November 23, 1994
Jack Logan, Bulk (Medium Cool Records 1994) -- Holy smokes! Here's one of the most amazing double-disc sets you'll ever find. Consisting of 42 songs (and clocking in at a hefty 2:17), Bulk taps the rich lode of previously unknown singer and songwriter, Jack Logan. Consisting essentially demo tapes recorded over a ten year period, Bulk will blow your mind.
Logan, a 35-ear-old mechanic living in Georgia, has been writing and recording songs for years (when not drawing in his spare time) with his buddies and fellow musicians (his "enablers"), including Kelly Keneipp, his closest musical compatriot. Logan and Keneipp grew up in southern Illinois near the Kentucky border, and have long been into music, model hot-rod cars, and cartoons.
Now living in Georgia, Logan apparently cranks up his home tape deck whenever the muse strikes. Logan's songs are populated with drifters and societal square-pegs (in a round world); with his Southern leanings, Logan is also aware of the dangers and distortions that can result from a myopic spirituality and overly-narrow set of beliefs.
The scope of music on Bulk is so broad as to defy description. Many of the tracks have an unfinished feel, which is not surprising, considering they were called from over 600 songs originally set to Peter Jesperson, the head of Medium Cool Records. When asked about Logan's style, head-honcho Jesperson says he can hear "Hank Williams, Joy Division, the Rolling Stones, you know, that kind of thing."
But there's lots more, including the influences of The Velvet Underground ("Shrunken Head"), The Doors ("Underneath Your Bed"), and Muddy Waters ("Lazy Girl Blues"). In fact, if you listen closely to the whole album, you'll probably pick up vibes from just about every major rock or blues act.
Which only goes to show that there's a web that unifies rock music. Though we're often pulled from it by disco and techno, classic rock and blues are far from dead. Logan's a home-grown talent who makes music because he loves it. And that's what it's really all about. We need more of this stuff. Buy American. Buy Bulk. Long live rock.
Greg Kihn, Mutiny (Clean Cuts/Rounder Records 1994) -- Now in his 40s, Bay-Area rocker Greg Kihn made a pop splash in the early 80s with his pun-titled albums, such as Kihnspiracy and Kihntinued, released on Beserkley Records. In more recent years, Greg has remained active on the West Coast club and bar scene.
However, few know that Kihn originally started playing on the Atlantic seaboard. On Mutiny, Kihn returns to his roots; many of the 14 cuts have an East Coast working man's feel that recalls the traditionals of the last century. With a fair mix of pop-oriented blues originals from Kihn, Mutiny makes for an interesting disc.
Kihn's East Coast roots are little known, as he was spotted by an executive from Beserkley Records (a Bay Area label) early in his career and spirited to the West Coast, where he soon became a fixture. With his fine studio technique, Kihn's biggest hits (such as "Jeopardy" and "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em That Way Any More)" are solid examples of early 80s pop/new wave material.
Kihn's blues abilities were always overlooked; with classic songs like "Madison Blues" (1977) and "Lucky" (from 1984's much-overlooked Citizen Kihn), Kihn showed that his skills ran deeper than straight pop. Unfortunately, after he signed to EMI Records in the mid-80s, the label attempted to homogenize his sound in an effort to transform him into another Bryan Ferry. This effort failed badly; as a result, Kihn became disenchanted with the rock scene and ceased working in the studio for several years.
In fact, Mutiny is Kihn's first new studio album in eight years. The album opens with an a capella reading of the World War I battle song "Blood Red Roses;" this antiquated (and still chilling) call to gallantry leads into the fresh original number, "Mutiny on the Bounty" (yes, it's the story of treason on the high seas). While "Mutiny" reads like it could have written two centuries ago, Kihn's delivery and harmony vocals are fresh contemporary pop.
Kihn shines brightest on his original numbers, such as "The Anniversary of my Broken Heart" (a comic/bittersweet tune co-written with the late Steve Goodman) and the gentle love song, "Shot in the Dark." Other covers on the album are "Femme Fatale," a terrific song by Lou Reed that was resurrected on last year's live Velvet Underground set (Kihn obviously has an ear for a great tune), and "Joshua Gone Barbados," a traditional song about a sugar cane workers' revolt in Haiti.
In some ways, Mutiny recalls the pop/historical epic vein worked for years with style and grace by Al Stewart. Mutiny is a broad-ranging collection; with blues, traditional, and pop cuts, it takes a little while to get used to. However, the time spent is well rewarded. Proving that old rockers do not have to just fade away, Mutiny is an unexpected treat.
Cover Your Equipment -- When Bob Mould of Sugar was interviewed in 1992, he gave the following report on his hearing:
A: "I have this thing every night when I go to bed. I have to leave the TV up really loud because my head's ringing so bad. It goes, 'zzzzzzzzzzzzz.' If I turn the TV up, I don't hear it as much."
Q: "How long has this TV thing been going on?"
A: "Uh, since, like, '82. I'm starting to get a little worried."
-- Randy Krbechek
Copyright (c) Randy Krbechek
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