MP3 Jim Babjak´s Buzzed Meg - The Music from Jim Babjak´s Buzzed Meg Part 1
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16 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Classic Rock, ROCK: 60's Rock
If you're a Smithereens fan, you already know that every effort put forth by Jim Babjak has been worth the wait, and this album is no exception. In fact, considering his talents as a guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, and bandleader - not to mention a wealth of material! - that sentiment may be more the case with this album than ever.
Showcasing the many sides of Jim Babjak are fourteen tracks (plus two bonus tracks for a total of sixteen!) which together make up the moods and hooks a plenty from a man who has played a vital and influential part of the American rock scene for lo these past twenty years. For those wondering, his contributions are still going strong - in fact, stronger than ever - and a listen to this album will confirm it.
Beautifully crafted by a band both technically gifted and emotionally empowering, Jim Babjak's Buzzed Meg may indeed highlight a man, but is so much more; this group wields synergy as if a weapon.
Contributing are Kurt Reil (of New Jersey's Grip Weeds), fellow Smithereen Dennis Diken, Vince Grogan and Billy Maryniak. Songwriting collaborations (although most compositions are pure Babjak) include two tracks written with Danny Adlerman (who also appears on keyboards on several tracks) and Mike Dalton.
Without further ado, a track by track review of the songs, courtesy of the lovely and talented Karen Schell:
BLAMING IT ALL ON YOU: You may have been hearing about Jim's collaborations and performances with noted children's book author Danny Adlerman. If not, check out their CD One Size Fits All (listed under Danny Adlerman here at CD Baby) and you'll find out how rock 'n' roll children's songs are made. Danny has also written with Jim for Buzzed Meg and this is one of the first "adult" music projects Adlerman has worked on. To open the album, Jim & Danny offer up a tough, chugging mid-tempo rocker.
IT WAS A PRETTY DREAM: A song that for a time was under consideration for the Smithereens' 1999 album God Save The Smithereens. Chiming guitars and Kurt Reil's echoed, chilling vocal propel a melody that won't leave your head for days. Listen for Dennis Diken's driving beat and crashing cymbals that kick the song into high gear on the last verse. If I had to pick a personal favorite from this collection of songs, this is it.
CORNER OF THE WORLD: Another "adult" collaboration with Danny Adlerman, who wrote most of the lyrics. It's a gorgeous ballad with a soft and surprisingly effective vocal from Jim Babjak himself. Jim contributed the ethereal "Could she be strange" line, inspired by a viewing of the film American Beauty. At absolutely no extra charge, you get two versions of this song, first featuring the full band, then near the end of the disc, a more stripped down acoustic mix. I like 'em both, personally.
YOU'RE SO COOL: A.K.A. "Having A Rave Up With Jim Babjak's Buzzed Meg." No profound lyrical statements, in fact, these don't mean a thing. As Jim puts it, "wild drums and power chords", an excuse to turn up the amps and bash through a Live At Leeds-style rocker. Crank it!
LOST IN LOVE: Yeah baby, yeah! This track swings like Frankie at the Sands. Reminiscent of Burt Bacharach, or those old cool and romantic Dusty Springfield or Gene Pitney 45's. You may be lost in love yourself after a single listen, but the band certainly knows where they are in one of the best rock ballads since Nazareth's "Love Hurts".
LOVE IS GONE: Many fans rate the A Date With The Smithereens version of this Babjak classic as one of their favorites, and certainly one of Jim's best known and loved songs. Written in the wake of the Rodney King beating, trial and subsequent Los Angeles riots of the early 90's, its message has become more potent as time goes by. This version, recorded a year and a half before the Smithereens got to it, and featuring only Jim and Dennis Diken, is the original demo version of the song. You'll notice a few minor changes in the structure of the song, but the basic blueprint is already there at this early stage. Jim's gentle lead vocal, and the aching, sad background singing changes the song from the angry street fighting rage of the Smithereens' version, to that of a lonely, resigned soul that has just given up hope.
