You've probably never heard of The Denver Gentlemen. Even
Denverites themselves are mostly unaware. They never really released
an album (one came out several years after they dissolved), but
the members went on to become the most influential developers
of what has become known as the alt-western/country genre. Bands
like 16 Horsepower (Jean-Yves Tola) and Slim
Cessna's Auto Club (Slim Cessna), along with countless
side projects and other minor local bands that never quite made
it, were all started by members of The Denver Gentlemen.
So now, the next level of genesis begins. The Reverend Adam
Glasseye, whose real name (like the Rev. Dwight Pentecost
of SCAC) is likely a mystery to all save those who know him, was
briefly a member of SCAC, and has now forged out on his own to
evolve a new strain of this burgeoning genre.
Now, I've got to admit that I wasn't particularly sold on this
album at first listen. I suppose I'd preconditioned myself to
expect something that was considerably different from what was
delivered. If I were to offer a Bargain Basement synopsis of this
album, it would go something like: Andrew Lloyd Webber
musical gone bad; led by demented circus ringmaster.
Seriously. It really does feel like a musical: sung narrative
delivered in an exaggerated and melodramatic fashion. The real
kicker is that it feels like the stage is a circus sideshow from
the turn of the century. It has an old-timey feel that precedes
even the folky anachronisms of SCAC, (largely due to the creepy
organ music) with The Reverend himself serving as the "outside
talker." In fact, if I were to produce a modern remake of
Tod Browning's 1932 film Freaks, I would do whatever
was necessary to sign Glasseye and crew to score the music in
a New York second. Or, maybe a Denver one.
Now that I've had it in my CD changer for awhile, I've really
come to appreciate and enjoy it as a true original. Reverend Glasseye
doesn't sound like this band and that band had babies. They don't
sound like this band ate that band and got indigestion. And they
don't sound like this band ate the babies of those two other bands
it's close. I wouldn't mistake them for Andrew Lloyd
Webber either, but they have got the same flair for the dramatic,
and it has a very old, gothic and Pentecostal feel that may remind
you of the dark drama of Phantom of the Opera, and the
gray, torn, drabness of Les Miserables. I also like it
because I feel a certain measure of pride in seeing a style of
music that was arguably "born" in my home state proliferate
to and evolve in places as cosmopolitan and far off as Massachusetts.
If you'd like your alt-C&W a little darker and weirder
than what SCAC or 16 HP have offered so far, The Reverend Glasseye
will surely take your greasy, crumpled wad of bills and give
you the grand tour of this dark carnival.
1. Last Standing Man
2. Spook the Turk's Nag
3. The World Is Not My Home Sir
4. 3 Ton Chain (live)
5. Sins of Portsmouth
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