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

THE SHAMING OF THE TRUE

Kevin Gilbert

Crossover Prog


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Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I knew Kevin Gilbert during years when I was chasing tribute albums in mid nineties through a compilation album "Supper's Ready" - a tribute to Genesis (Magna Carta, 1995) and "Tales From Yesterday" - a tribute to Yes (Magna Carta, 1995). Out of fourteen tracks featured in the Supper's Ready CD, I was totally amazed with track 5 "Back in NYC" performed by Kevin Gilbert featuring himself (vox, gtr, bass, keys, cellos, recorder), Mike Keneally (gtr, kalimba, bell piano, recorder), Nick D'Virgilio (drums, backing vox), and Toby Holmes (trombone solo); produced and engineered by Kevin Gilbert. The song was re-arranged completely different with the original Genesis studio album but maintaining the tagline melody as basic structure. I do enjoy the opening part where he sung with acoustic guitar and I could not at first guessed what Genesis tune he was about to play. Wonderful one! This, of course became a masterpiece tribute song because Kevin Gilbert did make a successful performance in Progfest 1994 when he and the band (including Nick D'Virgilio) performed "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" in its entirety.

On "Tales From Yesterday" he - under the name of STANLEY SNAIL featuring Kevin Gilbert and Mike Keneally - performed Siberian Khatru of Yes' Close To The Edge album. It's an excellent performance even though it's not radically different than Yes studio album except the inclusion of one of Bruford's melody taken from solo album during the interlude segment. By the time Nick D'Virgilio (later was popular with his Spock's Beard) wasn't famous yet.

With the above background, combined with information available at his website, I could sense the kind of music style that Kevin Gilbert has adopted. The style has characterized his last album The Shaming of The True.

THE ALBUM

This album represented Kevin's life-long dream - to record a rock opera. Working closely with Nick D'Virgilio on the project, Kevin worked like mad on this project. The concept/semi-autobiographical project is the story of one Johnny Virgil, a broken rock star that battles the demons of stardom and the music industry and comes to peace with his life at the end.

Unfortunately, this was not to be the case with Kevin. Sadly, he never got to see the results of his dream finalized. Kevin Gilbert died on May 17, 1996, of accidental asphyxiation, leaving the project unfinished. After his death, Jon Rubin and Nick D'Virgilio worked for years on the album, picking up where Kevin left off, finishing the album in late 1999. The album was released in 2000 by the Estate of Kevin Gilbert and through www.kevingilbert.com.

At first listen I was not really sure about the kind of music Kevin was going to play as for me the first track Parade did not stimulate any typical prog I had been hearing thus far. My preconceived expectation was that he would repeat his wonderful arrangement with Genesis' Back in NYC style. So I was dissatisfied for the sake of not fulfilling my expectation. But, one thing struck into my mind when I carefully listened to the lyric. This came to be true especially when I opened the black-and-white booklet of lyrics. Wow! It's an excellent rock opera, I thought. And this song is basically about Johny Virgil's introduction, self proclamation and affirmation about his future as successful musician. "My name is Johny Virgil and I'm gonna be a Star. Gonna get my share of fame". This ballad opens the odyssey beautifully. It lays a strong foundation for next tracks with full stream of music rich with variations.

It's worthy to take note here when the album reaches track number 3: Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men). The choir performed here is really wonderful reminiscent of Gentle Giant. Through this track I knew why Spock's Beard's The Light (produced by Kevin) was heavily influenced by Gentle Giant. "Hi, John it's Mel from Meglaphone. I've been listening to your tape for the 19th time. Oh that's another call - can I call you .." performed firmly with transparent voice augmented with nice choirs. Lyrically, it represents John Virgil's mixed feeling of accepting a phone call from record company about his demo tape that might clear up his pathways to success. But at the same time it creates another feeling of not being important or significant as the caller excused for another call and closed the conversation. Well, I think this also represents Kevin's personal experience on his struggle with record company. For example he was rejected by major label who produced Econium - a tribute to Led Zeppelin when he submitted the Kashmir tape. The reason was that he was no one.

Another standout track that I like is Certifiable # 1 Smash that has powerful lyrics and messages Kevin is trying to convey. This track is dynamic as it outcasts a powerful story with an articulate lyrics, performed energetically in an upbeat rocking tempo with excellent vocal clarity voicing anger, frustration and dialogue in a dynamic way. It's an exciting track to enjoy.

This album must be enjoyed in its entirety and it's suggested that you listen to this album while flipping through and reading the lyrics of the 40-page hard-bound book with excellent illustrations (mostly dark). Musically, please do not expect that this is the kind of prog you have got used to hear. It's different. But I can tell you that there is an intensive use of acoustic guitar and piano throughout this album. This album was critically acclaimed and won a Grammy nomination for its elaborate packaging (the first issue of 1400 was in a beautiful 40 page hard-bound book).

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Progressively yours,

GW

Report this review (#34937)
Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is an incredible concept album about the music business. Kevin Gilbert truly was an imaginative person, and a multitalent on many instruments. On another website someone stated that he could pick up any instrument and play it nearly instantly - and knowing his music, I'm inclined to agree.

I won't go into too much detail on what his beef was with the music industry - suffice it to say that he wrote a lot of songs on Sheryl Crow's debut album and wasn't even mentioned in the liner notes. Having said that, let me assure you that The Shaming of the True doesn't even remotely sound like Sheryl Crow ...

On this album Kevin is mainly backed up by Nick D'Virgilio, who is also a multi instrumentalist to no lesser degree - well, maybe just a tiny bit less. Anyway, every instrumental part is done flawlessly, and at the same time with great passion and ambition. Production is top notch, and the mix is very open, with very little compression. I apologize for the length of this review, but one of the most intriguing aspects of this album are the lyrics, and I just had to quote some passages.

Parade: The song starts with a dissonant wall of synth sounds, which slowly get in tune and fade out. Then Gilbert sings a tasty introductory theme, accompanied by a lonely acoustic guitar.

