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Spider John Koerner

Music is Just a Bunch of Notes

(Nero's Neptune; US: 9 Nov 2010; UK: Import)

Music is Just a Bunch of Notes is one of two Spider John Koerner reissues released by Nero’s Neptune this year, and easily the more eccentric of the two. This album was originally recorded and released in 1972, but has been rare ever since. In fact, this is its first reissue. In some ways, it easy to see why this record was so rare. The songs are excellent—from the country shuffle of “Ramble, Tumble” to the bluesy jangle of “Everybody’s Going for the Money”—but the album is always being interrupted by odd spoken-word bits. They do little more than get in the way of the flow of some great songs and in the end it makes the album a bit of a mixed bag, despite how strong the actual music on it is. This reissue also comes with a DVD of The Secret of Sleep, a film made by Koerner with Bruce and David Rubenstein. It’s an amateur video, to be sure, featuring Koerner as a wanderer Percival, who goes on a strange quest with a friend played by frequent musical collaborator Willie Murphy. It’s strictly fare for die-hard Koerner fans, if that. As with the other reissue, March 1963, the highlights of this album remind us of an important artist that often goes overlooked. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have the stunning consistency of March 1963, or any other Spider John material out there, for that matter.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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March 1963 is further evidence of how desperately we need to pay more attention to Spider John Koerner's career.
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