The Pursuit of Happiness : Al 'One-Eye' Edelist

Reviewlet Larry Pennisi [USA]

From the bizarre nether-regions of the Edelist musical mind comes this truly effective rendering of an oft-overlooked track from The Prodigal Stranger. Initially conceived by Allen almost three years ago, and with the superb Gary Shepard handling the musical intonations, it forms a retro-punk ethos that I would never have imagined possible from our initial conversations. While not truly 'punk' in the sense that the instruments and vocals are all in proper tune, this still works very well. On first listening, I did not even recognize the Monocular One's voice. I had thought that perhaps Allen had been nosed out of the proceedings or had opted to drop out. But there it was, in all of its growling glory ... the Voice of no Retreat!

And so, commencing quite unexpectedly with a foursquare and thunderous drum intro, guitar playing alternating octave notes and a sneaky organ glissando, it's clear from the outset that this is not the introspective, wistful observation as assayed on The Prodigal Stranger. Allen's entrance is immediate and forceful: I should say intrusive! He's in-your-face on this one and that's part of the functionality of the track. Organ is thick in the backwash (though I would not have opted to follow the vocal melody with corresponding notes on the keys during "comes in pairs": quite often a vocal against a correspondingly exact instrument line tends to sound flat or sharp relative to the perfection of the A440 beastie. That's a personal take only. It does not cause any diminution of effect, globally, and I don't think that everyone would have noticed it. I am organ-picky). The alternating octavizing on guitar continues to really add impetus to this. Allen is in top form here: his voice has more definition and clarity than we are used to, no doubt due to the more comfortable key it is in for him, as well as some tasty production values.

The chorus is roaring and full of menace. We seem to be being warned of the perils of overindulgence, and of the obsessive quest for pleasure. Round and round and round and round and round and ... again. Gary adds some discreet organ lines to the back and the wonderful nod to BJ Wilson with cowbell clicks is a big plus: young maestro Peter Clare is a wonderful drummer, though he does not drum on this, being present on additional percussive devices (in addition to being agile on several other instruments): he has quite a future if he continues with this playing. As the moon shudders, after the howling of the wolf, we are taken deeper into the belly of the beast. Jane Clare's vocals are unexpected and mixed in such a way as to seem detached yet fully integrated into the mix. Very nice production value and a smooth performance from Jane.

AY! AY! AY! ... this precedes an organ solo that is a tad too recessed in the mix for my liking. Peter's cowbells are all over the place by now and rightly so. Jane is given a "solo" section of sorts where she semi-scats her way through the round and round-about of the chorus words. An excellent addition and appropriately rendered. Harmonies from Allen and Jane close out the track.

Now a conceptual addendum, here. Yes, we all thought the Growling American was, as usual, out of his mind when he offered his first description of what he had in mind. But Allen's track-record of envisioning radical stylistic departures for Procol songs is well established. I only shudder to think what next will usher forth from the Musically Machiavellian Mind of ... the Monocular One. 4 out of 5 stars on this psycho fest!

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