Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kevin Gilbert - The Shaming of the True

Prior to his untimely passing in 1996, Kevin Gilbert just finished the final touches on this fabulous concept album, which would become his posthumous rock opera entitled “The Shaming of the True”. An ambitious project, the tale of a fictional rock & roller named Johnny Virgil who gets signed and dropped by a soulless record company, “The Shaming of the True” is epic, cinematic, loaded with rock-solid performances, cynic, temperamental, sharp, dark, funny, frank and infectious enough to grow on you listen after listen. The protagonist's hopes and disillusionments become tangible through Gilbert’s complex lyrics, biting commentary, insightful and heartfelt observations about the record industry as they relate to human nature. All these elements are eloquently mixed with his amazing writing, instrumentation and productions skills, which had earned him the respect of his peers. Gilbert again makes you take a look at yourself through perhaps the autobiographical heartfelt story of Johnny Virgil. Gilbert’s cynical view of the record industry, which never diminished his love for the music he created or collaborated on, was probably enhanced after being out-cast by then girlfriend Sheryl Crow from her breakthrough success "Tuesday Night Music Club" and after his run-offs with the record company regarding the promotion of the Toy Matinee release. Crow’s "Tuesday Music Club" was crafted around the songs and spirit of a group of friends who would gather on Tuesday nights to drink beer, jam, and write songs at producer’s Bill Bottrell's studio. Gilbert and Bottrell were hired to re-shape Crow’s already finished production after the record company had spent half a million on it without favorable results (read San Francisco Chronicle article by Joel Selvin). Gilbert co-wrote and appears on many of the songs on that album, including 1995 Grammy Record of the Year "All I Wanna Do". After Crow broke through, she dumped the club’s collaborators. At the time of his death “The Shaming of the True” was an incomplete masterpiece with a pile of tapes and handwritten notes by Gilbert. A few months after Gilbert’s passing, recording engineer John Cuniberti and Spock’s Beard drummer and close friend of Gilbert's, Nick D'Virgilio, who had been working along with Gilbert on this production, were asked by manager and friend Jon Rubin, to archive and catalog all of Kevin's recordings for his estate and thus finish “The Shaming of the True” based on the existent tapes, Gilbert's album planning notes and rough mixes as kind of blueprints along with the constant question: what would have Kevin done? (Read John Cuniberti’s article). Thanks to their hard labor of love we can enjoy this masterpiece. Personnel are: Kevin Gilbert on vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and percussion, Nick D'Virgilio on drums, percussion, guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals, Brian MacLeod on drums, Robert Ferris, Jennifer Gross, Skyler Jett, Claytoven, Sandy Sawyer, Jon Rubin and Timothy Dumbar on backing vocals and Tommy Dumbar, Ross Parish, David Levita and Bill Bottrell on additional guitars plus horns by The Le Petomane Ensemble.

Track Listing:
1. Parade
2. The City of the Sun
3. Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men)
4. Imagemaker
5. Water Under the Bridge
6. The Best Laid Plans
7. Certifiable #1 Smash
8. Staring into Nothing
9. Fun
10. From Here to There
11. Ghetto of Beautiful Things
12. A Long Day's Life (sampled above)
13. The Way Back Home
14. Johnny's Last Song

Buy it at Kevin Gilbert’s webpage (and help his state & family)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kevin Gilbert - Thud

