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Grits - As The World Grits CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.50 | 6 ratings

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4 stars For a band that never released an actual album, Grits sure were a talented band. Fortunately, the world at large finally got to hear them thanks most likely to their local connection with the Cuneiform label (both both hail from the Maryland/DC area). Cuneiform also released a second CD called "Rare Birds" a couple of years later, and while that album was an adventurous piece of live performance of extended Canterbury-like jazz rock fusion, this album, As the World Grits, consists entirely of short songs recorded in a studio. Even though it was compiled years after the fact, it holds together perfectly as a cohesive-sounding album.

The most striking thing about my first listen to this album was its resemblance to Frank Zappa, circa 1970-1971 (roughly, Chunga's Revenge through the Flo and Eddie band). When the guitars are up front, they really jump out at you, usually playing a complex riff or lick. Electric piano (by Rick Barse, the writer of all the material) is prominent as well, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the jazzy strains of George Duke or Ian Underwood. The lyrics are usually striking - not so much humorous as desperate, knowingly melodramatic, and filled to the brim with irony.

Highlights are "Easy for You", sung by bassist/violist Amy Taylor, a manic tirade of insane jealousy. "Back to the Suburbs" puts Rick Barse at the mic, whining about his emotional problems (again, with irony) and longing for the simpler days of his youth. "Plastic Hits" sounds almost exactly like a Zappa/Flo and Eddie porn-rocker, tons of fun. This leads into a connected jam, "Plastic Jam", which also sounds like it came off the Fillmore East album. Then that segues into a more delicate instrumental "Never Mind", which sounds like something off of Burnt Weeny Sandwich. Without going into every song, I'll just say that the album jumps from fun, interesting track to fun, interesting track, incorporating hard rock, jazzy rock, a shockingly touching Broadway-style number (the Taylor-sung "Distraction", about being deliriously in love, probably a bit too much so), and on and on. A perfectly enjoyable album from start to finish.

"Rare Birds" may be the more progressive album, but this album is a lot more fun. Give it a shot.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |


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