Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Turn Up That Noise!

By Stephen Grimstead

MAY 11, 1998:  History continues to prove that the majority of popular-music listeners prefer their tunes without any heavy philosophical or political message attached. A few notable exceptions come to mind (Marvin Gaye’s stunning concept album, What’s Going On, Neil Young’s blistering “Ohio”), while others have been stripped of their initial power through being used as advertising tools (will the Beatles’ “Revolution” ever ring true again with a Nike swoosh stamped on it?).

So, following in the footsteps of Pete Townshend (who celebrated personal guru Meher Baba) and Chick Corea (who is a member of the Church of Scientology, but supposedly doesn’t let his beliefs interfere with his music), guitar slinger and honest fellow Francis Dunnery throws caution to the wind and delivers his manifesto of “positive realism” with his newest record, Let’s Go Do What Happens. The average listener may or may not embrace the philosophy expressed within Dunnery’s music, but can certainly enjoy the wild ride that goes along with it.

For those unfamiliar with Dunnery, he first came to public attention as a guitarist and songwriter for the British band It Bites, and most notably in the U.S.A. as hired gun on Robert Plant’s Fate Of Nations world tour. His last release, Tall Blonde Helicopter, was one of the finest records of 1995, but Atlantic Records probably gave away more copies than they sold.

Industry misfit Francis Dunnery happens to mix music and message.
Now signed to Razor & Tie Records (a wonderful reissue label which is also a home for the new music of other industry misfits like Graham Parker), Dunnery has the potential to reach a greater audience than ever – through Razor & Tie’s distribution deal with BMG, and his continually evolving musical maturity as evidenced in Let’s Go Do What Happens. (Not-so-subtle note to Razor & Tie Head Honchos: Is anyone ever going to release Francis’ two “unknown” records in the States – Welcome To The Wild Country [first solo album, released in Japan only] and One Night In Sauchiehall Street [live LP, released in the UK only]?)

Dunnery sets out to tear off the top of the listener’s head from the very first cut, “My Own Reality.” The dozen songs on Let’s Go Do What Happens run the gamut from smooth (“Perfect Shape”) and smoking (“Crazy Is A Pitstop”) to jumpin’ and jazzy (“Riding On The Back” and “Crazy Little Heart Of Mine”), with no room for filler or mediocrity. Other stellar moments include “Jonah,” “Whoever Brought Me Here,” “Revolution” (with the telling opening lines, “How can I sing like an angry man/When I’m not particularly angry anymore”), and the uplifting finale, “Give Up Your Day Job.”

Rest assured that Dunnery has done it again with Let’s Go Do What Happens – by delivering another solid record where the message never gets in the way of the music. History be damned – highly recommended for the enlightened and the great unwashed as well. – David D. Duncan

Eskimo, Some Prefer Cake (Original Motion Picture Score) (Vaccination)

Here’s a novel idea: a sound-track that gets released prior to the film it supports. Director Heidi Arnesen’s independent movie, Some Prefer Cake, was actually screened last summer in San Francisco, but has yet to find a distributor. Which is puzzling, since it features two sure-fire ingredients for modern-day entertainment – lesbians and stalkers. If Eskimo’s “original motion picture score” is any indication of the movie that matches it, Some Prefer Cake (the film) is bound to be a wild ride indeed.

Imagine the bastard musical child of Frank Zappa and the Residents, and then picture this upstart spending entirely too much time as a precocious punk watching film noir and detective dramas. The result would probably sound just like Eskimo on this particular outing. Although the recording is described in a press release as “scraping together pieces of [Ennio] Morricone, [John] Lurie, [Duke] Ellington, spy themes, and horror films,” Eskimo claim this turf as their own, with particular emphasis on Tom Yoder’s trombone and guest star Gino Robair’s theremin stylings.

The song titles give more than a clue to the matching action in the film (“Steamy View,” “Cafe Swank,” “The Stalker Lurks”), but this is one trip worth taking without the benefit of the accompanying images. As far from cold as one can get, Eskimo’s sounds for Some Prefer Cake are a tasty treat for the discriminating palate – one that can accommodate both raw fish and something sticky and sweet. Be sure to hang around for the lengthy “bonus track,” which runs the gamut from seasick to treacly to points unknown. – D.D.D.

Proverbial best guesses place this disk on store shelves within the next few weeks.

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