Andre Ethier with Christopher Sandes Featuring Pickles and Price
Styles: folk, blues
Others: Mark Lanegan, Tom Waits, Dylan, The Rusty Hinges
Sloppy tape hiss. Tinkling piano lines fading away into hesitance. Strummed guitar gently pushing things along. The band strikes up and slips into a familiar stroll. When thrashing out the first VU record, jamming in NY lofts, Lou Reed imposed a sanction whereby if any of the players played an anonymous, obvious blues lick, they were immediately fined. If only someone had done that here.
This record is comprised of nothing but anonymous blues licks, only made listenable at all by the all-too frequent moments where our supposedly soulful bluesman remembers that he's supposed to be sounding like that Bobby Dylan guy, and slips back into the act -- 'Hey kids, serious artist at work here, this is poetry don't'cha know'
The reason I cringe so at licks like this is the same reason that Neil Young got a guy who'd never played piano before to play all over After The Gold Rush; is the same reason that the Rusty Hinges record I Slept With The Milk Monitor, is one of the great masterpieces of the last decade in rock music. (Twelve tracks, electric guitar, drums, bass and piano, all two minutes and twenty two seconds long, all improvisations by four year old children. The band then sang free-form nursery rhymes and 'beat-lullabies' over the top, sliding from channel to channel, drowning each other out and submerging in a porridgey swirl of contrived childishness.)
Innocence and expression are a thousand times more engaging than rules about how to make a "good record."
Not once have I managed to get passed the chorus of "Little Saddy" before turning the thing off and playing Mark Lanegan's "Little Sadie" from "I'll Take Care Of You" instead. Which is particularly revealing seeing as it is only the second track. This record has none of the raw, overflowing humanity and depth of Lanegan's record, which is a masculinley graceful example of taking established song forms and playing within genres to create a great record. Andre Ethier would do well to take note if he goes back into the studio.
1. Let Me Put My Suitcase Down
2. Little Saddy
3. The Hanging Man
4. Crazy May/Dirty Dave
6. Last Line
7. Dear John
8. Requiem for Man and Family
9. She Will Never Be Your Girl
10. Honey Drips, Butter Runs
11. The Night
12. Sweep Up After Me