City of the Sun: Beautiful slow song with a nice groovy bass line, reminds me a bit of the Peter Gabriel pop songs (think Sledge Hammer). But there are enough "oddities" that venture far from pop - huge choirs, odd breaks, and plenty of sarcasm in the lyrics:

Oh, Johnny you've got a seed in your head It is the seed of your demise Ambition's gonna lure you away Into the land of compromise

This wraps up the story so far: Johnny Virgil, a young musician, is tempted by the music industry to sacrifice his artistic integrity in exchange for commercial success.

Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men): This is the most brilliant a capella fugue that I've ever heard. Sure, Gentle Giant did that first, but this is executed so flawlessly and utterly brilliant and convincing ... you have to hear for yourself.

Imagemaker: Here the vocals remind me of 80s Peter Gabriel again. The song is a nice up-tempo tune which is not very progressive, but it's not meant to be - it tells about Johnny's way towards more success - that doesn't leave much room for progressiveness. At the end, there's an odd sample of the german word "Schlußmoral" ... strange.

Water Under the Bridge: This is the second utterly brilliant song after the Suit Fugue. Johnny has become "comfortably numb", if you will:

What's a drop of water In an ocean of compromise

Beautiful mellow track based on piano and acoustic guitar, with a beautiful - yet short - guitar solo and a nice build-up near the end.

The Best Laid Plans: Cool up-tempo song based on piano and guitar riffs. Johnny apparently reaches the peak of his success, everything is working out just as planned. But even in this "happy" song, there's Gilbert's bitter sarcasm:

You can tell a big man by the company he fleeces Step right on up here son see how your wealth increases Get your Cross of Iron, get your thirty silver pieces.

Certifiable #1 Smash: This is the most direct criticism of the music industry. I don't want to spoil anything, but here Gilbert elaborately describes the means which the music industry employs to cheat people into buying crappy music albums. The music plays a minor role in this song.

Staring Into Nothing: This is where things start to turn out bad for Johnny, he begins to feel empty, because he traded is art for money. This song features beautiful multi-voice interludes on the classical guitar, and again very strong vocals.

Fun: Johnny has entered the phase where he's entirely reduced to money - no real friends, just alcohol and sex ... but the lyrics are far from clichee:

Now Sheryl's in the kitchen with the L.A. Lakers Trying to get herself laid but there ain't no takers Cause they heard about the guy that she did with Aids And she's callin' 'em fags saying they're afraid

The whole song has a hypnotic feel, getting you in a state of trance, just like it must feel when you're on a bad trip - "uncomfortably numb", if you will.

From Here to There: Johnny begins to realize that something as gone awfully wrong and tries to find a way out of this situation

Ghetto of Beautiful Things: This is my favorite song on the album. Johnny is disappointed and get's angry about the music industry and tries to find the artist that he once was. But he's just too angry:

Change my sex, burn my cash Stick my tongue up the client's a** And I vanish into Nowhere's End New Jersey Uniforms, formulas, Formica, office forms Conformism, formalism, formalities

Musically, this is a nice avant-garde track which reminds me of Zappa a little bit.

A Long Day's Life: A huge contrast to the previous song ... this is again a truly beautiful work - of art. Johnny has found the artist he once was, but he is quite tired. The song has an epic quality, with underlying strings, slide guitar and an occasional choir and mellotron. Here the lyrics become utterly divine:

Love came to my house and knocked on the door I answered and said "What are you here for? Go away. 'Cause I'm busy looking for truth.

The Way Back Home: Nice up-tempo song which reminds me of Porcupine Tree.

Johnny's Last Song: This song is the counterpart of the first song - Johnny has come full circle. In the first song he was a young ambitioned man, now he's an old man whose songs are played on "oldies radio". Again the vocals are only backed by a lonely acoustic guitar and ambient sounds - and at the end, the song fades into the dissonant synths from the beginning, followed by the sound of rain on a window sill.

Report this review (#40269)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
TheProgtologist
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Best known as a co-writer for Sheryl Crowe's debut album, Kevin Gilbert was in the process of recording this scathing, unflinching indictment against the recording industry at the time of his all-too-early death.

His friends were later able to sort through his many tapes and sketchy notes to complete this tortured prog-rock-pop magnum opus, a "rock opera" concerning Johnny Virgil, an auto-biographical character who learns firsthand the hypocrisy and decadence of the modern music industry.

The album opens with "Parade," a quiet, acoustic, naďve song with the lyrics "My name is Johnny Virgil/ I play this here guitar/ I play it for myself." This leads to "The City of the Sun" with an off-kilter rock feel similar to Gabriel-era Genesis. An early favorite, "Suit Fugue" is a mostly a cappella fugue of messages left by PR men, agents, and other musical lowlifes on Johnny's answering machine. The result is equally humorous and dispiriting as Virgil first considers and eventually gives in to their demands to change his image and dump his band, justifying the decision in the sobering and haunting "Water Under the Bridge."

After the industry attempts to androgynize and pasteurize him in the "Madman Across the Water" influenced "The Best Laid Plans," Johnny finds himself empty ("Staring Into Nothing" with Yes-ish Italian guitars and melotron) and quits the business. He turns to self-destruction with "Fun," a mocking, seamy underbelly of the hit he co-wrote with Crowe. Taking the familiar melody, Gilbert contorts it into a doped up, hideous distortion that takes the listener along on a tale of a Hollywood party full of drugs, transvestites, and a particularly vicious slam on Crowe herself.

"A Long Day's Life" is a lonely, emotionally raw song of longing for innocence past with a melody that evokes the sorrow and tiredness of our hero. This beautiful, complex song takes many turns, guiding the listener back home with Virgil, back to a reprise of the opening song, this time sounding as down and out at our hero with lyrics "My name is Johnny Virgil/ I used to be a star/ A long, long time ago./ Sometimes I hear my records/ in the wee hours of the night/ on the oldies radio."

Everything about this album is absolute perfection: the lyrics, the vocals, the musicanship, the production and the incredible songs that keep me coming back long after I've memorized every note. Of course, as brutally honest as this album is, don't expect it to be released by a major label.

