if all he'd ever done was bash out C-major chords and look pretty in a hat. However, I think he's a genuinely underrated guitarist. He has a great sense of melody and tempo. He builds these lovely guitar riffs that slowly spiral upwards to a crescendo, come skittering down in a flurry of notes, and then wallop you with a final triumphant chord. And he has a very distinctive sound - I heard an interviewer recently use the term, "Hinklertronics" for the presumed signal processing wizardry that produces that sound. As far as I can tell, it's all pretty standard off-the-shelf stuff: a bit of reverb, a bit of overdrive. Somehow it comes together to sound like Simon Hinkler, and no one else.
In 1991, Hinkler left The Mission U.K., and basically left the music industry. (He recorded one solo album, entitled "Lose the Faith", which flew completely under my radar when it was released. I still haven't heard it.) I gather that he moved to America and worked in the tech industry. The Mission U.K. went on to release a bunch more albums, but they all sounded to me like something was missing.
Anyway, circumstances have changed, and Simon Hinkler is back in England, and was recently coaxed back on stage with his old bandmates for a series of concerts for The Mission U.K.'s 25th anniversary. Even more excitingly, The Eden House invited Hinkler to record guitar parts on a few songs with them. The first of these tracks, "Neversea", is out now on the group's Timeflows
EP. I think that this is an awesome song, but I must confess that I am not entirely sure, because I may be too busy bouncing up and down at hearing the first brand-new Simon Hinkler guitar solo that I have heard in 20 years to really listen properly. Tell me what you think.
If you like what you hear, you can buy the entire Timeflows
EP as a high-quality download
. Or wait for the CD, which comes out next week.