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Sigmund Snopek III - Thinking Out Loud (as Snopek) CD (album) cover

THINKING OUT LOUD (AS SNOPEK)

Sigmund Snopek III

 

Eclectic Prog

2.14 | 3 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Apparently Sigmund Snopek III spent most of the late seventies the same way so many other art and progressive rockers did, namely by distancing himself from these suddenly unfashionable musical forms in favor of vapid, trite and otherwise shallow New Wave pop. But given this guy was about as conventional as punkers were subtle, he couldn't quite escape his avant-garde leanings. The result is an album that is just as shallow and subtle as Joe Jackson's 'I'm the Man', but at the same time as sporadically clever as some of Jackson's more memorable cheap pop as well.

By this point Sigmund had left the Bloomsbury People far behind and was pitching his quartet as simply 'Snopek' consisting of himself, Byron Wiesmann and Jim Gorton who had appeared with him on other albums, and drummer Mike Lucas who would show up again on some of Snopek's future solo work. The 1996 CD master would be issued under the name Sigmund Snopek III, but the original was attributed to the band.

The first couple of songs on the album are pretty much throwaway seventies rock in the vein of former Orleans front man John Hall, Greg Kihn and the like with cheesy keyboards, trite lyrics and the occasional slightly interesting guitar riff but not much else. Have I mentioned that the band photo on the inside liner shows Snopek looking a lot like Jack Black posing with the members of Queen? Well it does. Or maybe something like the Cars without Ric Ocasek. And sort of sounds like the Cars too, but without the big guitar sound.

Sigmund can't help himself as the album unfolds though, as we find him inserting weird tempo shifts and clichéd keyboard forays on "Shining in Here" and the slightly Weird Al- sounding "Hamburger Holocaust", which is just as forgettable as the title suggests, as is the mercifully brief "God is a Big Wheel"; and "New York Jumpers" is an upbeat and funky tribute to big city suicide faddists. But by the time "San Francisco Radio" rolls around Snopek can't hold himself back any longer and launches into a lengthy keyboard/electric flute instrumental passage that eventually works its way to a driving finish fat with some pretty decent guitar soloing. Nine minutes that don't belong on a New Wave album at all, and the first sign that maybe Sigmund Snopek isn't taking this recording all that seriously after all.

The original vinyl release ends with "Kali Kala", a decent piano/guitar/flute piece that is kind of directionless but is a less grounded in the late seventies than anything else on the album.

Like I said this record was reissued on CD in 1996, and that version includes several 'bonus' tracks. The original studio tapes had been lost by then so the original tunes were remastered from vinyl and while I suppose a serious audiophile could tell the difference I can't say as I can on my crappy old stereo, and since I picked this up for only a couple dollars it wouldn't matter much anyway.

The liner notes don't explain where these other tracks came from but "Hymn" and "Unknown Performer" sound a lot like Al Stewart circa the early eighties and may have been recorded later, while "6 Pack Heaven" is a pure cheese-fest that was clearly written around the same time as the vinyl tracks. The other two bonus tracks are alternate takes of "Shining in Here" and "Radio Hearts" that (if possible) are even bouncier and crasser than the originals. Clearly meant to do little more than fill up most of the CD space.

This isn't a very good album and I can't imagine even Snopek would claim it is. For his fans I suppose it's a collectable piece, but for anyone else interested in his better work I'd recommend, well, just about anything else. Two stars only because of "San Francisco Radio" and "Kali Kala", but not recommended to anyone in particular.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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