Skeletons in the jukebox
“Skeletons” provides a forum for local musicians, artists, record-store owners, etc., to erase cool points by expressing their unseemly affection for an unhip album from their past.
Tom Jones — Help Yourself, by Kim Clark of WNCW
“It was early 1969, and protest songs and ‘heavy’ message music were all the rage. I kept an eager ear on my transistor radio and bought my share of ‘hip’ records that year, mostly singles. But I plunked down several weeks’ allowance for a decidedly unhip long-player — Tom Jones’ Help Yourself.
“I could, and still can, sing along with every tune on the record. And that dreamy photo of hunky Tom on the LP jacket didn’t hurt, either.
“‘Help Yourself’ struck a nice balance between Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll and adult pop. In addition to the infectious title track, there were some lushly produced ballads, a full-on Latin romp with blaring horns, and a song called ‘The Bed’ that made me blush for about 20 years. And front-and-center through the whole affair was, of course, Tom Jones’ powerful voice.”
Porcelynn, The Fine China: Two Stars
• Genre(s): Grunge revival
• You’ll like it if: You still wear mourning flannel to protest the Singles soundtrack being overlooked as rock’s greatest album.
• Defining song: “Control Freak” — shows shades of their own sound, independent of other influences.
The most pleasurable thing about local band Porcelynn is the early-’90s wistfulness their sound evokes, recalling the days when the Seattle invasion swept the country like an angst-laden locust swarm. With obvious nods to the Smashing Pumpkins, and a hearty serving of Mudhoney on the side, Porcelynn seems intent on building their music from recycled parts. Unfortunately, their album, The Fine China, would have come up short even in that era, which doesn’t bode well for present times. The lyrics lack any mystery, and even their full-strength instrumentals try too hard to get in your face.
Dave Desmelik and the Hillbilly Cadavers at Westville Pub; Thursday, July 21: Three Stars
• Genre(s): Americana
• Be glad you stayed home if: You need a big rowdy band to cover up the bar clamor.
• Defining moment: When Jupiter Coyote’s fiddle player, Steve Trismen, joined Desmelik on stage for the original “I Told Myself.” Desmelik blossomed with the addition, lending credence to an already tremendous tune.
The marquee read “Dave Desmelik and the Hillbilly Cadavers.” However, only one Cadaver, drummer Richard Foulk (of Sons of Ralph), sat in the whole evening. With bassist Gary Wiley sidelined due to a bad back, Desmelik artfully caulked the missing groove. Sounding like a young Jay Farrar, Dave filled the room with flourishes of harmonica, warm vocals and sharp lyrics that corralled attention away from the cold pints. The minimalism began to fizzle toward the end, but was resuscitated by the addition of fiddle player Steve Trismen, the 1992 Telluride Bluegrass Festival champion on that instrument.
For now, Desmelik has trouble holding attention for three hours-plus. But he handled the loss of Wiley well — which should give him more confidence when embarking on lone performances.
[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]