Sunday, 4 May 2008

Album Review: Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Pwer - Pleasure Before Business

As a performing artist whose career’s spanned over quarter of a century, Dave Cloud’s probably earned the right to the title ‘Psychedelic Shaman’. With his band The Gospel Of Power, the Nashville dwelling mainstay has consistently blurted out a tirade of deranged blues stomps since the release of 1999's seminal offering Songs I Will Always Sing and, with a debut title buried in such bold intent, it’s unsurprising to find new release Pleasure Before Business embedded once again with his unflappable penchant for acid-infused bedlam.

Owing much to the unhinged surrealism of Captain Beefheart, this assortment of originally penned numbers and screwball covers is a far less accolade-garnering affair than his ragged, reverb-friendly pillars of yore. Setting the scene with ‘You Don’t Need Sex’’s driven atomic chords, the tumultuous swirl of low-mixed guitar and scrunched drums retreats in to the kind of mangled ‘70s swamp ‘n’ roll that soundtracks ‘tales from the street’ B movies and has back-catalogue pillaging vultures like David Holmes salivating at the jowls whilst hurriedly over-coming the hurdle of copyright infringement.

Unconsciously made up of two distinct parts, side A is a linear sprawl of middling bass-rattlers that injects jaywalking Hammond organs and Cloud’s, Andre 3000-esque, drawl into the voodoo-centric, pre-coital courtships of ‘Hey (You’re Beautiful)’ and ‘Orgy’ without ever managing to fully engage the senses of the listener, so predictable and basal do they become. Side B, however, finds Cloud chartering more dishevelled territories and, with it, the album transcends as an enterprising warble of writhing over-dubs and lunatic, mouth-frothing rhythms.

Often unintelligible and seemingly directionless, tracks containing the Transylvanian horror-schlock of ‘Rock Video’ and ‘50 Dollar’’s mescaline induced drone prove a refreshing, attention-bothering antidote to the token Blues-isms of the record’s opening gambits. Riddled with primitive tribalism and a diseased sense of vengeance, Cloud’s ragged snarl besieges Resnick and Levine’s ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’, skewing its bubblegum-popping playfulness into a jungle of rabid acoustic strums. Whilst his inane professions over Yvonne Elliman’s Bee Gees-drafted hit ‘If I Can’t Have You’ result in a curtain-closer so draped in frenzied, vociferous feedback it sets his place in the queue to the pantheon of deranged, psycho-babbling experimentalists inhabited by the likes of Zappa and Barrett.

A first half burdened by humdrum mediocrity may diminish the overall effect of Pleasure Before Business but, in the brawling strides of its finishing flourish, this ‘Psychedelic Shaman’ just about shows he has the talent to persevere for another 25 years.

Rating: 5/10

Out now on Fire Records

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