Music Guru Greg Hunsaker reviews "Revolution Rhapsody
Posted by Trudi Brown on April 17, 2012. 0 Comments
Thanks to one of my musical gurus and all around cool-groovy guy, Greg Hunsaker for his insightful, thought provoking, lyrical review of my newest CD "Revolution Rhapsody aka: Uprising Music" - I love the way he sees music - thanks Greg :-)
Gary Brown, on his latest Bushmaster release, Revolution Rhapsody (Uprising Music) firmly puts his fingerprint on the template of poignant blues today. Expressing, through raw emotion, the desperation of the many in an ever-eroding political world, he does it without losing his focus on the music for the sake of music. His guitar work is fresh, strong, and brilliant. His mastery of rhythm, through the medium of the blues, evokes both the classical slave song-derived earliest of the blue artists, yet his more modern work embraces technology with the supplest of chordal voicings.
Keep On Pickin' Gary!
The play by play is as follows:
Track one: Cumberland Blues,
Great solid heavy rhythm, classic Hendrix delta sound. Also an expression of oppression, with the highly ballsy seeming of a recording of a threatening call from an impressario. Not a recipe for a place to play, but seeming a satisfying thing to do, resulting in a solid piece of work. I really like the bridge that ends at 3:49, a spacy-flangy Robin Troweresque interlude. But that's really amateurish reviewing.
Also I realize my amateurishness in being a constructive critic will probably manifest in a bunch of questions, from tracks two and three, specifically.
A lousy critic will criticize the space between the music. Discussing intentions is quite apart from discussing the music itself, and I'll try to focus on the latter. Also, "I really like," doesn't really address anything.
Track two: I Will Shine
Right off the bat, an excellent positive response to track one.
Your use of the languid application of major chords, the laid-back rhythm, a simple sort of porch reflection, just brings a flood of positive feelings. I could compare it to a number of DCG tunes, but the application of the power chords, in the chorus, formulaically, is Feel Like Making Love. Fortunately, musically it's not, it's an original statement, well-fortified by the use of the backwards-sounding leads.
Too sophisticated for my volume knob swells. Did you use a Pro Tools effect for that?
I could also make another ethnomusicalogical/psychological comparison in saying it gave me the laid back feeling of a country store, where the Ballad of Curtis Loew might play.
Meanwhile...track three is calling me....
This one, Victim of Nostalgia, is the one I accused you of attaining a RHCP sound on, but that's the funk groove at the end with the coy female vocal, and I get ahead of myself.
A segue, to say that you'd never guess this change would occur at the onset, or until the 3-minute mark. It's a strong, solid opening riff, the vocals powerful, I'd say beefed up with a clone/double effect. Or is it a backing vocal in unison? It's effective also, where you don't use it, a dynamic shift.
The guitar tone makes me drool for your bassman, yet despite its low-end depth, it's treble-rich. I think the strong top-end on the tone makes it complete, but we guitar players sometimes scoop the mids. Was your other amp a fender reverb? Or are these direct-input modeled sounds? It's the cleanness that is it's appeal for me, and the sparkle.
I didn't give you enough credit for burning, when I complimented your restraint. Here you whale with the gnat notes in sparse little barrages, generally creating melodic, listenable foot-tappin' music.
Compliments on the intro hook. Start back in from the five, full of funk and vigor. The non-1/4/5 turnaround gets you into the pantheon of New Blues, something many consider a misnomer.
From the 3 mark, the emerging funk groove excellently descends out of the solid space blues. I guess the RHCP comment was generally applying to an arrangement of Rap over Funk. The arrangement could also describe a carnival barker unveiling a stripping hottie. I suspect, if the tune were introduced to the Red Light District of Amsterdam, it would go viral.
Nice work dude. Almost failed to mention the vocal pitch descent at 0:50 gave me a Zappa Twitch. I played it for a Zappa expert, who probably said he'd stick with Frank, but I think it's a pretty cool twist. Also, there might be a gig there, at the Smokehouse, In West Rappahannock County, 20 minutes further than the Griftin' Tavern.
Off to the Migros,
Track 4: Arizona Shame on You
Brilliant idea to articulate it with a vocal in spanish, authentic even.
"Desert brown, sky of blue." There is a whole school of how to start a novel, and this is an excellent intro. Remind me to talk at you about outros. The low, laid back vocal is very effective and appealing. One consistent quality through the starting several songs of the release is the capacity to draw a listener in. It's not the outro of this tune, but the segue into the opening notes of the next tune that really pull this off. I'm also struggling to not review track 4 while listening to track 6, but it affirms my suspicion that The Whole Novel starts off strong and seems to just get better with each new tune.
"Arizona" makes valid strikes towards appalling emerging police-state policies. You get a gold star for ringing the bell of that particular topic, and better yet for mentioning the Reverend Doctor to put it into context.
The mix, typical so far, is clear, the harmonica in complimentary counterpoint with the guitar.
