Peter Murphy/Unshattered/ Viastar

Filed under: Recorded Music — doktorjohn March 27, 2005 @ 2:30 am

After three disappointing CDs in the past five years. Peter Murphy has come back with a fine album that is strictly in the rich style that he has been developing ever since the breakup of his seminal band Bauhaus. “Unshattered” contains eleven tracks characteristic of Murphy’s development since he went on his own and has the potential to undo the damage done to Murphy’s fan base by the last prior album ”Dust” —a poorly-received but highly-accomplished effort in which he abandoned the rock idiom in favor of entering the Near Eastern genre.

Show-casing his rich baritone, he sings and recites mysterious, sometimes enigmatic poetry to the accompaniment of heavily rhythmic, dark and mainly minor-key instrumentals. A few tracks have the harsh, monotonous dissonance that is reminiscent of old Bauhaus numbers, but most songs on this album are profoundly, richly melodious. A couple make odd but sparing use of an accordion or delicate, bent note guitar accompaniment. All entries on this album represent a returning to the beloved style of his best prior discs, “Cascade,” “Holy Smoke” and those albums previous.

Gene Loves Jezebel—Flops!

Filed under: Live Music — doktorjohn March 16, 2005 @ 9:32 pm

What’s to Love: Gene Loves Jezebel?

Gene Loves Jezebel/Albion/ Dec. 10, 2005
By Doktor John

What’s worse than watching a has-been band mercilessly heap disrespect on loyal fans who turned out hoping to recapture the musical pleasure they expected, based on that band’s past performance? You know what’s worse? Fans who eat up that kind of abuse and who shower adoration on the very artists who abuse them.

Fragments of the 1980s semi-Goth trio (quartet? five piece?) band, Gene Loves Jezebel, has been making sporadic comebacks since the late 90s, and appeared at Albion/Downtime (formerly The Batcave) on a Saturday night, this time reduced to a duo, consisting of one of the Aston brothers (who cares which one?) and a very young guitarist, obviously too young to have had any connection with the original, ever-changing ensemble.

Instead of treating the nearly packed house of nostalgia-seeking rockers to reasonable renditions of their well-liked hits, they mockingly performed vapid “unplugged” versions, with neither effort nor accomplishment. A certain level of skill was displayed by the recently-recruited acoustic guitarist, but Ashton’s singing was a disgraceful display of sarcastic talking, giggling, scornful falsetto, comical bellowing and flaunted inability to recall his lyrics.

When Ashton forgot his lyrics, he contemptuously allowed the pitifully loyal audience to sing in his stead. Only a small percentage of the set was recognizable to listeners who, like this reporter, had a casual knowledge of their four or so albums. Personally I would have preferred to have never heard such pathetically empty, flat versions of “Jealous” and “Kiss of Life,” and may never be able to enjoy the recorded version of these and other of their songs in the future. In between songs Ashton grinningly mumbled a snide, unfunny narrative about a sex, crack and his mother. What could be worse?

This pathetic exhibition followed and contrasted with a fine performance by opening band Ninth House, which had earlier put on a supremely entertaining, totally virtuoso presentation, displaying tight mastery of both their own and cover material, as well as sincere commitment to and respect for their audience. In addition to their impressive original songs, they performed a crowd-pleasing, rocking version of the classic “Ghost Riders In The Sky,” that alone justified the price of admission.