This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 7/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Best known for his marvelous baseball-related songs, another
of Chuck Brodsky's talents is as a chronicler of America, present and
past, telling both big and small tales. In this release, he gives
new life to a couple of obscure regional historical figures as well as providing
biting commentary on the state of our country today. Plus, he rewards
listeners with a few offerings borne of his chosen profession.
The most compelling cut is "Dangerous Times," about a number of
pre-and-post 9/11 peculiarities of American political life that never get
fully addressed in any prominent or readily accessible media. Brodsky
"...Some dictators are bad
Some dictators are good
That's a hard one to explain
But I wish somebody would...
...The twisting of the facts
The stretching of the truth
The terrorists among us
They manipulate the news...
...There isn't time to read
The contents of the bills
That Congress votes for anyway
Up there on The Hill..."
"Claire & Johnny" is a unflinchingly sober selection
about the full destructive force of Alzheimer's on an elderly couple.
Life near a company town is the predicament presented in "Seven
Miles Upwind," a re-visiting of the employment versus quality of life
conundrum. In the same vein, "Trees Falling" is a
progress-is-inevitable and he-who-has-the-gold-makes-the-rules tale.
"Miracle In The Hills" presents the extraordinary real-life
deeds of Dr. Mary Martin Sloop and her husband in bringing health care,
schooling and electricity to a neglected rural part of North Carolina.
The life of Ches McCartney is put to music in "The Goat Man." It's an
inspiring and humorous tale about a man, after losing an arm in an
accident, taking to the road with a goat-pulled wagon and
traveling for 30 years throughout the South.
The sly and clever "Forest Hills Sub" heaps scorn upon the
banality of and single-mindedness emanating from the members of a housing
subdivision where diversity isn't appreciated, let alone cherished.
Two of the offerings related to Brodsky's field of employment are "G-ddamned Blessed Road" and "Al's Ashes and Me."
The philosophical and ambivalently-titled "G-ddamned Blessed
Road" has some similarities to a previous well-regarded Brodsky road
song, "We Are Each Other's Angels." This one continues the journey of
life theme and is applicable to musicians and non-musicians alike.
"Al's Ashes & Me" is the equivalent of Michael
Paterniti's book "Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America With
Einstein's Brain." In the song, Brodsky meanders about nationally and
even internationally with the remnants of the late
poet/philosopher/curmudgeon/musician Al Grierson. Upon entering the
grounds of the Kerrville Folk Festival, Brodsky opens the song with:
"Welcome Home Al, said the sign at the gate
I got there early, Al got there late
Together we entered and greeted our mates
Al - he was back in Texas..."
The other woe-unto-the-musician tune is "The Room Over The
Bar." Guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of any listener, it is
the flip side to those jawdropping tales about the contract guarantees
for rock music figures while on tour--limousines, the best champagne, a
top floor suite, a bevy of masseuses and so on. Here's what most
folkies encounter to ease the strain of the road:
"...The room over the bar has a funny kind of smell
Your feet stick to the carpet, what it is you cannot tell...
...The room over the bar - number 213
Not particularly large, not particularly clean..."
This release encompasses a very worthwhile sixty-three minutes,
focusing on both the light and dark in America, as well as providing
some humor along the way.
Brodsky, on vocals and guitar, is backed by JP Cormier on
acoustic guitar, acoustic and electric bass, fiddle, mandolin, banjo,
percussion, keyboards and harmony vocals.
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