A professional recording, and I detect hawaiian slack-key playing in the guitar, despite a 1/4/5 simple backbone. Ry Cooder would make a mix like this.
Track 5: Phony People
Enter A Space Odyssey, Right into double-hammering hard-rock. Transcending into a a poignant social critique vis-a-vis the Beatles reference in the chorus, delightfully long in getting there. Then the ultimate sort of Ten Years After Satisfaction.
Again, I didn't give you enough credit when I said I wanted to hear you go Alvin Lee nuts. You do a masterful job on the wah-wah, and ultimately create a solid flurry of a climax at the end.
But what the fuck? You censor yourself it 1:10? Save that for the airplay people. You're too direct, and too mainstream-perspective extreme in the overall statement of the release to suffer self-censorship, or any other censorship that someone might convince you to cow to. Don't mean to go off...but we expect the art to come from the artists.
Allinall, an excellent listen. I'd say I could listen to it 90 times, if I hadn't already done that.
Likin' the key changes on track 6, as the beer grows warm, the fish starts to stink, I grow long in the tooth, the dog still in the car....
To Be Continued.
A preview from the next segment of the Blues Telegraph (the dog came in):
The funky intro on track 7, with the sophisticated light-touch changes, into the key change/city-slicker licks, causes me audio images of Coco Montoya on a hot day with John Mayall, or Robben ford, jamming with Larry Carlton.
Track 7: Sidewalk Strut
Rockin' piece, revealing, as I resume the exercise, that there's little to crit in your work. Ethnomusicalogical link to Shaky Ground in the intro, effectively draws the listener yet further in.
As I make the occasional reference to background, or transverse connections to other pieces, I mean no discredit to your songwriting talent, something I have failed to identify, as somewhat removed from a consideration of performance telegraphed through a recording.
Citing Feels Like Making Love, for instance, could be easily interpreted as an artistic slight, but it is also an observation of a formula that has kept the players excessively rich ever since. A formula for artistic success, on a scale of commercial viability, a major dichotomy. I sense you have mortgaged your soul to make this recording, figuratively of course, and per the Robert Johnson model. I feel compelled to admit there are times when I am ready to lose my virtue and make some money.
Which engages another polemical digression: Bill Wax told me, paraphrasing here, that if I wanted to name my band (Fauxanglais) and defy classification with my music, that I would have no shelf at the record store. This was one of the kinder, and more poignant thoughts he expressed, (Get a voice, get a recordist, it's not blues, and you're not going to hear it on my show.") I still think it was the last time I got violent with inanimate objects.
However, there is a song at stake here...the initial turnarounds (inversion sounds like a d figure with the b below) take it into a captivating original. The key change at 0:35 and subsequent shift to minor playing is a great mood bender. Lest we forget the purpose of the blues. The lead that starts around 1:20 reminds me of seeing a weird dude playing open tuned-major scale pull-off guitar lead at One Step Down in the 70s. I love the effect, and it doesn't stretch it to take another round...though in hindsight, you wind up playing in a minor scale, a good trick.
Those were the days of a lot of sped-up players. I recall opening for Tex Rubinowitz, and seeing him draining black beauties down his raw throat. The guy I saw was texas-dressed. maybe with a Mississippi String Tie. Little dude.
Back to the major/minor mood swingy stuff: I like the way Little Jimmie King does it on Upside Down And Backwards. In jazz, it's known as the "pickardy third" or some such esoteric dogerrel.
Back to that lead at 0:35: it also stretches the imagination, with the overbends. Not going to call anything a step and a half, or two, but focus on the spaces between the accepted scale notes, or the microtones. This is where Stevie Ray learned to tear your heart to shreds (an unavoidable, unfortunate metaphor today) with a slow bend. Here, many of the greats have bent time. I try to think of examples, and again think of Coco Montoya's solos on John Mayall's Congo Square, which reflect the original, not unlike Hendrix's riffs on Come On, which, of course, telegraph directly into Stevie Ray's scuttlebuttin' and Come On (Let the Good Times Roll.)
The later lead gets slick and city. You leaned some of your playing on the street.
Track 8 seems like filler material, though it is well crafted, particularly the key changes. I'm going to glance off desultorily to track 9: River flow- Splash
Space intro rocks right into heavy blues. Vocal starts strong, reflective, positive message. A lot of strong synchopation in the instrumentation, emphatic backbeat. Lyrics and their presentation strike my Zappa nerve at 1:24, maybe Zombie Woof. The creeping pitch in the vocals presages the change to a meditative transition, then at 3:18, Bridge of Sighs. If we're talking about the talent of a minstrel to manipulate the emotions of his audience, it's extremely well done. At any other level, as a further consideration.
As the lyrics descend into negative reality, there is a foreshadowing of changes to come.
I realize the closing, with the words becoming less effected was important to convey your message, but I think the mood is slightly buzz-killed.
Finally, something critical.
Gonna quit while I'm still a head.