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Kevin Gilbert - The Shaming of the True CD (album) cover

THE SHAMING OF THE TRUE

Kevin Gilbert

 

Crossover Prog

4.21 | 179 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

rambaron
5 stars What is there to say about Shaming of the True? Sincerely, I want to be able to convey just how I feel about how immense this album truly is. If I had the time I would spill my heart and soul onto a canvas, present a Broadway musical, inscribe a poem and partake in just about every other form of art known to man, and this would still not satisfy me in expressing just how much I love this album, it is after all, without a doubt my favorite CD. Although, if there was say the complete collection of Genesis, signed by all the members then maybe my favorite CD would amend.

My favored part of this album is that it's perhaps the most accessible progressive album ever. I guarantee you that if you play it, nobody will ever complain about it because it's just so damn catchy, and is chalked full of hooks that it would put Led Zeppelin to shame. But at the very same time the lyrics, oh my, the lyrics are so charismatic, this is partly due to Kevin's experience as a folk singer. It's just so rare to find this kind of songwriting with both lyrics and instrumentation in perfect balance without sacrificing either. I have had several people who have commented on the fact that I'm finally listening to "normal" music while I have this CD playing. In fact, this album could be used as a way to convert other's into our dark world of progressive rock. But despite its easy accessibility, it often wanders into highly experimental and avant-garde territory, and yet still remains very catchy and entertaining for its brain-dead listeners.

In fact, I have gotten everybody I know to adore this album; they hate everything else I own, but this album it seems, that anybody can love.

Kevin Gilbert is the voice of every Progressive artist in the world. His album Shaming of the True basically tells the tale of the monster that is the music industry through the eyes of our young Johnny Virgil. Think Wish you Where Here by Pink Floyd, only much BIGGER and better. So not only does this have some of the greatest instrumentation, and lyrics, but it's a freaking Rock Opera. On top of that it has NONE of the flaws that have plagued every other Rock Opera every created, such as being restricted by their concept, plagued with filler, are subjected to an onslaught of reoccurring tunes, are often far too ambitious and throughout the album its apparent that the instrumentation has been compromised in order to tell details of the story. Sure I love Scenes from a Memory; but let's talk about pointless solos, Quadrophenia and Tommy; amazing but so much filler and reoccurring material, The Wall; "chuckle" don't get me started. The Lamb Lays Down on Broadway on the other hand, Kevin Gilbert really loved this album and even replayed it in its entirety at Progfest. It's obvious that he uses Lamb Lies Down on Broadway as a sort of inspiration while writing his album, but I'm afraid that Kevin manages to outdo even Gabriel and the gang with this bombastic hit.

Along with everything else Kevin Gilbert has one of the greatest voices in rock, he can manage to sound tranquil and soothing, while at other times has so much power behind his voice it rattles you and is unlike anything you have ever heard. In fact, until I heard this album, I never had a favorite vocalist because nobody's voice ever seemed to grasp me like Kevin's has.

This album is actually sort of an autobiography of Kevin Gilbert himself, due to his history; the emotion that he displays throughout the album is no doubt real. You can literally feel his hate, desperation and loneliness in your gut as you listen. This man after all, was often toyed around by record companies not to mention embarrassed and humiliated by Sheryl Crow who like a leach used his songs (All I Want to Do, etc.) to gain success before dumping him taking more of his songs with her. She has even shamelessly performed Kevin's earliest work (Leaving Las Vegas') on the Letterman show claiming it was autobiographical. Throughout time mankind has dealt with tremendous anguish which has lead to many great men who have used their suffering to influence indescribable works of art which are used today to showcase man's great accomplishment (Iliad anyone?). Through this betrayal, Kevin Gilbert became one of these men creating a milestone in artistic integrity what sadly will never be recognized in our day.

He went through a transition in which his joyous pop songs (and these are no doubt amazing pop songs) became entangled in his dark depressing despair. As he fell, his abilities seemed to amplify into his music as his songs became one word. Progressive. Kevin Gilbert first released the album Thud, which, while highly recommended by me, is obviously not his best work. It mixed some of his earlier folk songs with a few very dark and progressive songs which seemed to focus on human nature. He later began work on Shaming of the True, but died before its completion by some would say a death that matched his somewhat wretched life of suffering. Thankfully, Kevin Gilbert despite his troubles was a very kind and generous man and helped many bands get on their feet including the much beloved Spock's Beard (Btw, he wrote the song The Water, you can tell by all the swearing). Many of these people came together for this man they all admired, and completed the album in Kevin Gilbert's memory which has no doubt given him a legacy that will last forever since this album is truly timeless. I am not going to give any songs ratings for this review.