HOW MANY DEAD?: Nearly part 2 of "Love Is Gone." Almost a decade later and things haven't gotten all that much better, but there's a little more hope here than we heard on "Love Is Gone," and it makes sense to pair up these two songs together. Another one-time contender for God Save The Smithereens, which early on had an "end of the century/end of the world" theme until the doom and gloom concept was dropped, freeing up this song for Buzzed Meg.
HOLLYWOODLAND: A bitter look at the war between art and commerce from someone who's seen it first hand. That smiling man with the cigar in one hand, the contract in the other, and the dollar signs in his eyes might not have your best interests in mind...
LESTER SAID: You're never too sure about guys like "Lester." As long as there's something in it for him, you'll find him close by, but you know he's outta there when the money runs out and the party moves somewhere else. Give this one a listen, then try to figure out how many "Lester"s you know.
NEEDLE IN MY VEIN: Don't misunderstand the title of this one. It has nothing to do with any actual illicit substances, but instead treats love as the obsession that it is, as powerful as any addiction...listen to the words, and you'll get it. Co-written with Mike Dalton and Ed Carson, this one's the pure definition of the term "hooky pop tune." By the way, if you were expecting The Music from Jim Babjak's Buzzed Meg Part 1 to be another one of those "lead guitar player's solo albums," full of self-indulgent guitar histrionics, take note of this: here we are, ten tracks into things, and only now does Jim finally let fly with a bona-fide, patented Tex Remy growling guitar solo.
HEY, YOU'RE LOOKING GOOD: Clocking in at 30 seconds, this track makes the average 2-minute Ramones' song look like "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". This is actually a demo that Jim has used to get work scoring commercials. A bit of studio fun that was just too catchy to leave out.
THAT AIN'T ALL: At one time or another, we've all stepped back and wondered if the path we took in life was the right one. Where would I be if I'd actually gone to class in college instead of hanging out with my friends? What if I'd quit that dead-end job long ago? Should I have taken that left turn at Albuquerque? It may surprise you that the guitar player for a gold record-selling band might have some second thoughts about his choices as well. Then again, I don't think Jim Babjak ever really set out to be a "rock star" (and as Jim himself puts it, "I could've been a great bartender...Ha!"). If you've ever had that moment of self-doubt, and I'm willing to put down money that you have, then listen closely to this song. I think you'll understand where it's coming from. Yep, it's a moody one, but with a Creedence-like groove.
THE THEME FROM BUZZED MEG: Unless you were able to track down a copy of the hard to find indie compilation Attack Of The New Killer Surf Guitars a few years ago, this one will be new to you. A cool, laid back instrumental with some stinging reverb-drenched Fender work from Jim. Not Dick Dale speed by any means, but you don't have to melt picks to induce air guitar when this surf instrumental vibes.
YOU GET ME SO EXCITED: A fun four-chord rave up, that would fit well on the Nuggets box set if it hadn't been recorded in 1998! Imagine if the Who backed up Micky Dolenz on a punk version of "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," with a cheesy organ solo straight out of "96 Tears". Features some nice Yardbirds-style harmonica from the Fleshtones' Peter Zaremba. Previously available only on the now rare Buzzed Meg demo cassette, sold at gigs back in the late '90's
SOUTH OF THE SUN: You may be surprised to learn that Jim Babjak has written much of the incidental music that you hear during the CBS daytime drama The Guiding Light. Surprising, but absolutely true. If you watch the show, perhaps you'll recognize this laid-back, romantic instrumental, co-written with Mike Dalton, and featuring some tasteful jazzy guitar, a totally different side of Jim Babjak than we've ever heard before. The song is a fine way to end the album. Inspired by a lazy trip to the beach, this is where you go to pour the sand out of your sneakers and watch the sun set.
And this is just the beginning. Jim is planning two further volumes of Buzzed Meg music, covering his works from the past 14 years. Once all that's out of his system, he plans to start work on, as he puts it, the first "real album" from Buzzed Meg.
Don't deny yourself. Jimmy has been here all along. The album is here now.
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