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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jerry Harrison - Red and the Black~ & Casual Gods*

Name: Jerry Harrison
Albums: The Red & the Black~, Casual Gods*
Years: 1981~,1987*
Style: New Age New Wave~ Synth Rock*
Similar Bands: Talking Heads, Brand X~, Max Rebo Band (Star Wars)~, Lou Reed, INXS*
"One-Word" Review: Buried-funk-rock-under-overdatop-synth
Based Out Of: Milwaukee, WI
Label: Sire, WEA Records, Warner, Warner Bros*

The Red & the Black - Cover & Insert
The Red & the Black - Back & Insert
The Red & the Black - Record
Casual Gods - Cover, Liner Notes & Tape
Casual Gods - Inner Photo
The Red & the Black (1981)
  1. Things Fall Apart 5:03
  2. Slink 4:22
  3. The New Adventure 5:07
  4. Magic Hymie 4:52/
  5. Fast Karma/No Questions 4:00
  6. Worlds In Collision 5:09
  7. The Red Nights (Instrumental) 4:02
  8. No More Reruns 4:27
  9. No Warning, No Alarm 3:36
Casual Gods (1987)
  1. Rev It Up 4:17
  2. Song Of Angels 3:35
  3. Man With A Gun 4:35
  4. Let It Come Down 4:52
  5. Cherokee Cheif 4:20 /
  6. A Perfect Lie 4:25
  7. Are you Running? 4:20
  8. Breakdown in the Passing Lane 4:36
  9. AKA Love 4:10
  10. We're Always Talking 4:40
  11. Bobby 4:03
Album Rating (1-10): ~5.0 *6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Jerry Harrison - Vox, Produced, Arrangements, Guitar, Bass, Synth, Clavinet, organ, piano, Melodica, Percussion, Mixing, Sleeve Design, Cover Photo~*(Modern Lovers, Talking Heads, Bonzo Goes to Washington, The Flying Hearts)
Dave Jerden - Producer, Engineering, Mixing~
Nona Hendryx - Backing Vox, Arrangement, Lyrics~
Bernie Worrell - Organ, Clavinet, Synth,~Bass Synth*,
Yogi Hornton - Drums~*
John Cooksey - Drums~
Steve Scales - Drums, Percussion~
Georde Murray - Bass~
Tinker Barfield - Bass~
Adrian Belew - Guitar~
Dolette McDonald - Backing Vox~
Koko Mae Evans - Backing Vox~
Butch Jones - Engineering~
Eddy Schreyer - Mastering~
M& Co - Sleeve Design~*
Chris Callis - Cover Photo~
Ernie Brooks - Asst. Producer, Songwriting, Vox*
John Sieger - Songwriting*
Arthur Russell - Songwriting, Vox*
Monique Dayan - Songwriting, Vox*
Alex Weir - Guitars, Bass*
Chris Spedding - Bass*
Robbie Mcintosh - Bass*
Rick Jaeger - Drums*
David Van Tieghem - Drums, Percussion*
Jim Liban - Harmonica*
Dickie Landr - Sax*
Arlene Holmes - Vox*
Lovelace Redmond - Vox*
Joyce Bowden - Vox*
David Vartanian - Recording, Overdubs, Mixing*
Jay Mark - Recording, Mixing*
Dave Avidor - Overdubs*
Robin Lane - Overdubs*
Eric E.T. Thorngren - Overdubs, Mixer*
John "Tokes" Potoker - Overdubs, Mixer, Additional Engineering*
J.C. Covertino - Overdubs*
Don Peterkosky - Asst Studio*
Nick Delre - Asst. Studio*
Tony Masciarotte - Asst. Studio*
Mark Roule - Asst. Studio*
Fernando Kral - Asst. Studio*
Stan Katayama - Can Am*
Tom Vercillo - Sountrack
Bob Brackman - Soundtrack*
Jack Skinner - Mastering*
Sebastiao Salgado/Magnum - Photography*
Gary Kurfirst - Management*

