Friday, October 05, 2012

A Working Museum

I didn't really know what to expect with this one since I only knew Amy Rigby from three songs, which was exactly two and a half songs more than I knew of the work of Eric Goulden a.k.a. Wreckless Eric. But I liked those three songs enough (even though two of them weren't her own compositions) that I plunked down my $15 through Kickstarter and gave it a shot. As it turns out, it's a pretty likeable record. As the song list on the cover implies (it's typed by someone who evidently learned to type using the same method I did, which is to say no method at all), this is very much a homemade production, cranked out by two veteran musicians who have kicked around a bit, have been working together for a while, and who have also been a married couple for the last few years.

Amy Rigby is an American, Goulden a Brit. They're a bit of an odd couple musically, at first glance, Rigby coming across as a typically self-aware, acoustic guitar-toting singer-songwriter, though with an appealingly off-beat delivery and a skewed sense of humor, and Wreckless Eric being more of a '70s punk rocker and looking a bit worse for wear, as do many of us of his vintage even if we weren't ever punk rockers back in the day. They wind up complementing each other quite well, as it turns out; Rigby can stomp around and rock out with the best of them, and Goulden writes intelligent, melodic pop that deserves better than the horrible pub sound systems and rowdy audiences he probably had to endure in his original heyday (aw, but I bet he loved it, at least some of the time).

The highlights here for me are Rigby's "Do You Remember That?," a slightly different version of which I first heard via the Radio Free Song Club, and "Rebel Girl" (which is apparently a posthumous tribute to someone, though I don't know who), and Goulden's "A Darker Shade of Brown" (which contains the plea "Aw, God save us from sanitized sex") and "Zero to Minus One." There are one or two misses, by my count, but really this is a solid record, produced with handmade care without the involvement of the bean-countership, which at this point has pretty much given up on this kind of music anyway.

As for the title, the explanation is in the liner notes:
We've called this album A Working Museum, because at this point, with a combined musical career of 70 years, that's probably what we are. There's something unnatural (though hopefully not undignified) about people our age making pop music and hacking around the club circuit, but that's what we do.
Here, by the way, is a video of Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric from a few years back, doing a version of Eric's much-covered "Whole Wide World," plus the beginning of "Take the Cash." See if you can tell whether they're having a good time.

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