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Bob Drake - 13 Songs and a Thing CD (album) cover

13 SONGS AND A THING

Bob Drake

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.71 | 3 ratings

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penguindf12
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This was ever-so-slightly disappointing - sort of a Bob Drake "odds & ends" collection. Don't get me wrong, there are EXCELLENT songs here. But the on the whole this doesn't hold together exceptionally well. It's not really a great introduction to Bob's work; "The Skull Mailbox" is best for that, or even "What Day Is It?" ("Shunned Country," is, in my opinion, his masterpiece, but it may not make for the best introduction).

In any case, Witness:

"Chase." 100% excellence in all ways. An instrumental masterpiece.

"Foam II." A distantly-heard folk tune about an interesting stairway. Excellent ambience that soon becomes a typical Bob Drake straight-ahead rock piece. Fortunately, bizarre production values return once more for the finale, in which bass and guitars struggle to be heard through what sounds like a brick wall in front of the microphone.

"Abandoned Thermal Establishment." Mildly interesting Drake-rock. Man, what a pernicious phrase.

"Rtuff." Excellence. An overview: guitar & bass battle piles of miscellaneous junk; a nice folk tune appears. Guest vocals in Spanish appear from seemingly nowhere; a sax solo ensues over some incredible "electronic" dance music performed in at least two time signatures simultaneously on acoustic instruments. It all culminates with slammingly loud blasts of symphonic dissonance. BUY THIS ALBUM, if only for this track.

"Ten for a Dime." Another INCREDIBLE tune. Heavy doses of Mellotron for all you progheads. An amazing tune that gives me chills. Also probably the most epic song I have ever heard about a dime store.

"Move the King." A hit single featuring Drake's circuit-bent noise box & barking dogs. Folk rock for the new century.

"In Case the Insulator Fails." Probably the best old-timey country-folk tune in existence. HUGE sound here.

"Griffin." Another hit single! The subject matter this time around: magical whitewash, a forgotten museum with huge statues, & sexual lust. And, no, I wasn't being sarcastic about this being a hit single - it's quite catchy.

"Pechan and Willy." A demented waltz arrangement - again, wonderful.

"Spicules." What happens when you sing your vocals into a microphone embedded within a violin, send them through a heavily distorted guitar amplifier, then record the results? Musical excellence.

"Plinth Shriveller." Here Bob uses a random word generator to compose his lyrics. The music is also excellent, an epic on par with "Ten for a Dime." Incredible juxtapositions of style.

"Building with Bones." M'kay, here comes the disappointing part of the album - some may fancy 13-minute tracks of slowly accumulating bits of percussion in a stochastic/acousmatic manner, but I am not a fan. This reminds me heavily of "process music" & Steve Reich-style "minimalism," of which I am also not a huge fan. HOWEVER - it is my understanding that many people do enjoy this, so please ignore my subjective fancies!

"And the Sun." Continues in the abstract vein of the previous track. A piano in the other room plays slow, nostalgic chords as an ambient texture of bowed wine glasses congeals nearer to us. Actually quite nice.

"Foam I." The Spanish vocals return, now in a strange, distorted vision of so-called "world music." Not my favorite, but not a horrible way to end an album.

After typing this, I've changed my mind a bit about this album - it's pretty good. What keeps it from being excellent:

1) It only contains about 30 minutes of actual songs. 2) It's rather disjunct as a whole.

It's still classic Drake, if slightly "de riguer." Pick this one up if you are a confirmed fan, don't start here!

penguindf12 | 3/5 |

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