Unknown-ness: I was not familiar with him when I bought the record and tape. It was only after I looked up information that I realized he was in Talking Heads, whom I like, but am not a huge fan of obviously. I got the record first because of the usual draws: its artwork and year. The repetitive nature of the album name and the stylized photo of Jerry on the front stood out from the rest of the records. It looks like an album full of energy with the Chinese-styled sunburst on the back. And 1981 was the tail end of the great new wave/rock records that I like. Knowing the Talking Heads ties, I can only hope for their earlier style, but looking at the song lengths, they will probably be the (still good) percussion driven, drawn out style of latter Heads stuff. And as far as Casual Gods, I got it because I recognized the name from the record I had just bought, still not knowing the TH connection.

Album Reviews: ~“Things Fall Apart” starts off with some xylophone and tribal beats mixed together with standard drum. The grooving, danceable bass begins with the jangley repetitive guitar. His moderately deep vocals are reserved, sounding like he’s leaving off the last syllable of the lyrics as he rushedly sings. A chorus of female vocals backs him up. They rise in energy together and settle back, paralleling each other. Synth and electronic sounds glide around, and sound like 80’s new wave jokes in its production, rather than bringing the funky element I’m assuming they were going for. “Slink” is next, with funky Talking Heads style rhythms, and vocal performance both from Jerry and the female chorus. The music is splattered with the 80’s over-the-top synth production. I really can’t believe this is not a talking heads song, and I guess that is just a hat tip to how important Harrison is to the Head’s sound. “The New Adventure” begins with high pitch vocals echoing as they fade in. More laughable synth effects add. I mean, what is that supposed to be: A trumpet, sax, or just a weird keyboard? The vocals are tired, but calculated, alas, they are not to my liking as they don’t flow very smoothly over the off-tempo song. There is a sitar sounding instrument used for part of the song, and the nonchalant vocals return, part joy division, part Lou reed in their seemingly non-existent effort. It fades out without any notice, and “Magic Hymie” begins. A sparse, yet funky bass beat leads into a drum fill that starts a song that sounds like something out of Return of the Jedi: Jabba’s Palace. There are oddly placed vocals and samples layered deeply on the track, and it really just chaotically runs over the steady drums and bass beat. It is impossible to reference all the style changes and idiosyncrasies that draw and quarter the song in different style directions.

“Fast Karma/No Questions” begins the second side with a more refined style with its funky bass and keyboard beat over steady drumming. The lead vocals are mixed with echoing reverb. It never strays from the basic rhythm, even if it displays some energy filled vocals toward the end, the music carries it well. It fades into the next song, “Worlds In Collision.” A humming, metallic bass beat, combined with an industrial sounding drum beat and spoken vocals give way to a funky Stevie Wonder style keyboard section. It then reverts back and forth between the two styles, continuing with the monotone, barely sung vocals. Dog barking is added, along with a soaring synth guitar sound. It is one part Russian Propaganda recreation and one part Van Halen played as a midi file. The song breaks down at the end to the point where it should just end, and it fades out, but right into the instrumental “The Red Nights.” It is an ethereal, hollow song, like new age relaxation music. It is aquatic sounding and like a whispering wind through the trees at the same time. Cue some chanting female vocals and rock metal guitar mixed low in the back, and you have yourself a perfect musical accompaniment to those black t-shirts the dirty kids wore in high school with a wizard summoning lighting bolts while perched on a mountain top. A driving, alarm sounding guitar and grooving bass beat fade in at the start of “No More Reruns.” The vocals are more sung here than they have been in the past, kinda like a deeper version of The Walkmen. It is a good song, but it comes off a little long, with a long fade out to boot. “No Warning, No Alarm” starts out strong, but the synth production of the time period drag it down, and away from the solid Talking Heads song it could sound like. The vocals are a type of chant rapping, and keep the rhythm going. He breaks out with some good singing vocals for the chorus, supported by the choir of female vocals. Lead metal guitar (courtesy of Adrian Belew) solos come in for no real reason, detracting rather than adding to the song. But even as it ends the album, it is the most consistent, and funky song on the record. And it too features a long fade out as the record ends.

