JENNIFER BATTEN – Above Below And Beyond [Re-Release]

JENNIFER BATTEN - Above Below And Beyond [Re-Release]
  • 9/10
    JENNIFER BATTEN - Above Below And Beyond [Re-Release] - 9/10


Lion Music
Release date: June 20, 2008

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

1992 was just about the time the male dominated instrumental Neo-Classical Fusion rage was hitting its pinnacle. It was the year that guitarists like Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore had two or three successful albums behind them and newcomers like Greg Howe were growing in stature. Back then no male guitar aficionado in his right mind would admit to admiring a female guitarist in this same “arena” or even including her in the same discussion as the aforementioned “boys’ club”.

Jennifer Batten, a G.I.T. graduate, was a name being battered around for quite awhile by 1992. Her rise in popularity was actually in the works years before then as her name was whispered from the guitar underground and she started to show up in guitar magazines, like Guitar Player, as early as 1984. A major break for her, and one that would cause “Metalheads”, even today, to turn their noses up at, was her being selected to play in Michael Jackson’s touring band. She toured with Jackson for a year and a half in front of over four million people in what was perhaps the biggest stage show at the time.

Jennifer wasted no time after the Bad tour finished to work on her debut solo album with renowned, non-Metal, producer and Stevie Wonder guitarist, Michael Sembello (one of his claims to fame being his song “Maniac”, which has seen coverage by a few Metal bands this year i.e. Firewind and Antenora). The result was Above Below And Beyond which was originally released in 1992 and is now seeing re-release by Lion Music in 2008 as a follow-up to Batten’s newest release Whatever.

This predominately guitar instrumental release has aged well and sounds fresh even after sixteen years. This release is fourteen tracks, of sometimes slightly quirky, but very aggressive playing by Batten. If you’re a guitar aficionado and have forgone this release for the last sixteen years because of gender (i.e. “a girl can’t play” attitude) then you have sorely missed out on an exceptional offering!

The release starts with a stereotypical, but still entertaining, version of Batten’s “Flight Of The Bumble Bee” before tearing into the high throttle “Ya Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Fast Car” with voiceovers replete with voice box (hence the “quirky”). Not surprisingly, Batten does a cover version of a Michael Jackson track but her likeable, Rock rendition of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” might have you second guessing whether it’s really the same Jackson tune. The only real vocal track is Otis Redding’s “Respect”, made famous by Aretha Franklin, but it remains true to the spirit of this guitar-oriented release and is very listenable. The highlight of this disc though is the very MER worthy “Headbanger’s Hairspray” (sounds like a familiar Metal Express Radio show!). This is a full out and out shred fest that proves how accomplished a guitarist Batten was back then as the song’s highly memorable guitar oriented “chorus” opens with a well placed false harmonic. This is followed by the guitar histrionics of the track entitled “Whammy Damage”… simply great stuff!

Bottom line, if you’re a guitar fanatic or a lover of instrumental Rock, and you don’t already own this release (shame on you), then it’s a no brainer… a definite must buy! From end to end there are just too many wondrous moments of Batten’s playing to count! It all adds up to a terrific outing that should hold the attention of Steve Vai and Van Halen-esque guitar fans alike. It’s no mystery why Batten’s name always comes up as a premier female musician role model as this gal can play with the big boys (and outdoes a majority of them)!


Jennifer Batten – Guitars, Arranging, Vocoder, Voice Box
Michael Sembello – Arranging /Vocoder
Stephen Klong – Drums
Andre Berry – Bass
Greg Philingaines – Piano and Bass on “Giant Steps”
Michele Rohl – Lead Vocal on “Respect”


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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