5 stars,highly recommended and a modern masterpiece

Report this review (#51707)
Posted Friday, October 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
horza
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Prog Archives have many fine concept albums and I have listened to my fair share of them. This album by Kevin Gilbert is the best concept album I have heard in 2005. It is also one of the top 5 albums I have been turned onto this year. I was unaware of this unique individual until only recently when a good friend told me I should give this album a listen. It tells the story of one Johnny Virgil and his journey from fledgling songwriter through the insincere and cynical machinations of the musical industry. Kevin Gilbert won a grammy for co-writing Sheryl Crow's hit "All I Wanna Do". He was dating Crow at the time and became known as the man who discovered her. The two parted on less than cordial terms and it was claimed that Gilbert wrote most of the songs on the album that catapulted Crow on the road to stardom.

When Gilbert was young he and his friends would listen to bands like the Dead Kennedys although when he got home he would listen to Genesis. His first introduction to the band was the album 'Foxtrot' and he knew immediately this was his kind of music. He also enjoyed Gentle Giant but admitted he was inspired by the energy and vibrant nature of the punk movement. As he himself said "I think progressive rock took a really bad turn in the late 70s.It lost its adventurous spirit........a lot of the bands made horrible records".

The album opens with 'Parade' - an orchestral phrase leads into acoustic guitar and we hear Johnny Virgil telling us that everyone is soon going to know his name. It is a fairly straightforward song which segues into 'The City of the Sun' which has similarities to the narrative style that Crow obviously borrowed. The drums are solid in this track due to the playing of Nick D'Virgilio, who helped in the realisation of this album. This was before Spock's Beard became famous. Next up is Suit Fugue (Dance of the A & R men). As Bill Hicks would have said, if you are an A & R man do us all a favour, go and kill yourself. These corporate sharks along with advertising types are bottom feeders and contribute NOTHING and CONSUME everything. 'Imagemaker' is a track that Gilbert had in mind for years prior to this rock opera. It is an excellent song featuring Gabriel- esque vocal stylings and a strong hook. This album has many highlights including 'Water Under the Bridge' and 'A Long Day's Life'.

I cannot hope to write the review which this album deserves. Kevin Gilbert was also known for his work with the progressive bands Giraffe and Toy Matinee. At one point in his life he received a call from Keith Emerson saying he would love to work with Kevin on a project. In 1994 he and his band including Nick D'Virgilio performed 'The Lamb Lies Down in Broadway' at Progfest to much acclaim. Sadly he was found dead on May 17th, 1996. He had been due to fly to London to audition for Genesis as their replacement lead singer. The man was a musical genius. It was said he could lift up any instrument and play it immediately. He is sorely missed.

Report this review (#59037)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Given the 90s, which are mostly sound-visionary, neo-expandable, prog-retro, metal-glorious, then alternative, post-operatic and "experimental on the side", bombastic sequential or loop-prog sophisticated (none of these are bad mottos, nor expand to speak of no referential music and art movement whatsoever; nevertheless, the more typical and more un-refreshed characters do sting the most), I'd say I rarely heard music of Kevin Gilbert's kind. Clear, artistic, conventional or rather not, delicate or rather mechanistic , a lyrical blast or a sentimental impasse, a shape of gold, a powerful instrumentality, some kind of hedonistic ideas in mix with progressive shapes and influences, music of a genre full of charm.

The magnum opus, Shaming Of The True, acclaimed more artistically than based on popularity (a great detail, if you stand to think Gilbert is keen to many music ways, thus is the first within artists to never be closed-minded), is unfortunately a posthumous recording, based on Gilbert's dream of concept music, rock opera and "art's artistry" and a bit finished by his own work, but later brought to a serious four years work by Nick D'Virgilio and fellow friends, into a complete shape and a desire (or rather taken from desire) final shape. Kevin Gilbert died abruptly in 1996, right after glory (one, again, more artistic than popular-based) came from a full-blown interpretation of Genesis's Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and a first great concept album, Thud (later to be considered the first volume of his dreamed rock opera, Shaming Of The True being, sensefully, the second) and has made him a better artist than ever before. It's actually strange how, from a childhood alienated by different feelings and special emotions to the entire music career, eclecticism and power-option, his demise was no less stranger - autoerotic asphyxiation. Incidentally, Genesis' manager was on his way to give him the chance for an audition, for Genesis's recently lost vocal entry. Imagine Genesis not with Ray Wilson, but with this lucid complex artist that was Kevin Gilbert!

Moving on to Shaming Of The True, the concept bears exactly the kind of quality I've already mentioned that Gilbert always appreciated - or, at least, has reached within years of practice, mastered in his relative brilliant way, to finally, upon all the glory achieved, to never forget it (or to blunt it by guilty, deceiving or effortless passions): music and art above popular forms (even if they exist in the entire music's way of existence and persistance, though the concept is formed on the base idea that the new-industry is one practically demonic) and stagnating easy impressions. Johnny Virgil's wondering story is mixed with the best music ever to impress and deeply be created. The auto-biographical idea is becoming, by the music's entire glow, more auto-interpretational, in what is a concept mention of popular, artistic, song-written, avant-shaped or bit alternative and fresh rock. By thinking bigger or smaller details, the rock opera comes in touch with a progressive form of expressiveness, a deep rock sense, mostly unused so brightly and so equivocally, and an interiorized mention, by which the artist is barely narcissistic, but has the lead of songwriting (flawless), multi-instrument playing (pretty outstanding) and symbolic style ambition (mostly big, but also powerful). The interpretation lacks nothing, it actually discovers richness's richness. And the deepest thing remains to like the music and recognize the beautiful work.

This is concept by refinement, deep sentimentality, a bit of geniality and a great shape of music, rock, transcendence symbols and auto-characterizing large aphorisms. At least given the triumph of the work, I cannot go lower than expectations, so this is a 5 stars fragrant of craft, art, skill and suspicious quality. And, finally, even with a most tenacious grand album, the word of advice (by paradox) is to discover Kevin Gilbert even better.

