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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - Reverend Glasseye

eclectic reviews and opinions

Reverend Glasseye and his Wooden Legs

Black River Falls

(CooCoo Bird Records, 2001)

Reverend Glasseye and his Wooden Legs' Black River Falls is a nice example of a book's cover clearly indicating its contents. The jacket illo reproduces a daguerrotype of a pair of spooky little white-dressed, candle-bearing girls; song titles include "Midnight Caberet," "50% Murder," and "Carnival of Pills." The credits -- labelled "dramatis personae" -- are really long, with most folks playing at least four things, and include djembe, musical saw, flugel horn, and toy piano along with more standard instruments.

Given all this, it surely won't surprise anyone that "Rev. Ignatious Glasseye" has a throaty baritone, like Nick Cave trying to swallow Tom Wait's tongue, and that those are also two of the first names that the "Southern Gothic" lyrics bring to mind; along with maybe some of the earlier Pogues records. The music, logically enough, wanders between folk, deceptively spry two-stepping country beats and demented jug-band blues with circusy touches; you might not guess the vaguely flamenco flourishes that adorn "Seven Little Girls," but the ghostly female duet on "3 Ton Chain" and the overdriven, buzzy vocals of "Paddywagon Turban" are strictly de rigeur.

I often find strongly theme- or genre-typed records problematic, and this is no exception: should I rate it according to how good a record it is in the take-it-into-your-heart-and-love-it-forever sense, or according to how well it checks off the little boxes it sets out for itself to check? I don't want to slight the considerable talent of the musicians involved, and they might be fun to see live, but it feels like the songs are serving the schtick here, rather than the other way around.

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