Kevin Gilbert - Thud
Kevin Gilbert (1966 – 1996) was an accomplished composer, singer and instrumentalist whose talents also extended to producing and engineering. He formed his own group Giraffe and later became the pivotal member of Toy Matinee along with producer Patrick Leonard. During his professional career he worked with several established pop musicians such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Sheryl Crow, Eddie Money, David Berwald, Timothy B. Schmit, Marc Bonilla Linda Perry and Keith Emerson. He was part of the songwriting collective "The Tuesday Music Club" that met at producer Bill Bottrell's studio in Pasadena, California. The group would get together, drink beer, jam, and write songs. Crow became part of the Club and, within a few months, her debut album, released in 1993, was crafted around the songs and spirit of the collective. Gilbert co-wrote many of the songs on that album, including 1995 Grammy Record of the Year "All I Wanna Do". Then in March 1995 Kevin Gilbert released his first solo album. Thud is a troubled masterpiece simultaneously angry and outraged and full of the beauty and regret of this world. It's a work of pure art forged through bleak turmoil. It's the sound of someone sinking into a pit of despair and yet creating a timeless work of heart-rending beauty in the process. Talent, brilliance and raw emotion bring this production to life. Complex lyrics, biting commentary, insightful and heartfelt observations about relationships, human nature, politics, social concepts and commentary are mixed with thoughtful melody arrangements and instrumentation in a variety of musical styles, dry, witty, and emotional vocal performances all immaculately produced and beautifully recorded and mixed. It's pop rock that seemed unfortunately doomed to semi-obscurity from the start, too cerebral and literate to be radio-friendly, too downbeat to be catchy and too skewed and offbeat to be mainstream. Gilbert's real power lies in his ability to make you look at yourself and realize that you could be working a little bit harder at making yourself a better person without being moralized by him. Thud touches on some varied themes and thoughts universal to all of us, wrapped in wonderfully inspired simple and profound lyrics and still manages to make it all beautifully accessible without putting off those folks who're just looking for a memorable tune. And that just might prove to have been Gilbert's biggest talent of all. This album works on so many levels whether you want something to weird you out, make you laugh, make you think, make you dance, make your thoughts drift into space or give you some hope. The songs leave you in emotional shambles. Gilbert alternates between black humor, sarcasm and heartfelt honesty, delivered with conviction. "Goodness Gracious" and "Waiting" spit pure venom at our society while "All Fall Down" looks at it with more of a fatal resignation. "Tea for One" and "Tears of Audrey" are personal laments as simply honest and sadly beautiful as you're ever likely to hear. And still, after it all, there's "Song for a Dead Friend", which leaves the listener with the most haunting impression once the CD fades into silence. Kevin Gilbert is no longer with us. He died a death probably not fitting for someone who seemed to be such a broad and compassionate soul. He died on the verge of immense success two years after the release of Thud. His death makes several moments on Thud rather eerie but after listening to Thud you'll find yourself a little richer. Some distributions of the album were also co-packaged with a bonus CD including Gilbert’s cover of Led Zepelin's "Kashmir" rockingly reworked with Indian percussion, plus alternate versions of “Goodness Gracious”, "Waiting" and "Joytown”. Personnel are: Kevin Gilbert on vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and cello, Bill Bottrell on backing vocals, guitar, pedal steel guitar and engineering, Brian MacLeod on drums, percussion, Dan Schwartz on bass, Robert Ferris on backing vocals and Skip Waring, Toby Holmes, Jay Mueller and Bruce Friedman as the brass section. Thud was released by PRA [Patrick Rains & Associates] Records, an independent record label owned by Patrick Rains that has released records by artists such as Marcus Miller, John Waite, Charm Farm, Kevin Gilbert, Tim Pierce, and The Big Geraniums. Patrick Rains & Associates is also a music management company that manages the careers of David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Jonatha Brooke, Tower of Power, The Crusaders and Randy Crawford. This posting was created with the help of some Amazon reviewers, so thanks to wadrad, Reymond Peck and spiral mind.
Track Listing:
1. When You Give Your Love to Me
2. Goodness Gracious
3. Joytown
4. Waiting
5. Tea for One
6. Shadow Self
7. The Tears of Audrey
8. Shrug (Because of Me and You)
9. All Fall Down
10. Song for a Dead Friend
Buy it at PRA Records, Amazon (not for $154 !!) or