Report this review (#132061)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars In the 90s, singer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Gilbert seemed sure to become a big name in modern prog before he accidentally asphyxiated himself, tragically cutting short a promising career. His friends looked through his estate and found a partially completed album that dealt with the music industry and it's corruptive effects on artists. Spock's Beard drummer Nick D'Virgilio filled in the gaps with his own multi-instrumental skills. The result is quite possibly the greatest indictment of the music business ever created. The Shaming of the True is the album that Bill Hicks might have championed, had he too not died far too early.

The album follows the story of Johnny Virgil, a wannabe star who moves to LA in order to live his dream. Every song is a highlight, but there are notable standouts. Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men) features a humorous a cappella segment where various agents leave messages on Johnny's message machine, and it shows Johnny bowing to their demands. Water Under the Bridge shows Johnny coping with the sacrifice of credibility. Certifiable #1 Smash is the most vicious track on the album, as it skewers the tactics that the music industry uses to sell albums, from music videos to photo shoots. A Hard Day's Life is the best song on the album, as it covers an incredible amount of ground musically, and it is intensely emotional and Kevin's vocals on this song at times remind me of the emotional howl of Roger Daltrey.

I cannot divulge the full brilliance of this album, because it would ruin the concept, but suffice to say this is the concept album Roger Waters wished he had written. It is superb in every way. Kevin's vocals capture the emotional journey of Johnny, from the naive hope at the beginning to the rage in the middle to the sobered acceptance of his fate that comes at the end. They come across as a mix of Peter Gabriel and Roger Daltrey, providing a great combination of haunting softness and raw screams. The composition is also masterful, never flashy, yet perfectly reflecting Johnny's mood. Nick's drumming is perfect and he plays both original performances and patterns that Kevin had pre-programmed. It's great to hear absolutely no seams between the two. This posthumous masterpiece is sadly overlooked all too often since Kevin didn't have enough time to build fame before his death. However, if you locate this album, pick it up. It is one of the best progressive rock albums of the modern era. Rest in peace, Kevin.

Grade: A

Report this review (#134962)
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
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!!!!

Report this review (#139237)
Posted Thursday, September 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is brilliant. Kevin Gilbert is Brilliant.

I don't know how to explain this album, really. From my first listen on, I was wowed by its sheer brilliance. Musically, this album is much more complex than Thud, but the music is still somehow exceedingly accessible and friendly to all. The lyrics tell the tale of Johnny Virgil, but I would not want to ruin the story for you, so I'm not saying anything else. I'm having a hard time explaining how this album is in words, becuase words do not do the music justice. Words cannot clearly express KG's music.

The most impressive part of the entire KG experience here is that when listening, one can feel his love for music just dripping off of the entire album. His love for music, his passion, his care for it is simply so clear here. When I bought this album, I payed not just for a few songs, but I payed for pure emotion. Absolute, unadulterated passion and love for his art. You know exactly where Kevin stands after listening to this album. You know how he feels. To me, that is what music is all about: feeling the artist from his or her artistic expression of sound. Kevin can pull this off with such ease and vibrance.

If you love music, this album is for you. It's one of those albums that one simply cannot put down. No less than 5 stars. Maybe even 6.

Report this review (#152341)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I just got this album a week ago and have listened to it 3 times since then. I have to say that it is one of the best rock operas I have heard. It has a full range of music, slow and peaceful, energetic, groovy, and the whole time vocals are beautiful and strong. The story is very good it is easy to get into - without being too shallow.
Report this review (#158764)
Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unique music. You don't have to be a prog. lover to like this piece.

This is very intelligent music(and emotional too)There such a salad of influences and originality here.

In the prog music area: You can find a combination of Fish neo prog with Act crossover prog ,mix that with the prog of Primus ,put some USA prog. In other areas of rock and pop:Devo and Dylan can also be invited.

So a really excellent addition to rock music.

4,5 stars

Report this review (#168499)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Shaming of the True is Kevin Gilbert´s third album. It´s a very american sounding album with a very american concept story about a rock star and his struggle on the way to fame and of course his demise. Does this sound familiar ? Well that´s because about one thousand other bands have written about this before. Remember Tom Petty´s Into the Great Wide Open ? Well this album´s story isn´t far from that one.

The music is in the same vein as some of the more commercial and easy listening Spock´s Beard and Echolyn. There are some great songs here like the Gentle Giant ( or Spock´s Beard if that suits you better) inspired Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men). It´s uses the multilayered and polyrythmic vocals that Gentle Giant did in the seventies. It´s really well done here. There are also some almost heavy rock riffing in some of the songs. Certifiable #1 Smash has a chorus that sounds almost like eclectic heavy metal band Extreme. The lyrics are generally well written, but the story is too abused and it seems a bit trivial to me. The music is generally vers chorus structured so don´t expect some wild instrumental excursions or exciting middle sections on The Shaming of the True.

The musicianship is good, nothing to complain about there. Kevin Gilbert plays just about everything, but is helped out by Spock´s Beard drummer Nick D'Virgilio and a few other people. Kevin Gilbert is a skilled singer and I´m sure if you like his very american approach you´ll enjoy his style.

The productions is good.

The Shaming Of The True is a good album from Kevin Gilbert even though I must say I have a hard time with his very american style. Listen to Parade which is almost in american singer/ songwriter style for instance. I´ll give this album 3 stars even though it´s not really my taste, but as I always say: You can´t deny quality.

Report this review (#172793)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I believe Kevin Gilbert's death is the greatest tragedy to strike progressive rock. He was found dead on the day that word had come that Banks & Rutherford had granted him an audition as a replacement for Phil Collins which I'm certain he would have passed with flying colors and would have heralded a true third era for the prog legends. Ray Wilson did a fine job in my opinion, but Kevin would have been able to really take them to new glories. His talent was immense, as a writer, singer, musician - he was the total package and more than likely would have exposed many new people to progressive rock. His loss is incalculable.