Parade is of course the epilogue introducing us to the highly anxious and ambitious young adult Johnny Virgil, who has great hopes of one day joining his heroes such as Bob Dylan and The Who as an idol and inspiration to young artists everywhere and be respected by those he once idolized. Of course, he doesn't just want to be famous; he wants to stir people's emotions, he wants his work to be everlastingly and he feels he can make a difference. You can easily tell that Kevin speaks from the heart, and faintly remembers the day before he was tainted by the wicked entity that is the music industry and believed that great things could be accomplished if you follow your heart, and never sell out. Although this song is very simple in instrumentation and sounds like it belongs on a previous album, it manages to give us an understanding into this man's soul and acts as an excellent epilogue into this tragic tale.

The second and one of my favorite tracks is The City of the Sun. The City seems to be a recurring theme in all of Gilberts work, and whenever City of the Sun is mentioned religious overtones are often not too far behind. At around 3:40, a minister is heard preaching which has lead me to believe that by City of the Sun Gilbert must be making a reference to the philosophical work of Tommaso Campanella who spoke of the great Utopia known as City of the Sun. This utopia would only become present once the New World (and old for that matter) was under the power of an Italian theocratic monarchy "shiver". The lyrics on this song are perhaps some of the most brilliantly conceived, they don't just sound great, Kevin uses several literary tools to create a great depth to his words allowing for comprehensive insight into Johnny's feelings while foreshadowing doomed fate that he himself can almost foresee in the gas station attendant who had once been a rock star. The true Genius of Kevin is that he is capable of giving all this information in very few words preventing the often tediousness of other Rock Operas. We learn that poor Johnny will most likely sell out his artistic integrity and join a world where he is primarily seen as generic faceless being in order to enjoy commercial success. The song's instrumentation is fairly heavy with a focus on the bass; we hear Johnny speaking about setting off on his journey followed by two occurrences of heavily distorted vocals much like Shadow Self off his debut album Thud.

Suit Fatigue (Dance of the A&R men) is a flawless Cappella that manages to go far beyond the abilities of anything even Gentle Giant where capable of. This song is solely composed of a collage of messages from an answering machine and assembled in a manner that is so catchy it's unbelievable. Not much in the way of brilliant lyrics here as it's fairly straightforward with several record labels trying to recruit Johnny as their new star. As with the previous song it's apparent that these companies aren't interested in artistic vision or talent but rather just money. This song will probably leave you with a real feeling of wow.

Image Maker is actually a song Kevin did on a previous album that he performed with his band Giraffe, although it's been drastically improved with better instrumentation and additional lyrics. It has quite a sweet little riff to it that again hooks you immediately. The theme of this song is in the title and reveals the nasty process of image making as Johnny is transformed beyond recognition. This process not only changes his physical image, but alters everything that he once stood for and what he believed in. He is no longer himself; he has lost his identity to an icon created by a company. Following this point, Johnny will begin a subsequent fall into self doubt as he looses himself to the image.

The saying Water Under the Bridge refers to something of the past that is no longer relevant and is a suitable title and theme for the next song following Image Maker. Johnny has obviously left everything about his old self behind "one more shake of my tail, and it falls away and dies". But he is showing resistance and sorrow trying to justify his choices to himself and move on. The song is very beautiful with excellent work in making a calming dreamlike atmosphere, along with the softly sung vocals. Near the end the song becomes slightly more chaotic as he shakes loose the last of his former self, but the song itself never seems to loose its calm feeling.

The next song Best Laid Plans rocks, plain and simple, Gilbert gets to show off the power of his voice, as well as his great vocal range. This song is the most uplifting and happy song of the bunch, as it seems that Johnny is now exactly where he wanted, he has reached the peak of his success, without realizing that it must inevitably crash down. Despite all the happiness conveyed throughout this song, as with every song up until Long Days Life, something wicked always seems to be tainting the music as Kevin still manages to slip in some cynical lyrics revealing that everything is not as it appears.

In Certifiable Number One Smash instrumentation seems to take back seat to lyrics although Kevin still manages to include some amazing guitar playing and singing. The middle contains one of the greatest groves since the 60s with Kevin talking rather than singing. This is a heavy song to get though lyrically, as there are so many different ideas, symbols, and cynicism present it's hard to write it all out. The main just of it is that Johnny is now under the complete control of the record label, which uses Johnny to deceive people into buying crappy music. The premise of the video which Kevin depicts in his speech basically contains several needless insults to religion, as he tries to offend anyone he can to create controversy allowing it to easily rise to the top of people's minds. As this will no doubt cause it to be shown on the news, and read about in papers. This criticizes artists like Madonna as her music video for Like a Prayer made similarly offensive insults to religion including the burning crosses and stigmata that spawned a hornet's nest of controversy allowing the record great success. But this is really only the top of the iceberg as this song contains so many insightful messages.