Sunday, February 21, 2010

3rd Matinee - Meanwhile

3rd Matine - Meanwhile
After the short-lived span of the band Toy Matinee, founding members Kevin Gilbert (1966 – 1996) and Patrick Leonard were not contractually defined as owning the name “Toy Matinee”, according to Gilbert. So instead of battling it in court, neither of them used the name any longer. Leonard reformed the concept band under a similar name, Third Matinee, with former members of Toy Matinee Brian MacLeod, Tim Pierce, Guy Pratt and Marc Bonilla who had been a touring member of the group. “Meanwhile”, their only CD was released in 1994. This time singer and muti-instrumentalist Richard Page (formerly of Pages and Mr. Mister) became the successor to Kevin Gilbert from the earlier group. Leonard and Page had co-written songs that included Madonna’s hit "I'll Remember”. This wasn’t just a personnel change, since Gilbert was practically irreplaceable. Instead this was a different band, a different approach and a new musical direction. For fans of Toy Matinee this is a different project, but taken at face value it is an amazing production enriched by Page’s years of experience as probably the top background vocalist in the LA studio music scene, by his excellent writing skills and a voice, smooth as silk, yet fierce and appealing. Leonard production experience with the likes of Roger Waters also enriches the result, which is a top-notch sophisticated kind of rock/pop with great compositions, amazing vocals, incredible musicianship, odd time signatures and a bit of progressive elements. After this album the band disassembled. Leonard returned to producing and Page returned to his studio work and he later released a great solo album. Personnel are: Richard Page on vocals and guitars, Patrick Leonard on keyboards and vocals, Tim Pierce, Marc Bonilla and James Harrah on Guitars, Brian MacLeod and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Luis Conte on percussion, Guy Pratt and Jimmy Johnson on bass, Steve Porcaro (of Toto fame) on synthesizers and Julie Delgado, Dorian Holley, Jerry Jordan, Nick Laird-Clowes and Valerie Pinkston-Mayo on background vocals. The cover and the artwork are the amazing work of Mark Ryden.

Track Listing:
1. I Don't Care
2. Freedom Road (sampled above)
3. Holiday for Sweet Louise
4. She Dreams
5. Ordinary Day
6. Family Tree
7. Echo Hill
8. All the Way Home
9. Silver Cage
10. Trust Somebody
11. Meanwhile
Buy at Amazon or

Friday, February 19, 2010

Toy Matinee

Toy Matinee
Toy Matinee was the brain child of the assembly of multi-talented musicians Patrick Leonard on Keyboards, the late Kevin Gilbert (1966 - 1996) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Brian MacLeod on drums, Tim Pierce on guitars, Guy Pratt on bass and producer Bill Bottrell. By the time the record was to be released, apparently Patrick Leonard who founded the group wanted control of it so by asking the rest of the band to sign under his company, he dismantled the very essence of the band he wanted to form. All that was left was this amazing record and Leonard and Gilbert legally entangled. So when the record was finally released in 1990 it mistakenly appeared as if it was the creation of Gilbert and Leonard. Leonard moved on to working with Roger Waters on his “Amused to Death” album and Gilbert was left to defend and promote this incredible creation. Amazingly Gilbert went on the road accompanied by different musicians such as Marc Bonilla and even Sheryl Crow so that he could promote the release. To date this album has become a favorite of avid record collectors and lovers of good rock and progressive music. Its mass appeal consists on great compositions, amazing vocals, incredible musicianship and a bit of Americana. The re-released version of this CD includes several unreleased material such as the song “Blank Page” and early versions of “Last Plane Out”, “Things She Said” and “There Was a Little Boy”.

Track Listing:
1. Last Plane Out
2. Turn It on Salvador
3. Things She Said
4. Remember My Name
5. The Toy Matinee
6. Queen of Misery
7. The Ballad of Jenny Ledge
8. There Was a Little Boy
9. We Always Come Home (sampled above)

Buy it at Amazon or

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michal Urbaniak - Serenade For The City (Serenada)

