Lullaby to a Traffic Jam (12/04/98)
Jackyl, Choice Cuts (Geffen 1998) - Unabashed rock & rollers Jackyl have delivered Choice Cuts, a 15-track greatest hits collection. The album features all of Jackyl's hit singles, along with covers of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band" and the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus." Also included is the previously unreleased, "Mister, Can You Spare a Dime?"
Says frontman Jesse Dupree, "We never recorded a record in the 80's. We never wore eyeliner. We never did a slow-motion video, nor a power ballad. And we damn sure ain't an alternative band. If anything, we're a country band cranked up to 11. Straight up rock & roll."
Rounding out Jackyl are Jeff Worley (guitar), Jimmy Stiff (guitar), Chris Worley (drums) and Tom Bettini (bass).
Jackyl formed in Atlanta in 1991, and hit platinum paydirt a year later with their Brendan O'Brien-produced, self-titled debut. The band's hits include "I Stand Alone" and "Push Comes to Shove."
Choice Cuts also includes "The Lumberjack," which includes the outrageous chainsaw that forms part of Jackyl's act. Asks Dupree, "What better instrument for rock & roll than a chainsaw? It's loud, abrasive, destructive and it smells. It makes every show eventful. I've had 22 stitches from that son of a bitch - don't tell me that rock & roll isn't dangerous!"
For a selection of 90's rock & roll, get Choice Cuts.
Deborah Coleman, Where Blue Begins (Blind Pig Records 1998) - Blues guitarist Deborah Coleman returns with her second release, Where Blue Begins. With her strong guitar work, Coleman has real potential.
Coleman was born in Virginia, but lived in such diverse locations as San Diego, Washington, and Chicago with her military family. Coleman set aside her music career at age 25 to concentrate on raising her daughter and working as a nurse. Says Deborah, "I raised a family, held a 9-to-5 job, then finally decided to play music full time."
On the new album, Coleman is joined by James Solberg on guitar, Mike Vlahakis on keyboards, John Lundberg on bass, and Robb Stupka on drums. With tracks like "Goodbye Misery" and "Walk Your Walk," Coleman displays her guitar chops. Also included is "Hain't It Funny," written by Canadian Jane Siberry.
Coleman is a legitimate talent, seeking to make her way in a male-dominated field. Give Where Blue Begins a listen.
Chuck Brodsky, Radio (Red House Records 1998) - Chuck Brodsky works in the classic folksinger vein. What sets Brodsky aside is his wit and barbed sense of humor - when Brodsky sharpens his elbows, no one's safe, as exemplified by his classic "Blow 'Em Away" (a light-hearted song about an angry motorist with a pistol and an attitude).
Now age 39, Brodsky was raised in Philadelphia, where he developed a passion for hockey and baseball. Brodksy's love of baseball is reflected in "Moe Berg: The Song," a tale about the former Dodgers catcher who also worked as a pre-World War II spy for the U.S.
Brodsky moved to California, and lived in the Bay Area for many years. (In fact, he wrote "Blow 'Em Away" while stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge in a company van.) Brodsky now lives in the quiet environs of Ashville, North Carolina, and recorded Radio at Nickel & Dime Studios in Decatur, Georgia.
Backed by a full band, Brodsky displays his wit on such tracks as the "Hockey Fight Song," and "On Christmas I Got Nothing," as well as his signature, "Blow 'Em Away." Yet Brodsky is not all fun and games - many songs are more somber, such as "Our Gods" and "Creepsville."
Notwithstanding the downcast moments, Brodsky has stellar songwriting skills. Fans of folk and intelligent songwriting will enjoy Radio.
Shawn Mullins, Soul's Core (Columbia 1998) - Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Shawn Mullins delivers his major label debut in Soul's Core. With its folk rock influences, and hit single ("Lullaby"), Mullins shows that hard work pays off.
And Mullins has worked hard at his craft, with six independent releases to his name, and hundreds of gigs across the county. Mullins says he gets much of his inspiration on the road: "I can take my own stuff and put it into these characters and hide behind them a little bit. It's cheap therapy," Shawn confesses.
Shawn was signed to Columbia Records based on the radial success of "Lullaby," with its images of Hollywood heartbreak and redemption. Shawn also delivers a fine six-minute cover of Johnny Cash's "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," a classic song about drug and alcohol excess.
For an acoustic songwriter with a future, try Soul's Core.
Possum Dixon, New Sheets (Interscope 1998) - Back with the third CD is Possum Dixon, an L.A.-based rock band. With production work by Ric Ocasek (formerly of the Cars), the new album bears more of a pop sheen.
Possum Dixon consists of Rob Zabrecky on bass and vocals, Celso Chavez on guitars, and Bryon Reynolds on drums. Formed in 1989, the band's self-title debut was a pleasant surprise.
For New Sheets, Possum Dixon recruited assistance from such noted musicians as Jane Weidlin (ex-Go-Go's), Fred Schnieder (ex-B52s), and David A. Stewart (ex-Eurythmics). With songs like "Heavenly" and "Firecracker," the threesome hopes to crack the radio airwaves.
For a slice of L.A.-based pop/rock (an increasingly rare commodity), try New Sheets.
- Randy Krbechek © 1998
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