Staring into nothing is now where everything falls apart for poor Johnny. It's more than just his realization that he has sold out his artistic vision for money and fame, but rather, he no longer knows who he is, he can no longer recognize himself. According to the title, to look into his eyes, you would be "staring into nothing at all" because he is not himself; he realizes that he is a fake, a phony, a creation of suits in a boardroom, his soul is "not real". He feels this way despite the fact that everything in his life is going just as he has always dreamed. But he has no more dreams, no more drive, no more essence; he has nothing apart from money and fame which is unless without a purpose. This is where you can really hear the anguish in Kevin's voice as he just let's loose in a heartbreaking performance. You can literally feel him as he cries and moans in distress. We also learn thought a series of news reports that poor Johnny can no longer cope with his situation and cancels all his performances. The instrumentation on this song is again; very consistent in making another memorable track that is somewhat Celtic even.

The next song, Fun is very trancelike trying to create a mood similar to that of Johnny himself. We realize that his solution to his dilemma is no different than what every other celebrity's turns to. Falling into a trance like existence sleepwalking through a life solely consisting of drugs, sex and parties. To get a better feel of this song, if this album was The Wall, this would correspond to comfortably numb. This song also takes a nasty stab a Sheryl Crow and you must hear it for yourself. This song mainly just describes what anybody would call a useless and very pathetic existence.

From here to There is a song which he had previously performed with his band giraffe but unlike the previous revision, this song is much the same, apart from the instrumentation of course. This basically has Johnny come to the realization that he must stop everything to "find a way back home" meaning that he must find himself once more and regain what they took from him. He is also sick of his fame and wishes that he could just cease to exist in the public eye.

Ghetto of Beautiful things is just sweet, a real avant-garde rocker that is much like many of Kevin's later songs with his band Kaviar. This song is not really all as angry as it sounds at first, but rather shows more frustration and panic in finding his lost identity, as Johnny struggles to remember what he left behind. This is a very strong track that matches the originality and just plain coolness factor of Suit Fatigue.

A Long Days Life really deviates from the previous songs in both instrumentation and lyrics. This song not only sounds beautiful but for the first time ever, is very straightforward with its lyrics, with no sarcasm, hints of malevolence, unlike every previous song; it is untainted by something corrupt. For the first time ever we are hearing a pure Johnny as well as crystal clear instrumentation that isn't subject to any trance like effects or a murkiness as many of the other songs did. Neither he nor the music is influenced by the entertainment industry allowing Johnny to think clearly. He is once again, able to find himself though this epic adventure of self realization this song renders.

The Way Back Home was another song originally put out by Giraffe, but has been reworked once again into a much more powerful and gripping song. Once again lyrics are added to create more significance to the story. This song unlike the rest of the album has an uplifting and joyful message that can be significant all our lives. This song doesn't have the clear instrumentation that the previous one had, but the effect can be described as almost heavenly rather than hazy.

Johnny's Last Song, is also the last long on the album. It has us ending up full circle with Johnny, the now tired old man, who has himself become the old guy from the Texaco Station he met all those years ago. The music sounds much the same as the first track on the song Parade.

Since this Shaming of the True there has been released an album by Kevin Gilbert's latest band Kaviar Sessions which continues his journey into very heavy advent-grade music. It focuses on Kevin's talent at revealing the dark sides of human nature.

I believe selfishly, that this work of art was well worth Kevin's suffering and demise as it will hopefully touch many people's lives and act as an inspiration to young talent just as he would have wanted it to. It can also be used as an important lesion to these artists to avoid the same mistakes Johnny did. Not just artists can benefit from Kevin, but we can also relate as it teaches the importance of not only finding and understanding oneself, but maintaining our essence at all costs. Comedian Bill Maher once said that "dugs have lead to great things, and so what if they also kill kids, Penny Lane, worth about 10 dead kids if was I to guess, Dark Side of the Moon on the other hand, hell worth well over 100 kids." If I was to put a number on this album, our future would look somewhat like the movie Children of Men.

On a side note, woohoo, 3002 words!!!!

rambaron | 5/5 |

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