So, The Shaming Of The True ends up being his posthumous swan-song, and what an amazing work of art it is - full of Kevin's bitter and biting humor, brimming with bold lyrics and super-intelligent music, it is a success in acheiving it's goal. 'Ghetto Of Beautiful Things', 'Fun', 'Certifiable #1 Smash', 'Suit Fugue (Dance Of The A&R Men)' - these tracks are absolutely essential listening that straddle traditional progressive rock and straight-ahead contemporary progressive pop-rock. However, some listeners might possibly be very offended by some of his lyrics - he goes WAY further than Zappa's biting social commentary, and might even make Marilyn Manson blush - that's how edgy his words were. His experiences really did twist his mind up and obviously left him anguished - he's not saying these things for shock value, he's genuinely angered and it shows. That sometimes makes the album a difficult listen.

But it is not an album to be missed, it's extremely hard to find these days unfortunately and when you can find a copy, it's generally very expensive - but it's so worth it. If I lost my copy today, I'd spend a hundred dollars for another copy without hesistation. It would serve Kevin's memory, as well as the progresive rock community well for his estate to make this readily available once again. Outside of this album, his best work is somewhat scattered among albums by his projects like Giraffe and Toy Matinee and a couple of Magna Carta prog tributes - but he also left his mark on tracks by Sheryl Crow and Madonna (of all people!) - which honestly must at least be listened to in order to understand some of the references on Shaming - for example the track 'Fun' is the dark twisted shadow-side of Crow's 'All I Wanna Do (Is Have Some Fun)'. The track 'Certifiable #1 Smash' has a section that also parodies this Crow track as well as featuring a bit that really takes Madonna to task. Madonna's flatulence is also referenced in 'Fun'. These things kind of lend a bit of a 'inside-joke' air to the album, however that joke is not very funny and is completely bitter.

All these things make the album very difficult to honestly review, this album contains a lot of REAL pain, pain that obviously led to his strange and controversial death. But the bottom line is that Kevin was a musician like no other and he is sorely and deeply missed by this listener.

Report this review (#178222)
Posted Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is one of the most intelligent, biting, emotional, powerful and amazing pieces of art I have ever heard. With Kevin Gilbert being a relatively unknown name, this is a big statement, but I feel it is justified, as is the five star rating. Kevin Gilbert is one of the most underrated artists I know, even on this site, where his magnum opus has only been rated 21 times out of all the millions of reviewers on here. He was a rising star who tragically died as he was becoming more well known, which ironically should have happened much earlier. However, Im not here to talk about the man himself, Im here for the music.

Parade: A jarring dissonant synth noise jumps in suddenly, but it gives way to a nice strummed acoustic guitar. Gilbert introduces Johnny Virgil, the fictional musician who sells his soul for fame and fortune. The listener gets an idea of Johnny's personality and desires, as well as his own musical influences. This reminds me very much of made alive from Snow, by Spock's Beard. The rain and synth sounds slowly mix again, and draw the listener into...

City of the Sun: A hard pounding rock song with some awesome synth blasts, reminiscent of King Crimsons sharp mellotron blasts. The lyrics contain a little foreshadowing, with a texaco station attendant conversing with Johnny about being a musician, and his own failed career way back when. Johnny is bored by him and kinda shrugs him off without a thought. The chorus of this song has an awesomely odd time signature, and is sung by a low, man choir, which I find pretty humorous. The more lyrical acoustic guitar interludes are slightly less indulgent than the main verse/chorus section, showing that underneath this cocky attitude Johnny has, he is still slightly doubtful of his talent and his decision to try and go mainstream. This is sung from a second person though, speaking to Johnny as if saying I will help you on your journey. The song ends with a voicemail recording from Johnny's dilapidated shack, which leads right into the messages left in...

Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men): A take on Gentle Giant's many different vocal melodies intertwined into one, but also a technique used in real musicals and operas, trying to create a feeling of confusion and chaos. This particular one is wonderfully done, with the many voices being voices of record company executives calling Johnny after hearing his tapes to try and make a pitch to him. Some of it is very outright rude, telling Johnny that his band is no good, he's the only good part, come to us and we'll make you a huge star. Johnny himself comes in to try and break the feeling of confusion and repeating statements from Parade. The song ends with a circus outro that is just ridiculous, and the weird noises lead right into...

Imagemaker: An odd collection of sounds set up the beat, with a voice on the radio speaking nondiscernable things. This gives way to the slick guitar riff full of heaviness, with the "Imagemaker" speaking in a monotone over another radio about how he's gonna turn Johnny into a star, and Johnny comes in with the powerful choruses expressing his desires for his image. A cool bridge comes in with some cool organ slides and hilarious lyrics, followed by the final verse, which is a little darker in its lyrics, and the two choruses are repeated. This song shuts off suddenly to give way for the delicate synth intro of...

Water Under the Bridge: A very contemplative, reflective piece about Johnny sacrificing his musical ideas for the fame and fortune brought on by the "A&R Men" and the "Imagemaker". The chorus is very sorrowful, and Gilbert's singing slowly crescendos as Johnny realizes what he's doing and tries to put it out of his mind. After the second chorus, a delicate guitar solo adds a tasty bridge to this wonderfully poignant song. After a short slowdown, the song kicks back into high gear for a final chorus and speed up jam. this slowly fades down and away, making room for...

Best Laid Plans: a bouncy acoustic guitar and piano jump into a poppy melody and beat, making for the catchiest song on this album, with good reason: Johnny Virgil has made it to the top, and its time to party! The lyrics are all upbeat, telling about other success stories, not all of them good in nature, but the melody makes us think that. The chorus is awesome, very well written, and provides us with some good messages with ironic undertones: everyone's a self made man, but Johnny Virgil is not? The irony only mounts higher with this line: "you can tell a big man by the company he fleeces, step right on up here son see how your wealth increases, get your Cross of Iron, get your 30 silver pieces." The bridges harks back to the intro, and the lyrics are more of a fantasy "circus of the best laid plans" where the kids run away from home to. A fantastic lyrical idea and delivery from Gilbert, accompanied by a powerful rock song make for a good juxtaposition with the next song...

