A Review of the CD
"Early Jerling"
by Michael Jerling

"Early Jerling"
by Michael Jerling

Copyright 1998
Waterbug Records
P.O. Box 6605
Evanston, IL 60204
ph: (800)-466-0234

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
send me an email message

Showcasing his musical prodigiousness in acoustic and electric folk, rhythm and blues, and rock, Jerling presents songs previously released from 1977 to 1986, save for two compositions, in his first offering from Waterbug Records.

"Long Black Wall," often noted as his signature piece, goes straight to the heart and is the most moving cut here. Traversing from a Green Beret-proffered high school slide show on Communists, to the 1968 Democratic national convention in Chicago, to college and draft numbers, veterans returning from Vietnam, and finally the raising and dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., Jerling evocatively offers his take on this thirty years of history. Steering away from mordancy, he employs a nuanced sublety that pulls the listener in to the story. Part of the song goes:

David Maswick on the synthesizer during the "long black wall..." portion of the song adds to its heartfelt touch.

The electric guitar and drum employment on the not-so-humorous "Stupid" give it a rock-like, seemingly Springsteenish sound. Jerling sings:

Continuing on, he adds:

This is a diatribe, leaving the listener chuckling but wondering who is this about? There's nothing in the liner notes to provide a clue.

"Kitchen Two-Step" is a fond remembrance of a young teenager enduring the trials and tribulations of learning how to slow dance "with your Mama and Sis," just prior to a prom or high school dance. Early on, Jerling sings:

Jerling's last verse closes with:

Peter Ostroushko's mandolin work is a great addition on this cut.

The relationship and life choices of cousins Jimmy Swaggert and Jerry Lee Lewis get the full treatment in the swinging rhythm and blues number "Jimmy and Jerry Lee":

Jerling ends the tune with:

Tony Markellis' acoustic bass work here effortlessly moves along the song.

"Riverboat Rag" is a take on Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as grownups. Peter Ostroushko on mandolin and fiddle, and Bill Taylor on acoustic bass again do good work here as this slow-tempo piece bumps up to a Dixieland jazz-style when the chorus is played.

Jerling's baritone voice is strong and versatile, and his guitar playing excellent. This release is a good exposure to his earlier vinyl recordings. He music isn't generally the kind that stops you in your tracks but he paints effective portraits and his portfolio meanders across a varied musical landscape.

Track List:

All songs written by Michael Jerling.

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