Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Lost Crusaders and the Mike Edison Space Liberation Army at Lakeside, NYC 12/18/09

Looking a little pale and thin and fresh off a morphine drip (don’t worry, he’ll be fine), Lost Crusaders frontman/harmonica player Michael Chandler and his steady guitarist Johnny Vigneault were wrapping up their six-week-or so duo residency at Lakeside. Vigneault sat, stomped his foot and blasted the increasingly packed back room with a reverb-laden roar while Chandler, eyes tightly closed, slammed a tambourine against his leg and ran through a bunch of the garage-gospel songs that are the band’s specialty. The style was different, but the feel was totally R.L. Burnside or T-Model Ford  – it could have been a shotgun shack in the Mississippi hills. Midway through the set, they ran through the soulful What Have You Done, a standout track from their 2007 album Have You Heard About the World that features a fantastic Laura Cantrell vocal.  The whole thing went on nonstop for almost an hour, with a few oldschool spirituals amped up for good measure.

Early shows at Lakeside are a rare enough event, doublebills even more  so. Chandler’s old 80s Raunch Hands pal, Mike Edison, inventor of  the Bongcaster and author of the hellraising memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go brought his Space Liberation Army: Dean Rispler on bass, Hollis Queens of Boss Hogg supplying a supple, laid back drumbeat and Jon Spencer wailing – and tossing off a couple of perfect Hendrix quotes on lead guitar. Edison ranted and railed, occasionally punching a soul organ riff on his Nord Electro or lashing at his theremin to emphasize a point. Although drinking what looked to be straight bourbon, he didn’t miss a beat, only occasionally referring to a cheat sheet as he gleefully recounted tales from a booze-and-drug-soaked past or savaged the right wing, Jello Biafra style as the band snaked along behind him. His story of one particularly crazy one-off Raunch Hands gig in Spain was impossible not to smile at, especially when after that show, the band discovered that although the folks who’d hired them had left them a copious bagful of drugs, the cocaine was all gone. Predictably, pandemonium ensued. “What if I crush up some of these [unidentified] pills and snort them?”  a panicked Edison asked his guitarist.

“Nope, I already tried,” was the response.

Another long rant snidely revealed the truth about Jews for Jesus: they’re not Jews, they’re really rightwing Christian nuts who want all the Jews to convert so they can bring on the Rapture (presumably, that means nuclear war, or at least something Halliburton can use to get rid of all that nasty waste from their nuclear power plants). The crew closed with a careening salute to first amendment rights, drug legalization, alcohol and porn – and the criminalization of daytime tv (this is right about where all the very strong two-for-ones started to kick in and the memory gets fuzzy). Edison’s site doesn’t have any upcoming shows listed, but watch this space: you ought to see him sometime.

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December 23, 2009 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Lost Crusaders – Have You Heard about the World

Brothers and sisters, are you ready? I said ARE YOU READY? For the NEW gospel sound of the Lost Crusaders. This is the real deal, ecstatic, often exhilarating. It will redeem your soul whether you are a believer or you just like to dance. Fans of Rev. Vince Anderson will love this album. Some of the songs here blend 60s soul stylings with gospel, others are sort of gospel punk, with a handful of straight-ahead garage rock tunes. This is an incredible party record, something akin to what JSBX (or Blues Explosion, or whatever they’re calling themselves now) is to classic 60s garage rock. In case you might be suspicious, it’s not camp. It’s just a bunch of NYC garage rock types who love vintage 60s gospel and prove they can play it as well as any church group out there. Frontman Michael Chandler holds nothing back, his hoarse, gravelly vocals impassioned and inspired. As with all good gospel bands, this album has a very propulsive rhythm section, Brian McBride on bass and Joey Valentine on drums. Don’t let the religious nature of the lyrics scare you off: this is a celebration of the spirit in all of us, atheists and Christians alike. You can dance to this. The production, by Dean Rispler at Dead Verse Studios in Union City, NJ is impressively authentic, sounding almost like a vinyl record.

The album opens with the title track, a fast major key vamp that gleefully welcomes the apocalypse, with cool solos from Johnny Vignault’s guitar and ex-Fleshtone Steve Greenfield’s baritone sax. The next cut I Don’t Ask Why is even faster, call-and-response with the women in the choir, crunchy guitars spiced with Jerome Jackson’s tasty Hammond organ in the background and a nice solo out. I Wonder What Ever Happened has a killer 2-guitar intro, evoking Country Joe & the Fish in a particularly woozy moment at the end of their good period, 1970ish with a good long harp solo after the second chorus reminiscent of the late, great Knoxville Girls. The following cut, There Used to Be a River is an environmental cautionary tale – “it couldn’t outrun the hand of man” – garage gospel built on a descending progression on the bass. With a long, killer reverb guitar solo from the Fleshtones’ Keith Streng and Chandler’s ominous croak, it could be something from the recently reunited Electric Prunes.

After that, Wasted on the Wind is a Knoxville Girls or Gun Club soundalike with a great baritone guitar solo. Planted by the Water is a fast gospel vamp, piano and organ plus crunchy guitar and a fiery chromatic harp solo. Laura Cantrell’s sweet, soaring vocals channel Kitty Wells on the beautiful, slow Too Late, Matt Verta Ray’s lapsteel coming in and out like a string section.

Other standout cuts on the album include Whose Name Will I Call, with a Stagger Lee boogie kind of feel, and the fast, joyous Where Did It Go whose protagonist trades in his booze and drugs for the holy spirit, rejoicing in having found a new way to get high. Wow. What a great album. Five bagels. With a glass of communion wine. CDs are available at shows, online and in Europe on Everlasting Records.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | gospel music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments