In Which the Author Attempts to Write Something Nice About a CD He Finds Utterly Boring
I suppose that you can already guess from that wonderful title up there that I don’t like Melvern Taylor or his CD The Spider and the Barfly. The old saying goes that if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Well, here in the music-critic world we break that rule every day. Actually, that rule doesn’t even exist in our book. On the other hand, I am required to at least type out 400 words about the discs I review for PopMatters, so I’m going to have to find some way to fill up my time.
I’ve already seen other critics here doing the clever write-up of a bad CD in the form of a letter to our beloved Editor, Sarah Zupko, so I won’t go that route. I myself have already done the interview with my inner self for the Wes Hollywood Show disc that I reviewed here not too long ago, so out goes that method. I suppose I could actually talk about Melvern Taylor’s disc for a short while and tell you what it is I don’t like and see where that leads us. Let’s try that method.
I suppose I just don’t like any cat who fashions himself after Tom Waits and Buster Poindexter. Waits is a classic, there’s no denying that. Poindexter is . . . well, he had “Hot, Hot, Hot”. Let’s just leave it at that. There’s no use in mentioning Poindexter’s real life persona David Johansen and the fact that he was in the New York Dolls again, is there? (Oops, I guess I just did. Ah well.) Taylor tries to make music like Waits, but not really as he’s also influenced by Lennon and McCartney, but you wouldn’t really know it from the sound, so that’s moot. In the looks department, he has the Poindexter thing going on and I suppose it suits him, but then again it probably just makes him look like a retro-wannabe. Oof.
There’s 13 songs here, with such titles as “Watering Hole”, “Blue Evening Dress”, “Worn Out Shoes”, “Wine and Roses”, and “Islands in the Stream”. As you may imagine, lots of these tunes feature down and out characters with smoky barroom music accompanying it as Taylor plays his down and out character routine to the hilt. It isn’t much fun to listen to, and quite frankly I’m just tired of these newer artists or groups just riding on the coattails of much better bands that came before them. Stories of dead-end relationships, drinking, and ex-girlfriends done in this manner are yesterday’s news.
So that’s what I have to say about Melvern Taylor and The Spider and the Barfly. What can I say? When you’re saddled with something that outright doesn’t inspire you, you can’t really be expected to write something inspiring. I even wish this was one of those funny bad CDs that I sometimes get that are often fun to rant all over. But that’s not even the case with this one. Melvern Taylor is guilty of being bland and aping music that doesn’t need to be aped. Steer clear, dear readers, steer clear. As for me, I have reached the end of my review and shall go to bed. It’s the only place this music has inspired me to visit.
// Notes from the Road
"Powerful Chicago soul-singer dips into the '60s and '70s while dabbling in Urdu, Punjabi and Italian.READ the article