Search - Hamell on Trial :: Big As Life

Big As Life
Hamell on Trial
Big As Life
Genres: Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

One-man-band Ed Hamell not only commands attention, he absolutely demands it. If you're talking during one of his shows, expect to hear about it. Immediately. If you're listening to Big As Life, don't expect to use the alb...  more »


CD Details

All Artists: Hamell on Trial
Title: Big As Life
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Mercury/Polygram Records
Release Date: 3/12/1996
Genres: Pop, Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Other Editions: Big as life
UPCs: 731452882929, 731452882943

One-man-band Ed Hamell not only commands attention, he absolutely demands it. If you're talking during one of his shows, expect to hear about it. Immediately. If you're listening to Big As Life, don't expect to use the album as background music. Hamell's likely to jump right out of your stereo and remind you of why you put the album on in the first place. Like a male Ani DiFranco, Hamell shows up with an acoustic guitar and an attitude, and he treats his guitar the same way DiFranco does: he strums it hard and fast, making for a kind of thrash-folk setting. But Hamell's a bit older, he's done a lot more living, and his position gives him a real sense of perspective on a variety of "big" issues. The subjects range from race relations (the title track, in which Hamell realizes why "Count Basie, he don't wanna talk to me/Miles Davis never rang my phone off the hook and I'm not anticipating any calls from Spike Lee" ), to drugs and human nature (the haunting spoken word "Piccolo Joe"), and really crappy bands ("Z-Roxx"). Hamell gets right to the heart of the matter and delivers what might as well be the last word on the subject. Yet it's the lovingly crafted goodbye to his deceased mother "Open Up the Gates" that is the most moving song on the album. Hamell's voice reflects his gruff attitude, so when he finally turns tender, it's all the more affecting. His demeanor comes through even here, with a threat to St. Peter ("Heaven hath seen no fury/like a son that's scorned/Be forewarned"), lest the saint not treat Mrs. Hamell properly. --Randy Silver

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CD Reviews

"Thrash folk" done by the master
Jay DeKing | Tallahassee, FL United States | 01/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first heard of Hamell on Trial, aka Ed Hamell, in an interview he did on NPR when this album was released. I knew that it would be replayed later that week, so I had a tape ready. For six years, that was the only recording I had of "Big As Life" and "Blood of the Wolf." Once I finally started looking for the CD, it was already out of print. The company that owns the rights took it off the market.At last I found it here on, but only as a used CD. Don't get me wrong - it was a good quality used disk, like new in fact, and I got it quickly. But a classic (yes, classic!) album like this should be available to the world in the kind of quantities that a recording company can provide.Ed Hamell's newsletter says that he is still trying to regain the rights to this album. Let's hope that he does. Hamell plays his acoustic guitar the way James Hetfield of Metallica plays his electric. He describes his style as "thrash folk," and that's a good description of the music; fast, heavy style on an acoustic guitar, but with socially relevant lyrics."Big As Life," the title track, deals with racial prejudices and drug addiction. This song speaks to me personally because I've lived the life of addiction, been through rehab, and the majority of the heroin, crack and cocaine addicts I have known were white, middle- and even upper-class, but that's not how crack is portrayed in the media."Open Up The Gates," on the other hand, is a slow, touching eulogy for a mother, addressed to St. Peter, with recommendations on her character and warnings to treat her properly.Hamell on Trial's albums tend to have "Explicit Lyrics" warnings on them, but that's only because life has explicit lyrics. He doesn't use them casually. My advice is, don't be too concerned about the warnings. Buy his music. Listen. If you don't, you'll miss something important."
Real alternative music
Jay DeKing | 10/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The late Bill Hicks was a fan of Ed's, so enough said. A great debut, and the man is a must-see in concert for his intensity and stream-of-consciousness banter with the crowd and the venue itself. His songs stick with you long after the cd or amplifier is off."
Irreverent, but all too real
Jay DeKing | 03/31/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"sugar free, brother franklin and blood of the wolf ("he held up a kentucky fried chicken with a fork, a f***ing fork!) and other tracks make this one a necessity.a high-energy one man tirade."