Monday, August 4, 2014

Adam Rich. Streetlight Smile.

Adam Rich.  Streetlight Smile.
Love Muffin Records, 2014.  Adam Rich:

Adam Rich has been immersed in the Cleveland music scene for some time, having kicked around in several bands including Oliver Buck & the New Madrids, the Flavor, and even his own, The Adam Rich Band.  Love Muffin is his very own record label, and that qualifies him as both an entrepreneurial and musical spirit in the region, or as he might say, “a freaking awesome sexy ball of love.”  We’ll just take his word for it and move on to his latest release.

For this album Rich has assembled a collection of original tunes recorded from between 2011-2014, as well as a remarkable group of assisting musicians including six vocalists.  Rich doesn’t sing himself here, so he remains the Mystery Man, mostly on guitar, expressing his inner Joe Satriani.  The songs themselves are an eclectic mix of strong rockers, instrumentals, and tunes featuring some humorous or topically local lyrics in the manner of Alex Bevan.  He opens with a quirky instrumental (to be honest, many of the songs are quirky) that begins with a simple melody, blossoming into a really nice rocking tune about halfway through.  The title track is one of his best tunes, with great hooks, impressive vocals from Jerry Principe, and a sweet guitar solo at the break.  The lyrics refer to many local bands, ranging from Carlos Jones to the Jack Fords--very Cleveland.  I’ve listened to this at least ten times, and never get tired of it.  “Labor Day” has a more laid-back, 70s feel to it, with some funny/sad lyrics about being alone.  “Wait till Next Year” is a sports anthem that nobody will ever play in the stadiums (but could get some time in the bars), since the lyrics are about the misfortunes of local teams.  “Government Bailout” is Rich’s punk/political song, now a bit outdated (but only a little), concerning the recession, and features another fine guitar solo.  

Things get weird towards the end of the album.  “Diet Nipples” is a fusion/acid-jazz experiment, with added sax and some curious effects.  It works nicely.  The last track, “Adam’s Head,” is simply bizarre.  Also leaning in a jazz direction, the lyrics, sung or spoken by Oliver Buck, are literally about Mr. Rich’s head, a series of put-downs that could have come from a Zappa album if they weren’t so personal.  It’s funny, but in a very strange way.  I neglected to mention the best instrumental here, “Muffin Shuffle,” a great guitar blowout that could have gone on for ten minutes, but runs only 3:27.  More of this, please, Adam.

In all, this is a fine album with a bunch of good tunes with a curious mix of humor and high octane.  By far my favorites are the title track and “Muffin Shuffle,” which ought to get considerable airplay if there’s any justice.   You can get the music through the Love Muffin Records website or CDBaby.

Personnel:  Adam Rich (guitars, bass, drums on “Diet Nipples”), Ernie Richmann (drums), Frank Ian (vocals on “Labor Day”), Dave Mann Wolf (backing vocals on “Labor Day”), Jerry Principe (vocals on “Streetlight Smile”), Drew Clair (vocals on “Wait till Next Year”), Mike Taff (vocals and guitar solo on “Government Bailout”), Smitty (drums on “Government Bailout”), Norm Tischler (sax on “Diet Nipples”), Oliver Buck (vocals on “Adam’s Head”), Joe Landes (guitar on “Adam’s Head”).
Tracks:  Magical Feet Pear Groove, Streetlight Smile, Labor Day, Muffin Shuffle, Wait till Next Year, Government Bailout, Diet Nipples, Adam’s Head.

The Grand Wazoo

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