Certifiable #1 Smash: The most direct, explicit, critical, and angry song I have ever heard, this song does its job well in that its not about the music: its about the ranting lyrics/singing. The riffs are very cool though, and help the lyrics out. The verses are all reminiscent of Joytown from Thud in that there are many pop culture icon references, but here they are in a very dark light, and Gilbert spits the words out as if they taste horrible, and most of the things are repulsive and ridiculous. The "certifiable number one smash" that has all these things is supposedly the same junk spewed out by other artists manipulated by their record companies into making the most ridiculous attention grabbing stuff that just sounds and feels empty. After the second chorus, Gilbert launches into the "video pitch" which is the culmination of the whole song, offending all minorities and religions, and then saying aaww no its ok, its only a VIDEO so its OK. At the end of the pitch, the Manager asks get it? yea? well if you dont... suggesting that Johnny rejects the idea as insanely dumb and ridiculous. After a repeat of the chorus and quasi-bluegrass section, the song brings its overindulgence to a close with some heavy, dark mellotron and guitar power chords. Overall, everything Kevin Gilbert hates about the music industry is poured into this song, and the result is a biting retort to everything MTV and Hollywood stand for. Now, the listener catches his breath before...

Staring into Nothing: a lovely piano intro makes us think this is a ballad, but the drums and sorrowful acoustic guitar melody remind us that this is Kevin Gilbert: he doesn't do ballads. The lyrics in this song tell the listener how Johnny has everything, but he feels empty, lost, spent. Johnny reflects on his fear of love and happiness when confronted by fans, and he puts on the face of "I'm larger than life, I never have problems because I have everything." In the chorus, however, he admits how his eyes are "staring into nothing at all." After the second chorus, he finally admits openly that he has become a shell of a human being, and everything that used to thrill him has shed its facade, and he sees it all as it is. The radio broadcast at the end foreshadows the rest of the story, with Johnny canceling his tour dates, and his "loyal" fans getting over their disappointment by indulging in the free "Johnny Beer" offered in exchange for unused tickets. This song ends with a jolt, and it jumps right into...

Fun: A funky yet somehow ironic groove underlies this song, a sad look at a rock star's social life: drugs, alcohol, sex, and more of the same. The vocal line is sung in a tired, depressed voice in a monotone that makes you hate the characters the singer is talking about. There's even a reference to Sheryl Crow, Kevin's old lover and music partner who left him for the fame and fortune offered by the songs Gilbert wrote for her. Johnny gets propositioned by numerous women in this song, revealing that he's probably hanging out with prostitutes, but he turns them down and takes more drugs. The chorus is the best part, with the word fun being sung with tongue majorly in cheek because none of this is any fun after all. Some slick sax riffs add to the funky groove, as does the wa wa guitar sounds. As it fades away, footsteps lead us into...

From Here to There: A saddening interlude where Johnny searches for something that is fulfilling, and desperately cannot find anything. The guitars and keyboards soar into the emotional heights, but they are brought back down with Johnny speaking "My mind is quiet and still" several times, and then the jarring drum intro to...

Ghetto of Beautiful things: A heavy guitar distortion riff combined with Gilbert's roar of frustration brings us out of the haze that was "from here to there". The lyrics fly from Gilbert's mouth with a level of anger and hate I have never heard in music. Lashing out at everything from pigeons to conformity, Gilbert's rage knows no bounds. The chorus expresses the desperation of Johnny: "I just wanted to work with my hands, see something go from A to B, and somehow I ended up in the Ghetto of beautiful things." The silly sounding synths remind me of the instrument Jack White solos on in "Icky Thump", and is a very nice touch to the chaos. My favorite part is the "F*&^ 'em all, this is art!" section. The last line is the most resentful: " I'm too late to be a slacker, it doesn't matter." It cuts out to reveal the beauty of...

A Long Day's life: Easily my favorite song on the album because of its power and emotion, the intro has some wonderful piano and singing from Gilbert, with Johnny revealing that he has nothing left, not even his hate that he spent in the previous song. Gilbert even uses that old adage: life is what happens while you're making plans. The chorus is soaring and achingly beautiful, and the verses and dream recollections tell us how Johnny is piecing his life back together, while the chorus is a plea to "love" to not abandon him and comfort him for once in his life. There is a lovely section after the second dream recollection with acoustic guitar solo and piano backing that is simply gorgeous. The fadeout of this song is merely the main theme on guitar with some epic organ backing it, flowing nicely into...

The Way back Home: Some awesome bongos and atmospheric keyboards/piano take the listener into the realm of porcupine tree. The lyrics are very intriguing, portraying Jesus as a random man on the street offers to help Johnny find his way back home. The rest of the lyrics force the listener and Johnny to confront their deepest feelings, and theorize about the existence of God, and simplify it all into "finding a better way". The driving chorus is a highlight, with a lovely choir backing Gilbert's anguished yells. After a soaring, searing guitar solo, Jesus comes back into the story, telling Johnny about how "love is the way back home"... giving way to...

Johnny's Last Song: merely a coda to the album, this song brings back the opening theme revisited in a more sorrowful mood, with Johnny reflecting on his past with regret, but eager to tell others of what he has learned, and it ends on the most powerful line I have ever heard in music: "Believe in what you're doing, remember who you are, and who knows where you'll go."

Powerful stuff. Thats all I have to say

Report this review (#183477)
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There are few perfect albums in the world, even in the great progressive rock world. I don't give out 5 star reviews all the time, and even when I do, the album rarely is complete perfection and without any flaws. The Shaming of the True is one of these perfect albums. It is completely flawless, and is one of the greatest albums of all time. It tells probably the greatest story of all time in progressive rock history.

The Shaming of the True is a concept album about (who originally was) an ambitious young man named Johny Virgil with a love for music wanting fame, but also wanting to make the music he wanted to. Record labels turn him into somebody he never wanted to be, and before you know it, he's caught up in drugs, sex, and no longer values his life. He eventually is trying to find the "way back home" and sees a homeless man on the sidewalk who claims he is Jesus. Johny asks the man if he knows how to get back home, and the man says the answer is love. This leaves questions of whether or not the man really is the second coming of Jesus. By the last song Johny is an old man who's lived most of his life, and is clearly unhappy. He hears his songs on the oldies radio, and ends on the note that started the album. This is followed by rain on a windowsill.

