Playing sideman to Rick Braun, Larry Carlton, Gato Barbieri, the Neville Brothers, and many others introduced guitarist/vocalist Steve Oliver to smooth jazz fans, but it was with Steve Reid's band that Oliver found a following. It was 1996 when Reid contacted Oliver at the last minute to fill in for a canceled opening act. Oliver hit the stage as a solo act and Reid was impressed with the guitarist's vocalese skills and summery sound. Oliver had come to vocalese not through King Pleasure or Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, but through Bobby McFerrin and Pat Metheny's work with Richard Bona and David Blamires, who sang along with guitar solos. Being a fan of the earthy Metheny sound, Reid hired Oliver after the gig and featured him in his touring band. Reid's Mysteries and Passion in Paradise albums featured Oliver not only as guitarist but songwriter as well. Oliver struck out on his own in 1999 with his debut, First View, released by Night Vision. The album spawned three hit singles on smooth jazz radio and earned the guitarist a Debut Artist of the Year award from Smooth Jazz News.
Flashback is the second box set compilation by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), released in 2000. In 2000, Jeff Lynne found a new impetus to work on the music of his old band and returned to the recording studio to work on an ELO project for the first time in some 15 years just prior to the comeback album Zoom in 2001. This work resulted in a digitally remastered compilation released in late 2000. Unlike its predecessors, this project, Flashback, was personally approved and endorsed by Lynne. The set includes songs featured from all 11 studio albums up to that point, including an edit of "Great Balls of Fire" from their live album The Night the Light Went On in Long Beach, plus some new recordings amongst the band's extensive back catalog, most notably a reworking of Lynne's only UK number one hit "Xanadu". The album includes liner notes by David Wild with quotes on each song from Lynne and a booklet inside.
Some Peter Green fans might be put off by this 64-song/four-CD collection, owing to the fact that they are likely to already own a significant chunk of what's here (especially the Fleetwood Mac material). (And in fairness, there apparently isn't a lot of – or any – unreleased material to draw on from Green's classic period with the band). But this reviewer had to spring for this four-and-a-half hour showcase of his work, and for one major reason – vitality. Green's virtuosity is a given, and his taste and his insights into blues and what can be done with it – while still leaving it as blues – are well known to anyone who's heard his work. But what the makers have done here is to truly assemble his finest, most energetic and inspired work across over 35 years and well over four hours' listening time, into a collection that's greater than the sum of its parts – in that regard, this set rivals the Eric Clapton Crossroads retrospective, except that doing this set took a bit more courage, as Green hasn't gotten nearly the publicity for his musicianship that Clapton has for his across the last four decades.