* “Rev It Up” is the first song on the tape. And instead of the stereotypical synth sound, we first hear a very tinny guitar strummed and echoing drums. This is more straightforward without all the superfluous production. There is still a huge Talking Heads style presence here. And then the squeaky synth keyboards play their annoying, grating solo. “Song Of Angels” begins with techno dance synthesizer and morphs into a light OMD ballad, yet still with the funky beat. The vocals are reminiscent of David Byrne, especially with the female chorus supporting his voice. Part Lou Reed, part Robyn Hitchcock, “Man With A Gun” quietly creeps along with catchy guitar hooks, and proud, smooth vocals. A second comparison of the vocals could be made to Flight of the Conchords’ Jermaine, when he tries to sound mature and knowledgeable. It is a good song too, though. Drum Machine sounding percussion and back to the first album’s synth sounds start “Let It Come Down.” The vocals here sound like Michael Hutchence when his vocals were calm and reserved. It also sounds a bit like the Dire Straits, but I fear that I compare most things that sound like this to them, so I’ll just end the comparison there. Right as the song gets set to build up, it fades out. “Cherokee Chief” is a growling metallic synthesizer, dirty and shady in its sound. It is a barroom stomp, driving and motivated by the static drum beat. Toward the end, he totally breaks into a David Byrne chorus chant. It sounds identical to a myriad of TH songs. And it fades out.

“A Perfect Lie” enters with a typical bass beat and jittery reggae organ synth. Here, Harrison shares the vocals with female back ups that come to the front. It feels very simplistic, especially given the back catalogue of what we’ve co-me to expect on these albums. Sure, a loud guitar solo fills some space, and his vocals are much more melodic than the first record, but the percussion leaves an empty feeling for the song. It seems the same bass beat continues into the next track “Are You Running?” It has the same formula of dual vocals and odd synth sounds in minimal usage. The synth sounds would not be out of place in video games, especially Sonic the Hedgehog. Adding extra echo & reverb to the vocals, “Breakdown in the Passing Lane” loses no time in picking up the slow funky yet simple dance beat. The song evolves into another INXS type song played to the musak genre. Oh, but there is a harmonica in this one. And there is a long, well, breakdown that features an “I Just Called To Say I Love You” era Stevie Wonder sound. More echoing synth effects splatter on the front end of “AKA Love.” As the album is more melodic, that mindset is quickly fading into nonsense as most of these synth music numbers are stripped of their thick, full complex sound, and instead come off as abridged samples, where the high or low end of the stereo is tuned out, leaving out crucial sections of the production. Perhaps the album is just 2-3 songs too long. A cold drum beat along with a catchy vocal melody introduce “We're Always Talking” and it leads into an even catchier chorus. The synthesizers do not draw attention away from the dark dance beat of the track. But then around 2:30, the synth effects are introduced as a buzzing assortment of distraction, and offer reason to be turned off from the song. But the chorus is perhaps the catchiest thing on either album. The final track, (also repeated as an un-reviewed remix on the album) “Bobby” possesses a liquid bubbling effect acting as the bass. There is nothing else much to the song except the slightly tribal percussive synthesized beats. It feels very minimal and empty of production. The vocals are calmly uttered, with injections of shouts and emotion along the body of the song after the first 2 minutes. Synth keys begin around 2:30, and the song slightly grows thicker. The vocal is distorted with a barrage of effects, really, whatever seems to be found as keyboard functions, one at a time. The album winds down with what sounds like a distorted didgeridoo swirling like it is flowing down a bathtub drain.

Stand Out Tracks: ~No Warning, No Alarm



  1. pon los mp3 desgraciado mierda

  2. sucker...stupid and the mp3 ?? idiot cojudo de mierda