A daring change of direction
Raymond Ullmer | Mahwah, NJ, USA | 06/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I guess when you're about to listen to a new release by a favorite artist, you can't help building expectations that THIS CD will be something like your favorite CD from that artist. In my case, the Jack Logan CD I keep coming back to is "Mood Elevator" - a supreme blend of bursting rock and roll mixed with truly touching ballads. Just great.So, as I press "Play", I'm bracing for "Neon Tombstone". What came out was something very different.A tip off of something new was the liner notes. Kelly Keneipp, and the rest of the Liquor Cabinet crew were missing. Uh oh. Instead, there are "The Possibilities", playing instruments like "banjo", "mandolin", and "steel guitar". What's going on here? I don't remember Joe Strummer ever playing the banjo...So, yeah, I got thrown for a loop. I started bailing, skipping forward looking for the songs I was ready for, but not finding any. A bad day at work, and I come home to this? Life seemed so unfair.I was, however, back the next day. This sucker started growing on me, and fast. To use comparison as a tool, this is no "Mood Elevator" or "Tinker", but rather harkens back to "Bulk", with all its eccentric wanderings.The songs tend towards grooves, and acoustic as they may be, there is a very real hip-hop element going on. The band sets the mood, sets the riff, and Logan rides on top with that smooth baritone and wonderful lyrics."Dont seed the clouds and rain me out", he pleads. Later, in "New Slot Machines", which deals with the modern reality of Indian Reservations as casino villages, we hear the tribesman as card dealer, "Used to feel bad about my new occupation / The Chief has a new truck to drive / Now he don't want to leave the reservation". Its something Johnny Cash might have said.Then there's the music - it's describing a place. A room, the furniture, the paintings on the wall. The walk-down-the-street shuffle of "Restless Dreaming". And "Rain me out"; I'm half expecting Paul Westerberg to break in at any moment. The sadness of "Real Time Machine", where the string plucks are like little raindrops on the window sill. The dreamy "Aint it a shame about this world", the lyric for which hits a little too close to home...And, my obsessive favorite, the weird "Glass Eye Blues", a tune in the same vein as "Unscathed" from Mood Elevator - a song about surviving a car wreck. Unlike the former, where the driver walks away, well, unscathed, he wasn't so lucky this time: "Lost my eyeball / So they made me this glass eye / Fits in the socket / Looks just like my other eye"....So if you got here because you're looking for indie jems, this is the place. Jack Logan doesn't (yet) generate a lot of press, and that's a real shame, because he is creating a very special catalog of music. One that was just greatly enhanced by the inclusion of "Monkey Paw".So much for first impressions."
Jack Doing It On his Own, Again
T. OConnor | St. Paul, MN USA | 06/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Monkey-Paw", much like "Bulk" or "Tinker" is an album that's really about Jack Logan and his friends.However, the friends are different this time around. There is no Liquor Cabinet, or Kelly Kneipp. His backing band is a Backburner (Jack's label) band called "The Possibilities". And while Jack has gone for a definite low-fi sound, the difference between "The Possibilities" and "the Liquor Cabinet" are fairly obvious. Jack doesn't "rock out" on this album all that much, but he does engage his more sonically open-minded side. There are sound effects aplenty, which is something you never heard on a Jack Logan album before. But what has always made a Jack Logan album special is still in evidence here--a gleeful mish-mash of styles, be it country, blues, or rock; well-written, Springsteen-after-a-few-beers lyrics, and a belief that surprising one's audience is the start of entertaining it. For example, how many times have you walked by a cop car, and gotten a little chill? Logan knows that odd fear, and quite simply wrote a song called "Scared of the Police". But, with the aforementioned "Scared", "Born at Altamont", and "Ain't It a Shame About This World" we are also seeing the potential growth of Logan as a political lyric writer as well, something he has always stayed away from. I for one welcome it, as I welcome Logan's take on just about everything--be it relationships, race cars, or riots. He's been a voice that has been ignored by far too many folks for far too long. I don't think "Monkey Paw" is the ideal first Jack Logan album, that title has belonged, and will belong to, "Bulk". But "Monkey Paw" is a fine album. Logan's albums remind me of the Simpsons--even the bad ones are better than 95% of the stuff out there. And this album is quite good, even by Logan's rather exacting standards."