Monday, April 22, 2013

#656: "Reading the Credits," Part 1

(Written in September 1990 in Ankara, Turkey....)

Good morning, fellow zombies. It's 9 am & I'm just now settling down here in front of the Cyclops with a giant mug of coffee & my smokes, waiting 2 C what kinda musical delights I can turn you on2 2day.....
This is who I am. This is what I do. & I've bn doing it 4 20 years....

Euphoria's 2nd disc, A SENSE OF DIRECTION, comes sealed in a black box, like a corpse. Which is only appropriate. This moody, low-key package -- arriving only a few months after the mysterious on-stage death of Euphoria's primary composer & keybsman Kevin Alexander -- is a dark collection indeed. But there R also a couple reasons 4 real celebration inside it.
1 is the closing track, "Raindance," an Alexander/Chris Leatham piece that starts as a downbeat funeral march & turns in2 a life-affirming anthem. It features great lead-motar work from Brian Redmond, superb sax & flute from Leatham, & Xcellent support by new keybsguy Mike Page. It stands as Alexander's signature tune, & the band's best work yet.
The band's future has 2 B seriously in doubt with the loss of their creative leader -- even tho Page plays Xcellently here. He just didn't write NE of the songs. Alexander has 7 composing credits on the disc's 9 trax.
Euphoria still provides the orchestral waterfall Xplosions, massive reverberating crashes & other high-impact zonk effects they're so well-known 4 -- but there's also a search 4 new paths going on here, as the band works 2 C what their future might B.
Let's hope that search continues. Brian Redmond has always bn the leader of this band on-stage -- now it's time 4 him 2 take over as their chief creative talent, 2.

I bash up another quick, EZ, off-the-cuff review 4 NEW MUZIK, & zap it off 2 them over the Cyclops. (That last review was a bit conventional, tho. I'll havta watch that. Maybe I haven't had enuf coffee yet. Haven't quite woke-up. Perhaps I should get another cup B4 I swing in2 the next review.)
1/2adozen more reviews & I'll have earned enuf credits 2 get thru another week. The cost of living gets a little Xpensive here in the lower levels of my CubeBlock -- but at least it beats life (or what passes 4 it) in the Undercity. At least up here I have enuf room 4 all my discs, old books & computer stuff, a comfy chair (which I also sleep in), even a kitchenette. I even have a window 2 gaze out when the words don't come quite as fast as I want them 2. I spend a lot more time looking out that window than I should.
It ain't much, but when I consider that 30 or 40 levels below me -- where costs R lower & space is MUCH tighter -- it's common 4 a dozen people 2 share a cubicle ... well, then I remember how much it costs 2 STAY at this level, & I get back 2 work pounding the keys....

Gross National Product's AMERICAN GOTHIC, unlike Euphoria's latest disc, would never have bn released if Kevin Alexander were still alive.
"Alex" planned GNP as the next step in his career after he left Euphoria -- a plan he already had in the works. He claimed in some of his last interviews that the stresses involved in being part of that superb, close-2-the-edge, trailblazing zonk band had destroyed his marriage & were wrecking what was left of his life.
That's Xactly what happened, of course, & this disc will do nothing 2 improve Alexander's reputation. As if it needed NE help.
Alex said in interviews that he planned GNP as a "lighter, funnier" band than Euphoria, a sorta zonk-comedy group that "wouldn't have 2 beat an audience over the head 2 get thru 2 them."
A great idea in theory, maybe. EZ 2 appreciate as Theater, perhaps. Alexander then began hedging his bet by hiring a singer who couldn't sing & who ate live rats during shows; "discovering" motarists who didn't know how 2 play their instruments; choosing a percussionist with no sense of rhythm or backbeat; & developing other, stranger, even-more-unusual antics.
None of which made-up-4 a severe shortage of Good Tunes.
GNP opened 4 Euphoria on tour sevral times, but there was never NE real reason 2 think Alexander saw the band as NEthing more than a not-very-serious hobby. Or even a joke.
Then Alex died, & the "band" went on without him. He actually gets 2 songwriting credits on this disc, tho (as with Euphoria's latest) he died B4 playing a note here. Luckily 4 him.
Singer Dirk Vomit certainly brings a diffrent kind of voice 2 zonk, but GNP's per4mance on this disc is nothing special. & Dspite Alexander's plan 2 not bash people over the head, GNP does Xactly that -- especially on the trax Alex wrote himself. It's the same sort of undistinctive, hammering, directionless music we've heard from uncounted numbers of other zonk bands.
Alex's "Dead Babies Tango" & "Afterbirth on Toast" R both WAY beyond hideous, but Kevin shouldn't B held responsible.