Michal Urbaniak - Serenade

Serenade by Polish violinist Michal Urbaniak was originally released in 1980. For those who loved Urbaniak’s fusion this production is actually closer to the so-called “Smooth Jazz” than anything he had done, perhaps as an inevitable influence or perhaps as an effort to jump in the wagon of that genre’s radio exposure. If taken at face value this is a very enjoyable smooth sounding Urbaniak. Traces of his fusion days remain but overall the combined driving force of his electrified violin and his wife’s, Urszula Dudziak, vocal effects has diluted itself as she only appears on a couple of tracks with uneventful results. Personnel are: Michal Urbaniak on violin and lyricon, Barry Eastmond and the late Kenny Kirkland on keyboards, Rick Galloway on percussion, Yogi Horton and Buddy Williams on drums, a young Marcus Miller on bass, Doc Powell on guitar and Urszula Dudziak on vocals and percussion on “Circular Road” (sampled below) & "Serenade for the City”. This production has been re-issued by the artist himself on his label UBX but with a different cover, some of the compositions have undergone a title change and there are 3 extra tracks not available in the original release.

Track Listing:
1. Bad Times (not found on the original release)
2. Circular Road (sampled above)
3. Nanava
4. Sometimes
5. Serenada (entitled “Serenade for the City” on the original release)
6. Mika (entitled “Samba Miko” on the original release)
7. Fall
8. Kasia (entitled “Joy” on the original release)
9. Vanessa
10. North One (not found on the original release)
11. French Kiss (not found on the original release)

Buy it at CD Baby, Amazon or

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Michal Urbaniak - Ecstasy

Ecstasy was released in 1978 on the Florida based label Marlin Records marks a strong departure by Urbaniak from the fusion genre and an incursion into R&B funk mixed with disco elements. The first striking factor of this departure is the absence of Urszula Dudziak’s daring vocal effects; the second is the immersion into songs with lyrics sang by R&B type singers. Although Urbaniak ventured this way in his “Funk Factory” release, this time the vocal compositions are much better. The album maintains its R&B funk flavor from the beginning until track #6 "A Day In The Park", which features Dudziak as the main vocalist in a sort of Flora Purim style song, then track #7 “French Kiss” is an instrumental with the alto sax as the main performer, which resembles Gato Barbieri and track #8 "Creation" (sampled below) is a slow instrumental, which could classify as the Urbaniak we were used to listen to. In spite the fact that this is not the fusion Urbaniak we expected, this is a very enjoyable album. Henry Stone Music has re-released this album, which is greatly appreciated but you should be cautioned that the packaging and the way this LP has been re-mastered is awful. The jewel case insert, the tray liner and the CD label are just printed on a home or office printer using Neato type CD labels and stickers. The CD is a CDR most likely burned on a computer with probably the wrong sample rate. This is really unacceptable for a company that wants to be in the record industry especially when even independent musicians can have their copies made at a reputable CD manufacturing facility such as Disc Makers, Ameridisc or any other. Even more surprising is the fact that the physical CD is not even available on Amazon or places like CD Baby but just on the Henry Stone Music webpage. Nonetheless, once you cross over such hurdles it is a pleasure to listen to this album once again. Personnel are: Michal Urbaniak on violin, lyricon, tenor sax, strings and synthesizer, the late Kenny Kirkland on keyboards and synthesizers, Pee Wee Ford and Anthony Jackson on bass, Bernard Pretty Purdie and Gary Mure on drums, Ralph MacDonald, Crusher Bennett and Arthur Jenkins on percussion, Othello on Steel drum, Zbigniew Namyslowski on alto sax, James Crab Robinson on guitar and Keith Keyboy Rose and Rickie Byars-Boger on background vocals. The main vocalists are Urszula Dudziak, Kenyatta (James Crab Robinson, Keith Keyboy Rose and Rickie Byars-Boger) and Calvin Brown. The musical arrangements are done by James Crab Robinson, Calvin Brown and Michal Urbaniak.

Track Listing:
1. Body Rub
2. Free
3. Ecstasy
4. Just A Funky Feeling
5. Want's Ta Make You Feel Good
6. A Day In The Park
7. French Kiss
8. Creation (sampled here)
Buy it at Henry Stone Music or