Clearly, I believe the story and lyrics are incredible (though there is some profanity, that is all in context and actually is used well). The music lives up to the same high standard as the lyrics. "Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men)" is one of the finest A Capella fugues I've ever heard. While most of the music isn't extremely complex, it is all perfectly written. It has a perfect mix of emotional and hard rock songs, with enough oddities that make it excellent progressive rock.

All in all, this album is a masterpiece. It's upsetting that Kevin Gilbert had a tragic death before the release of this album, and never got to see his dream of making a rock opera. I'm giving this incredible album its 23rd rating, which proves how overlooked this perfect album is. This truly is a hidden gem, and almost everyone that I've discussed this album with loves it. This ranks up there with Selling England, Close to the Edge, and Wish You Were Here, but sadly doesn't have the popularity these albums have.

Fully deserving of a 5/5 star review.

Report this review (#222483)
Posted Monday, June 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars Indeed, American feeling is strong here. After all, it's not bad to deny your heritage and I have no problem with that. Well, I like it, it's just another way of doing good music, use your background, things around you and blend them to something bigger. Fun sounds quite like Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do", so after reading story of her/his life, it's all more clear. I'll not go into repeating the story again, as other did it far better that I would be able to, but I like it and can appreciate it. Well written and composed concept albums always attracts me, as I like reading, in this case listening stories. Music is very various, as Gilbert's category is eclectic, he truly belongs under this definition. Even I don't like these categories (as they confuses as much as they helps), sometimes they tells the truth.

5(-), as I don't see as much perfection here as in The Wall, another dramatical story about music star. But both are different, this one is more modern one. Suit Fugue is probably the most original idea I've heard in many days. I like irony tone here. Almost masterpiece and after all, it is. But that's of course not fair, everything fails when compared to bricky, vertical structure (masterpiece number 1 in my mind). But if something can do similar thing in different way, then I'm amazed. How could not I be.

Report this review (#241537)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars With so many glowing reviews here I was curious to get this album and know what the fuss was all about. After several spins I found that this work is a very good concept album even if the musicanship involved is not exactly what I call appealing to me. Like in most concept album the music works for the story line, so there are lots of changing styles and moods, but the instrumental side suffers a bit. And the concept is far from new. In fact is the same old story of the rise and fall of a rock star. It is well written and performed I should point out. But I heard far more impressive and pleasant ones, as far as the musical score is concerned (the lyrics are another story completely).

Not that The Shaming Of The Truth does not have its bright instrumenbtal moments.. it does. It is clear that Kevin Gilbert was a talented man and he knew music deeply. Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men) for instance is a highlight. This a capella song has some of the most delightful vocal cannons ever heard since Gentle Giant´s Knots. There are other bits and pieces that I enjoy too, but unfortunatly for my ears, the musical flowing is uneven at best and there is not too much instrumental interludes taht captured my atention. You have to pay atention to the story all the time for the music to make sense. And it kind of bored me after some time.

Anyway, if you´re into concept albums (specially of the american style), then I guess this is for you. Although I found it to be more interesting than really appealing, it does not mean that The Shaming Of The Truth is not a fine prog album of sorts. It just didn´t fit my tastes. That´s all.

Report this review (#280687)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Based on my initial look at the album's concept, I was fully expecting an album-long version of Bad Company's song Shooting Star, complete with the tragic lead character named Johnny. And that's exactly how this album starts, but boy oh boy does it dig deeper after that opening song!

Is this a flawless album? In my opinion, no, but the first half--from the intro through Certifiable #1 Smash--sure is darn close to perfect in my book. The music is great, ranging from an Alan Parsons sound (Water Under the Bridge) to rocking Who-style (Best Laid Plans) to Gentle Giant rounds (Suit Fatigue). The evolution of Johnny from an innocent music lover to over-the-top and misguided superstar/showman is absolutely brilliantly paced and put to catchy and multilayered music.

...and the lyrics! I am not a lyrics guy, but they are impossible not to notice in this album. My personal favorites are Suit Fatigue (the multi-part harmonies allow for new discoveries virtually each time you listen) and #1 Smash (which somehow explains the deranged artistic perspectives and logic behind the many incomprehensible and ridiculous music videos out there). And Best Laid Plans represents a legitimate killer single that somehow fits right in the middle of all this musical variety.

In the second half, I lose interest and the pace is less appropriate, though there is plenty to like, from the bitter cynicism in Fun to the unbridled anger in Beautiful Things. I do believe things tie together very nicely (and cohesively) with Way Back Home and Johnny's Last Song, which at least allows for a fulfilling ending to this captivating musical story.

Two people must be acknowledged for this great piece of work: Kevin Gilbert, who is a great writer, lyricist, orchestrator, and--not to be undermined--talented vocalist (perhaps not technically, but certainly with regard to the emotions of his pieces); and Nick D'Virgilio, who clearly was motivated by more than financial benefit and worked hard to deliver this gift to the prog community and his deceased friend.

I typically listen through #1 Smash, then skip to Way Back Home and Johnny's Last Song, which tells me the story I want to hear. The brilliance of this album is that you could tell a slightly different story with a new playlist, and it could be equally meaningful to you. Rewarding, well-produced, clever, and occasional powerful material--a worthy legacy for Kevin Gilbert.

Report this review (#280923)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favorite albums of progressive rock ever, along with Close to the Edge, Foxtrot, and Images and Words. Kevin was such an amazing songwriter in every way, creating an ultimate fusion of pop sensations ("Imagemaker," "City of the Sun"), satirical commentary towards the music industry ("Certifiable #1 Smash") and solemn and sometimes sorrowful prog ballads ("Staring Into Nothing," "Water Under the Bridge"). I was first introduced to him by my music teacher who taught Kevin at my high school. My friend's dad also knew Kevin and he gave me a copy of Shaming of the True to see if I liked it. After that, I was hooked! Each song bleeds thriving emotion and pounding beats that won't stop me from jumping on the walls with excitement. Now I listen to it 24/7.

