Randy Krbechek's Metronews
May 7, 1997
From Rockgod to Redneck
Fat Headed Stranger (Mouth
1996) - Heading up Mercury's new Mouth Almighty imprint is Fat
Headed Stranger. The product of a 30-something Austinite who
acknowledges that he looks "more and more like Gregg Allmann
every day," Fat Headed Stranger is an off-the-wall piece
with few peers.
Produced by Timbuk 3's Barbara K, Fat Headed Stranger
features spoken word performances (ooh, that dreaded phrase) wrapped around
jaunty musical interludes. Wammo talks about music, he talks about pop
culture, he talks about Charles
Bukowski drinking beer, he talks about Batman,
he talks about sex. He talks about anything, really, and therein lies
much of his appeal.
Wammo has played in numerous alternative bands, including the Asylum Street
Spankers, and has strong punk roots. In fact, those punk roots got Wammo
fired from at least one DJ gig. As he recalls, "I was playing the B-52's
'Planet Claire.' That's hardly an aggressive song, but the manager came
up to me yelling, 'You've got to stop playing this punk rock sh--.' And
I was like, 'You want to hear some punk rock?' So I played the Butthole
Surfers' 'The Shaw Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave.' The firing
Veering from rockgod to redneck, Wammo never slows down. The comparisons
are few; Jim Morrison on An American Prayer
[Wammo includes a Morrison tribute called "The Walls Smile (for J.D.M.)"],
Jim Carroll on 1991's Praying Mantis,
Laurie Anderson, and William S. Burrows
come to mind. If you want something different (and that's what "alternative"
is supposed to mean), go for Fat Headed Stranger.
Morrison, The Healing Game (Polydor
1997) - Like an old friend, Van Morrison never disappoints, even when
he doesn't deliver his strongest material. The Healing Game
is a workmanlike recording, with occasional bright spots.
Van is joined by such familiar bandmates as Nicky Scott
on base, Brian Kennedy on backing vocals, and Matt
Holland on trumpet. Also appearing on one song ("Piper at the
Gates of Dawn") is Paddy Maloney, who contributes uilleann
pipes & whistle. Paddy is a member of the Chieftains,
with whom Van made his landmark 1988 album, Irish Heartbeat.
While Van denies that his songs have autobiographical influences, tracks
like "This Weight" and "It Once Was My Life" lend themselves to such interpretations.
Also appearing on roughly half the songs is organist and bandmaster, Georgie
Fame. All of Van's best recordings in the last decade have featured
Georgie Fame, whose influence cannot be underestimated. When Georgie helps
Van find his groove on such cuts as "Fire in the Belly" and the title
track, The Healing Game really gets rolling. Though it's
not as consistent as we've come to expect from Van the Man.
Mundy, Jelly Legs (Epic
1997) - Jelly Legs is the major label debut for Mundy,
a talented 21-year-old singer/songwriter from Ireland. With slick production
work by Youth (formerly of Killing Joke),
the 12 songs on Jelly Legs have a solid pop-rock sound.
Mundy is back by Cion O'Callaghan on drums and percussion,
Shane Fitzsimons on bass, and Stephen Farrell
on guitar. The album is very much the work of a band: Mundy does not overwhelm
Again, Epic has added one of its wonderful CD extras to Jelly
Legs. On Jelly Legs, the focus is on the song,
"To You I Bestow," a pretty good rock song.
Ever Since I Was a Kid (Work
1997) - The Seattle-based trio of Protein also benefits from Sony's CD
extra treatment. With a sound that merges grunge with 80's metal (Ratt
and Judas Priest are big influences), Protein can bang
heads with the best of them.
The members of Protein grew up in San Rafael (north of San Francisco),
and have been playing together for years. Josh Zee contributes
vocals and guitars, Dan Thompson plays drums, and Russ
Violet handles bass.
The trio enjoyed a (probably) typical Marin County upraising. Josh (whose
father is a professional folk musician) remembers one of the turning points
of his life. "One day I was over at a friend's house getting stoned --
I was probably about 11 or 12 -- he put on 'Go Down' by AC/DC
and turned it up really loud. When I heard Angus Young's
guitar sound, that changed my life. To this day, he's my favorite guitar
The CD-extra section on Ever Since I Was a Kid is different
from Mundy, in that it's really a five-to-seven minute promotional piece
for the band. In addition to faux interviews with the band members, the
CD-extra section also includes clips from the songs, "Obligations" and
"Refrigerator" (inspired by an old episode of Gomer Pyle).
If you like your metal with a 90's spin, you'll dig Ever Since
I Was a Kid.
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1997) - Sabelle is another dance-hall diva, albeit with a difference -
the lady favors lions. The CD extra section on Sabelle
has two components; a biography, and the video clip for "One O'Clock."
This CD-extra section is weak: the bio doesn't have any music, and the
video opens with Sabelle brushing her teeth.
Every new release from Sony (that's Columbia, Epic, 550 Music, and Work)
is worth a listen and a watch. And they show the way of the future.
-- Randy Krbechek
(c) Randy Krbechek
David Anand Prasad.