Well, that 1 got a little heavy. I'll havta watch that, go 4 something a little lighter next.

Electric England's new disc, SONGS THE ZOMBIES SING, is zonk-ized British Isles folk music, & great trashy fun. If you're looking 4 an antidote 2 GNP's thud&blunder or Euphoria's (mostly) gloom&doom-saying, this is it. I've played it a dozen times already, pounding my fists on the floor along with each song, & it makes me 1 happy zombie. (U might not wanna pound 2 hard on your floors, tho -- your neighbors might throw you out!)
These Englanders didn't write a single word or note of this disc, & I don't care. Wherever they're finding these songs, it was worth the trip 2 get there.
Such trax as "Minstrels" (a rowdy British beer-drinking song with lotsa what they useta call "pub-like atmosphere" -- U can almost hear the bottles breakin & the drunks pukin in the background), "I'll Show You Another" (about taking whatever misfortunes life throws at ya head-on & not giving up), & "Keep it With Yours" (a cry-in-your-beer brokenhearted lovesong that's sorta the flip-side 2 "Minstrels") make this an Immediate Best Buy.
The band's remake of Bob Zimmerman's old electric-folk chestnut "Subterranean Homesick Blues" completely remodels the original & turns it in2 an anthem 4 this gray, gloomy century.
Singer Maria Maclennon is a newcomer 2 watch -- & she sounds very fond of her ale. The disc's backcover lists a dozen British & German beer companies under "Special Thanx."
My advice is get down 2 yer nearest disc shop & fork over the credits required 4 this item NOW. It's bound 2 B voted-4 heavily at Nd-of-the-Yr Awards Time.

I should probly note here (especially in lite of that "pounding my fists on the floor" remark in the last review) that I don't turn the music up 2 loud when I'm reviewing, tho sometimes it's hard 2 resist. Often I wear earphones, tho sometimes you just GOTTA hear the sounds bounce off the walls....
Nothing would please me more -- from a pure Zombie Attitude standpoint -- on those occasional Bad Days when the words just won't come, than 2 crank the volume up 2 10 & shake the walls, blast the glass outta the 1 window I have....
But if the volume gets 2 loud, the folks in the cubicles all around me start pounding on their walls, ceilings & floors.
I pay Xtra 2 hava window, but I can't bribe my neighbors enuf 2 make them ignore the music. Ghod knows I've tried....
As 4 old-style headphones, well, they just don't work that well 4 me. I've always thot music needs a room 2 kick around in, however impotently. Headphones & earphones soften & miniaturize the sound, so what U get ends up sounding like a wind-up-toy zonk band. They distort the listening Xperience, so my reviews of Really Loud Stuff probly get distorted just a little bit. But it can't B helped.
I'd get a HeadSet if I could afford 1 -- the cassette compartment is installed right in2 yer cranium, the music flows directly in2 the hearing centers in yer brain, nobody outside yer head can hear a thing, & it'd certainly speed up the reviewing process. I could zap the music directly in2 my head at whatever volume I chose, & my neighbors would keep the quiet they seem 2 require.
NEW MUZIK should pay 4 it. Ghod Knows I've Earned It. But they refuse. I can barely make payments on this cubicle as it is, & I've never bn far enuf ahead 2 afford the surgery.
So instead I sit here by the window, in front of the Cyclops, let a little gray, muted sunshine & semi-fresh (at least compared 2 my cubicle) air in, turn the music up 2 about 4, & listen. & when I come up with something that's 1/2way intelligent & mostly in English, I bash it in2 the keyboard & send it off 2 NEW MUZIK. & a few minutes later my fellow zombies Out There R reading it.
It keeps the credits flowing in, however slowly. It ain't romantic, but it's the only thing I know how 2 do well. Ask my X-wife.
& at least I get the discs for free....

(2 B Continued....)

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