Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down

The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down (2002) ***

I almost forgot about this one, so my T. Keene page is now mildly out of chronological order.  Not that it matters:  this could have been released at any random point in the man's post-1986 career; it's not as if he's known for his dramatic shifts in style.  The problem with never changing your style is that, even if you keep releasing the same consistently good album year after year, at some point the listener grows understandably bored with the never-varying same old song.  I've read some who regard this as a particular low point, and while it may rank as the artiste's worst album (it runs neck and neck with his next one), it's still a Tommy Keene album - which means it's still highly listenable in its winning combo of punchy hard rock and keening melodic salvos.  But is it remotely exciting or interesting?  Is there anything, anything at all eyebrow-raising I can say about this album?  Yes, indeed, for as with most Keene albums, he does take at least a couple of mild ventures outside his comfort zone.  So I have precisely two interesting things to say about this CD:

1) "The Man Without a Soul," is an unpleasantly horny (instruments I speak of) attempt at swinging grit.  Fails miserably and is far o by far the album's worst (as in only actively unpleasant) track.

2) "The Final Hour," drags on for an unprecedented 16 1/2 minutes, but it's really only three separate Tommy Keene tunes inexplicably strung together into one suite.

And as typical of a late-period Keene album, he emphasizes his metallically biting guitar as much as his melodic craftsmanship, with the closer, "The Fog Has Lifted," the moodiest and most rock-oriented.  And again as typically, he kicks off the album with its best track, "Begin Where We End," a thrilling pop-rocker on the 1985 Replacements end of the rock spectrum.

Another tunefully crafted Tommy Keene album.  My duty as a reviewer concluded, can I go listen to something else?

(Again, no Youtubes.  Apparently his late-period albums play to an increasingly diminished fanbase.)  

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