Danny James Etc./ Pear (Burger Records, 2015)
This album was originally released on cassette in 2013 and was available as a download for a while there. Square that I am I was unaware of this album until someone posted a Youtube clip on Facebook last month. The LP and CD did not see a release until this week, so it's kinda sorta a 2015 release I guess. It's a good thing that I don't do end of year lists, because this sort of thing would really throw me for a loop.
This album sounds like it could have come out between 1973 and 1975, one of those big-sounding “hit” albums experimenting with then-emerging funk and synthesizers in the era before Disco and Punk would change music forever. It sounds like a coked up Elton John album from his '70s heyday filtered through the 21st century. Or maybe ELO. Smelling Ghost is one of those songs that sounds like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road era John, and that is meant as a compliment you hipster snobs.
Lydia is a great psychedelic song. That one sounds better on vinyl than on CD, as you can hear things on it that for some reason don't leap out on CD. The guitars in general sound better on the vinyl version, although the CD has more punch. Boomerang Kids sounds steeped in that early to mid-70s songcraft, back when “Pop” wasn't a dirty word.
One of my favorites is Dear Heart. I am a sucker for the early Elton John vibe, back when he had ambition and believed that he was the greatest songwriter on the planet. (That's Not) The Plan is the star of the show as far as I'm concerned. Think of Buffalo Springfield's multifaceted epic Broken Arrow...only add in cocaine and '70s excess and you're almost there. The guitar solo rules.
It's not all crooning and pop though. Lucke gets up and goes but is still catchy and has songwriting polish. There is an unlisted bonus track on both the LP and CD called Water Moccasin. I only knew the name because it showed up on my car dashboard when I played the CD (although I guess it would also show up if you put it in your computer). Now on vinyl I thought that the final song (Without Reluctance (Reprise)) was just extra long with an extended coda or whatever since I listened to it that way first. Just noting the difference in the experience of each format. It's another great song.
There is an audience for this sort of grandiose Rock out there in the basements and corner bars of the world. The trick is reaching people. Maybe someone should drive around and play it on a PA like they did in The Blues Brothers or something. With great ideas like mine success and wealth still elude me. Strange.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- For the uninitiated, this is the part where I nitpick packaging. I am a physical media dinosaur and proud of it.
LP- Super heavy cardboard with a tip-on sheet and pull out pear tab on the front. Heavyweight 180g vinyl. Weighs as much as a '60s album. Inner sleeve has a picture on one side and some lyrics on the other side. I bought the black vinyl version, as I don't trust that newfangled colored vinyl. LP comes with download code.
CD- Gatefold cardboard. CD slides into slot like a wallet, which I dislike since it will become scuffed. I won't store the CD inside of this sleeve. Inside of gatefold has the back of the album cover as well as the picture from the inner sleeve. LP cover is split between the front and back of the CD.
Available at Burger Records. Act fast, because their print runs are usually small and things fall out of print sooner than later. Operators are standing by!