It's amazing to see an artist such as Kevin Gilbert to have a wide array of instruments at his disposal to create his colorful and meaningful music. Collaborating with Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard fame, the presentation is very unique down to the creative booklet the CD comes in. As I'm transported into the world of Johnny Virgil, his world comes to life through the characters he meets and through his inner turmoil to find his true voice. Each song develops a personality of its own, which makes kevin very versatile in every way. Exposing the music industry through his gritty lyrical content and interesting expose, I've no doubt that such a feat is destined for becoming more progressive that still keeps going to the edge no matter what.

If you're looking for some great and truthful prog with a cool pop feel and edgy lyrics, this is definitely something to hear. Truly a masterpiece!

Report this review (#283720)
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a unique album. This is a rock album, written by a man who's been through the whole music industry and back, written to mock the entire music industry.

The album follows the rise and fall of the rock star Johnny Virgil, from when only dreamed of glory, all the way to the point when he hears himself on the oldies radio station. It's a beautiful story full of every stereotypical rock element, drug abuse, crazy stunts, women galore, you know the rest. It's gripping and raucous, but also sad and depressed as he drives his progressively empty life into the ground. At each point in the story, we see the music industry at its worst, and most generic, point. The blend of everything over-the-top and everything you know to exist already creates an amazing line of memorable lyrics, song after song.

The best part however, has to be?.. the music (what a surprise). As the story progresses, so do the sounds and styles of the music. From the departure point, singer/songwriter style, we hit a myriad of rock subgenres, each more rowdy than the last showing, and each style perfectly summing up the story at that point. Through grunge and punk?through vocal fugues and 70's fun, the story and the music weave together to make a pleasing array of idiotic satire and ironic humor.

A solid 4 out of 5 stars, an excellent addition to any music library.

Report this review (#292852)
Posted Saturday, July 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Bitterness and profanity.

After getting a taste of the limelight, being used and tossed around, Kevin had enough I think. And like Jose Canseco, Marie Osmond or Dan Wilson of Semisonic, it is time to settle the score and say the things that need to be said. The truth? At least, a lousy experience, a fake game that leaves you empty feeling.

I like the concept. Very much. It's appealing to hear the other side of the fame medal, and Gilbert does it very well. From the girls, to the management, to the brown nosing, to the fans, Gilbert is pouring out his heart...and has quite the potty mouth too. Wow, the speech has the quality of being frank!

I don't find anything particulary attracting about the music, sorry. The songs are okay, but nothing to throw you off your chair. It has that pop feel mixed with Neal Morse here and there, some will appreciate...some will find it ordinary. No long keyboard solos, 90's guitar and simple melodies.

I was not wowed, and frankly disappointed. After so many raving 5 stars review, this is not the pinnacle I expected. What am I missing? I mean, I get the statement of the record, but the music is too bland.

Par.

Report this review (#415846)
Posted Monday, March 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

The unfinished project of Kevin Gilbert is a real journey through the world of rock and roll replete with references to the giants of 70's, outstanding musicianship and a vulgar, very vulgar language.

"My name is Johnny Virgil and I'm gonna be a Star. Gonna get my share of fame". This is the desire of the protagonist of the story of The Shaming of True by Kevin Gilbert. The album is best known theme of the genre, so often treated in fiction and reality: the rise and fall of a rock star. The letters sarcastic and vulgar (and unfortunately very real) set the tone of lyrical album.

It's a shame to know that Kevin Gilbert did not live to see his complete works, he died of positive auto-erotic asphyxiation in 1996. I think he would have been proud of what Joe Rubin and Nick D'Virgilio did with his album. Because there is no sense of something missing in The Shaming of True, even between the death of its creator and its launch four years have elapsed it.

The album itself is a complete cycle, as can be noted that the same notes of dissonant keyboards and terrifying open and close the album (well actually closes the album with sounds of rain, but the keyboards precede it). And in this cycle there are 14 impeccable songs, most of the same level. There is provided an occasion for introspection and quiet (Johnny's last song, From there to here) the acidity and sarcasm directed at the music industry (Certifiable # 1 Smash), the conventional pop and pleasant (Imagemaker, The Best Laid Plains) and even there a capella a la Gentle Giant (Suit Fugue (Dance of the a & R Men))! In general these are all great songs.

4 stars. A great album, I think that people more will come to know him.

Report this review (#540478)
Posted Sunday, October 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I don't have much sympathy for concept albums about people destroyed by the evil music industry making them rich and famous and giving them everything they could have possibly dreamed about, even when they're recorded by people who had actually made it big in the industry (see: Pink Floyd's The Wall). I have even less when they're recorded by comparatively obscure artists who got passed over by the A&R men, because the taste of sour grapes generally doesn't improve the flavour.

In the case of Kevin Gilbert's Shaming of the True, what we have is a concept album about the subject matter which was completed after Gilbert's death, a death which - whilst tragic - shouldn't blind us to the album's shortcomings. Nick d'Virgilio of Spock's Beard took the lead in finishing off the album, which might explain why it has this Spock's Beard tone to it here and there, though I suspect this is also a matter of common influence - Dance of the A&R Men, the best song on the album, consists of complex, layered vocals in the sort of experiment Gentle Giant were known for back in the day.

However, away from that particularly amusing novelty track, the rest of the album seems rather bland and vapid to me, and I honestly wonder whether it doesn't get an easy ride and extra publicity simply because of the sad circumstances surrounding its release.

Report this review (#772854)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I always wonder what this would have ultimately sounded like had Kevin Gilbert actually finished the album. Kudos to all who got it done but you wonder what would have happened had Mr. Gilbert put it out and not passed away. It's an age old story of integrity vs. selling out in the music industry, heard before but done SO very well. The album is a master class in writing and recording perhaps only bested by Gilbert's earlier work on the sole Toy Matinee album which is probably the best sounding album since Steely Dan's AJA. No need to go song by song here. Find it at kevingilbert.com and be amazed as you wonder in amazement at this "lost album" and rare treat that seemingly way too few people know about.
Report this review (#1941063)
Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018 | Review Permalink

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