P.O. Box 6605
Evanston, IL 60204
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:
"...The man on TV said ten years had gone
Today a monument was raised
And when they spoke each name
one at a time
The roll of dead took four whole days
Long black wall
And nothing is the same..."
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:
Turn the other cheek
He'd have to
Run into the desert
Stay drunk for a week
If he ever met you..."
Continuing on, he adds:
"...Mae West said
Come up and see me sometime
But I think she'd have
To get a brand new line
If she ever me you..."
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:
"...You can fake it on the fast ones
Hide out in the hall
But if you want to hold her close
And you don't know how to waltz
You learn the one-two, one-two
Jerling's last verse closes with:
"...Kids are so sophisticated
Today that's what I hear
But you watch while they're dancing
And one thing becomes quite clear
Through the cool hard looks I detect
A little one-two, one-two
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":
"...They took the road to riches
Both had something to sell
Tent revival heaven
Seedy roadhouse hell..."
Jerling ends the tune with:
"...When you grow up in the delta
And it's all you've ever seen
There's a left-hand road
There's a right-hand road
But there's no road in between..."
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.
All songs written by Michael Jerling.
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
Ownership, copyright and title of this folk music CD review belongs to me, Kevin McCarthy. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.
Send inquiries to: send me an email message.
Return to Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews home page.
To return to the last web page you visited, click the "Back" button that appears immediately below: