DAVID FITZPATRICK GREETS US WITH A WHIRLWIND THAT IS PARACHUTES IN HURRICANES

David Fitzpatrick puts his name on the line for Parachutes And Hurricanes. Photo courtesy the internet

I love Gary Tanin. I really do. He’s been a fan of this blog way back before it was this blog. The history between us goes back to when I was writing for Princeton Record Exchange. I don’t recall what review I wrote that garnered his attention there, but he came along when I decided to blow off the other two stores I was writing for and forge out on my own.

For that I will always be grateful. But I fear this is where all good things must end.

All throughout this blog’s history, I have made every effort to look for the unusual, the out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten path stuff. Having first been born and raised in the NJ/NY area, I was influenced by that fringe that was all around then. Free radios in cars blasted new and unusual stuff with the birth of FM radio. WPLJ, so on etc. So while I was getting the fresh info and news and new music, my family was imploding and my mother had to take me away from all that culture…

…to be a farm-boy in Scranton.

I remember I was getting my transcript signed by my art teacher who asked where I was moving to.  I said Scranton PA. He said basically what I mentioned above. Being a farm-boy. At first it didn’t seem so. When I started having to go to “fairs”, I got the see that deep country land was not a far drive away.

The strongest FM station in the area played classical music. I would actually tune in on headphones when I was nearing sleep. The classical music soothed a newly alienated 11/12 year old. Being ‘different’ (for you new comers, I was born with a cleft lip and palate), there was no tolerance back then. I was ridiculed mercilessly and teachers, coaches, all heard it and did nothing. If I went to anyone they would tell me to buck up and deal with the bullies.

I have no empathy for today’s coddled children…

But one day, this station woke up and started playing MOR music!! The usual stuff of the era, but when I tuned in to get my nightly sedative I was met with the very intro to Alan Parson’s I Robot! What a way to get initiated into Parson’s music. I had always had my prog with ELP and he who will not be named’s Utopia, etc. So when something was, well, different, I went right there. But not everything was proggy and different. There were (to me) run off the mill artists jumbled in-between the tasty prog nuggets. Mind you, they weren’t exactly playing the uber prog stuff like ELP’s “Pictures At An Exhibition”, covering Modest Mussorgsky’s version. It was all “From The Beginning” “Lucky Man” and other Greg Lake friendly songs. He who shall not be named had a 20-plus minute tune called “The Ikon” that was prog as hell. What did the locals wanna hear? “Hello It’s Me”.

I had to come to the reality I was surrounded by philistines. They couldn’t get enough of the Bob Segers and the Bruce Springsteens the radio could offer. Different boy went, well, a different way.

I became ravenous for new, interesting and DIFFERENT music. Then I made the mistake of learning instruments to play and join a band. Never do that again. I picked up bass because no one else did. In this narrow-minded farm town, I was SO quickly classified as a bass player and a bass player only, these local jackasses couldn’t wrap their stupid heads around the fact that I was a drummer (technically an oboist) first! Joining a band in the 80’s as a guitarist meant I was only a guitarist and could not be taken seriously as capable of playing any instrument other than guitar.

I hate living here. Hearing classic rock doesn’t fill me with happy memories, especially all the crap I had to play. One more “Rocky Mount Way” and I would be ready for a suite at the Hotel Silly.

Now normally I don’t read any pre-press about something I am going to review. Tanin always includes press clippings when he sends me something, but the only one I ever read was about Tanin’s own project from his youth, that being the Otto And The Elevators album he put out many moons ago. But since I did reject one of Tanin’s submissions as I did not see eye to eye with the artist on certain social issues, I felt it best to bypass that review. I find myself dealing with the same dilemma here. So far, I have had no interactions with Fitzpatrick through Facebook or other social media. So I broke one of my other rules, that being that I did read the press for this album.

After reading the press and seeing multiple times that someone compared Firtzpatrick to John COUGAR Mellencamp or James Hetfield of Metallica has further raised alarms. If this album comes across like a bad Sirius Radio Classic Rock channel, this is gonna be brutal. Let’s let the disc decide if this will be my last review for Tanin!

I’ll always have Sam Llanas…

The disc starts off sorta esoteric (read: not radio-friendly) with isolated vocals and delay open up “Lost On The Same Street”. After a lovely little intro lead by electric piano, the first verse maintains that echo to the bridge chorus of the title vocal. By the second verse we are in full drone guitar mode with a very in-the-background rhythm section. Tight though, slipping seamlessly to a break about drumming for life, with a bright rejoinder chord, into a stunted third verse. Around now the drone guitar is down at Miracle Legion (read: acceptable) back into a ‘drum’ bridge with new vocals, about drinking up some courage.

Solo time, only not with guitar, with swirling synth-type sounds. Reminds me of stuff I did on my early stuff. That drowns the track down to a stop and we are back to full out drone ad-lib vocal. They build on the ‘everybody’ lyric and end with that nice keyboard and vocal hold delay.

Not about to be played on ROCK 107!!!

A quick, down tempo drum intro brings the song order dynamic WAY down, does so on purpose (or at least you would think with a title like “Long Way Down”) and we quickly find ourselves in a down tempo ballad scenario. Okay, not the usual, I’m listening…

An organ tears the hell out of the intro. Guitar notes dance in and about those organ notes, until the vocal comes in way hot! This is surprising as most of this album (from what I heard in pre-listens) was clean enough to eat off of, but every time I put this disc in to warm it up (as is my process), that opening vocal line just disturbs me.

They don’t call me a music snob for nothing…

So I get the Mellencamp/Hetfield/Buckley comparison. When Fitzpatrick hits the lowest note in the line ‘It’s a long way down from here’ you can tell he has that smoky quality to his voice. I find that really sexy… in a woman’s voice. Fitzpatrick? More of that Seger-style I have nothing for.

Despite the organ player really making the disc price worthwhile, the rhythm track is tight, patient, and again, a little buried. After reversing the perspective in the lyric (scared faces looking UP at the long way down origin point), we get another organ guitar duel. You know, the shit I miss the hell out of during the four man Utopia days with Roger Powell solo dueling with he who shall not be named. And a crisp-as-a-new-currency-bill acoustic guitar rings along to chine in occasionally with the organ and guitar, but to also hold everything to the rhythm track.

I see what Fitzpatrick & Co. did there…

The organ holds for the last verse where Fitzpatrick is in full Mellencamp Mode. We got into another chorus of ‘long way down’ with a compliment of backing vocals building into another solo battle with some vocal-adlibs buried in the mix until a new break is introduced with the lyric ‘All I see is stolen from me’. We repeat the chorus into another solo break (quick) into a new part, the ‘really feel’ part repeats to an organ flourish end.

Four peppy, drum-lead ‘la’ lyric lines kick off “Half A Mile”. Vocal and instrument call and return with bass flourishes support the first verse. The chorus is very upbeat. But I keep hearing something, it starts around that last song, and it is VERY prominent in this song. While the styles I am about to compare are like comparing apples to dump trucks, BUT, I hear a lot of Sam Llanas in this stuff.

MY GAWD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?!

We go into verse two with a cameo guide of the sax. This verse is SO accompanied by keyboards, you kind of get lost. In that spirit of honesty, the lyrics aren’t exactly of the caliber of a Mark Mulcahy, so there are no subtle, you-have-to-think-more-than-listen references. The lyrics is what they is.

The next chorus is bigger, poppier until the bridge, where they bring it down with some sax on top of a tenuous rhythm track that devolves to a piano build. Once that build starts with the ‘no I won’t’ lyric, the sax is brought out wholesale! Forming a very tight section with itself. Back to another chorus that repeats with some piano flourishes among the vocal adlib out. The chorus grows until a beginning break, which is far more outrageous to a hold end.

A pensive guitar and shimmering organ begin “How I Wish”, when, once the vocal begins the organ lays back to let the pensive guitar support the vocal. Honestly, I hear half the vocal wanting to be Bowie, half wanting to be Lou Reed. If Fitzpatrick isn’t gonna lean on John Cougar Mellenhead style vocals, this might not be so bad…

This verse has just ground down to that guitar, organ and some piano and the lonesome vocal. With the organ’s help, the track kicks back in with some ill-thought of piano. Another verse is presented quite tight. This time we go through the ’empty space’ break and the full band is left in. Again, some out of the box thinking as most would fly the breakdown chorus toward the end to strive to some sort of end. A super slick guitar and backing vocals compete with a pounding piano.

A new section is introduced. Maybe this is why Tanin sent this to me. it seems to keep throwing me curves where I don’t expect them. Perhaps a lot of the people comparing Fitzpatrick to Mellencougar and Hetfield are basing it on the voice. Because the arrangements are no where near commercial-ready. The break they go into, well, it has familiarity to it. Sounds like it could have fit into one of the songs on the Tubes Now album. From there we go into yet another guitar break, that leads to a Welnickian piano part but breaks it down to your run of the mill blues section.

In fact, it breaks down for the next verse to almost lounge lizard proportions. In fact, I thought the track ended on the word ‘real’. They came back to the Welnickian part with full-blown backing vocals. This time the piano and organ compete for attention. A chorus structure continues the solos and adlibs to the hold ending where (again) the organ takes the hold note end.

OK so, the arrangements are different, but, I am starting to see little patterns or, formulations.

A pastoral sounding piano intros “All In Tonight”, even with some dissonant notes to keep it interesting. NOTE: When listening to this through headphones, if your headphones have an adjustment for volume on the left and right cups of the headphones, a good tip is to turn the volume controls just a touch down from where you normally keep them. You see, as in the case of this song, when Fitzpatrick’s vocal starts, you damn near jump out of your seat because the vocal is mastered so damn high (I nearly shit myself!).

The rhythm track sneaks in behind the wall of vocal. The bridge adds a chorused guitar, but goes into full band for the next verse. The vocal mixes better at this point. The lyrics are more worldly, as our protagonist strives to take on all comers and appreciate to the fullest come what may.

AM I RIGHT? OR AM I WRONG?

You see how easy it is to toss up some clichés…

The chorus reaffirms that the protagonist is going full speed ahead this evening. They break down for a nice subtle guitar break. Things simmer down nicely only to have things fractured by a vocal way too far up in the mix. For the second break section, a slight drum intro hosts a full orchestration behind it. Now if the vocal were mixed for these sections, OK. Things build up even further the second time the chorus repeats.

Yet another break down builds up a verse structure that is more accent based than the rhythm section had been previously. The first line sparse, the next lines orchestrated. Building, ever building, adding string and keyboard hits, building always building. Until the buzzsaw guitar meanders away.

At least it didn’t end with an organ hold.

This is one of those songs, a strong label would hack to bits to get it under 3 minutes fifty seconds to put on air. They call those radio edits. Radio edits suck donkey dick.

Guitar notes and piano fade up to welcome “Your Ghost” about phantom sensations. After some creepy haunted lyrics, a piano takes us right into a fully formed rhythm track. A slightly drier lead vocal mixes well with the boosted drums. This has everything radio wants. Hooks, melodies, clean music, for the most part wholesome lyrics. This song could very well be an A&R man’s wet dream.

Verse two is again fuller with more keyboards added. The bridge adds backing vocals that rejoin to a verse structure. But a verse does not follow. A break with thundering drums to a cymbal crescendo and the long awaited guitar solo (it’s about time for one on a ‘rock’ record). It intersects with the next bridge, but this bridge leads back to the verse structure that repeats ‘off my back’. It breaks to a guitar, vocals and some hold notes with flourishes interspersed to a crescendo build of the entire track. Vocal ad libs and backing vocals are the star of the outro.

Hey! They found the main output fader for a fade-down!

Not to be confused with Cyndi Lauper’s “Money Changes Everything”, we have “Money Isn’t Everything”. Yo Dave, you wanna tell that to my bankruptcy attorney?

One thing that separates Fitzpatrick from Melloncamp is, Mellonstand never started a song out with a fade-in a cappella. Score one for the home team with this next bad-day-for-Lovin’-Spoonful-like “So Happy With You”. But after that, right down to the vibrato in his voice on the line ‘the heart is cold’ STINKS of a “Hurt So Good” rehash. In fact oh holy fuck I am having a career flashback to playing that song (‘Hurts So Good”) in a cover band.

The rest of this review will have to wait while I go get ripped off my face trying to forget the wretched way the drummer sang the lead vocal. Thankfully, I retain my white Rastafarian status.

In my freshly altered state, this just reeks of Mellencamp. I am not big on tribute bands (unless they can produce original artist replacements i.e. Steve Perry of Journey begat Arnel Pineda, and as Judas Priest’s Rob Halford begat Tim “Ripper” Owens, etc. et al, and so on), I see them as a great commercial success, and they are HIGHLY popular (look up Start Making Sense, Musical Box, Celebrating David Bowie, the last one featuring good old Adrian Belew!), I just couldn’t see myself being happy churning out other people’s music on stage over and over ad nauseum.

So where is Fitzpatrick coming from? If you say Milwaukee I will smack you!!

This puts the inverse to Lauper’s title view. More like the material things can’t buy the simple things.

The next verse is kinda annoying with the backing vocals. Strong horn parts on those chorus bridges. We repeat the chorus with piano and backing vocals rising with the horns to bring in a dirty Telecaster solo. The horns help out the second half of the solo.

Everything but the vocals quiet down for a verse repeat but the chorus shows little restraint. It occurs to me, these inflated arrangements would be the only thing making these songs not radio ready. I know internet radio has different parameters, but this fade out is so talk-over-bed-ready it screams as though someone should be saying (in the smarmiest voice possible) Hey, this is so and so on suck and fuck internet radio and that was…

The whole song was hushed, drummed with brushes, jazz-tinged, and subdued as an oblique strategy. Gee, I wonder what track Eliot plays on… The organ might have taken a breather as opposed to trying to take the lead on this one. They go into a stronger beat for a break, and then horns lead into a more brisk verse. A descend into the catch chorus, leads to a hold organ note end. Guess there must have been a scheduling conflict with Flo and Eddie. We’ll just call this one adult contemporary…

Now if there were anything super out of the ordinary with the music, I would tell you. Outside of wayward mixes here or there, the musicianship is top notch (OR Tanin and Ric Propst are master punch-in operators, for you greenies out there, if you screw up a take, you can record over it or “punch-in”). I have enjoyed the left field arrangements, they are top notch as well. I am just not one for the “blue collar sound”. I love all the elements, but the product as a whole isn’t for me. How the hell does that equate?

THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL HOUSE, THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTFUL WIFE.

You gotta wonder how they can transition from that saccharine masterpiece into a song called “Bed Of Roses”? I did just take my Metformin. It all starts with a transistor-distorted guitar then another guitar comes in with the over-inflated vocal (ok at this point it has to a gimmick for Fitzpatrick: He wants every first line to jump out at you and make pooh shoot out). He calls upon Lou Reed again. The finger snaps make it very Velvet Underground. The organ takes that away immediately.

It mutates into a tight soul ballad with raging organ. Have I said that enough yet? You let me know when…

But when you put references to drinking in soul or blues ballads, you drive up the number of alcohol related I’M SORRY I COULDN’T CONTINUE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!!!! It’s just not the sort of lyric I usually deal with.

Lines like “Pyramids spheres and obelisks are the patterns of all creation, but the red polygon’s only desire, is to get to the blue triangle”… He who will not be named

Yeah, Fitzpatrick emotes, I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, I think he has a pop formula in him somewhere. I even like the string arrangement that brings in the full on rhythm track. An arpeggiated guitar tries to intervene in the string ascends.

It breaks down to a hold note into a finger snap break into a hold on the last ‘Will it ever change’. That was quick. He packs a lot into radio-friendly time, I gotta give the guy. So he has the capability to fit songs into either online or (what’s left of) terrestrial radio.

Fitzpatrick again features the vocal starting “If I Could” off with a stone cold a cappella into a 60’s AM radio-style (replete with double note hand claps) top 40 style tune. Jangly rhythm guitar guides the track into the second verse with uber backing vocals (think Beach Boys vocals overdubbed on top of Beatles vocals with the Wrecking Crew on instruments). They break down to something no less stylin’. The double tom hits are very surf but lo and behold the solo starts with a good old surf slide up and down the neck into a solo.

Dick Dale would be proud.

The vocals are again, MellonBank-ish.

In the middle of the “If I could” chorus, they throw a Beatle’s style ending in as a break! See, there ARE intelligent, thought-out breaks hidden in the 70’s/80’s FM revision. They do it again then gently end the track. Complete with ride cymbal bell.

Unhurried and contemplative piano start out “Done To Me”. Vocals are brought in ahead of the lead vocal. Now for a change, this feels very Meatloaf, just without the 300lb linebacker on vocals. E-street? Utopia? Keys flesh out the sparse track, around the bridge repeat, verse two remains sparse. If this is Fitzpatrick‘s natural voice, he should stay in this range. He has a nice tone when he isn’t trying to be someone he is not.

The next verse has a stronger mix, and even yields us the title lyric. Still, Fitzpatrick’s voice has the earthy quality it should have had all along. The bridge repeat features minor touches throughout, some mandolin sounding, strings, etc. The song shows no sign of cliché building to thunderous drums to ring out the album. They are staying true to the dynamic and tone of the song and lyric. A church sounding organ is added toward the third verse. I think it’s the third verse. This track is slow, sparse and goes back deceptively fast.

Even heard some David Sylvian style vibrato there! But that anticipated dynamic never comes as Fitzpatrick coldly says the line ‘You will never be free’ and with a couple of piano measures, we’re done.

No where in the press did it make the comparisons I heard. No one heard what I heard. That’s usually the case. And while I might have some strong criticisms, I am not as down on this disc as the press led me to believe.

If anyone comments about fake news I will sell their email address to bestproxies.com and flood your inbox with spam. Like the emails my spam folder here always gets…

This is not something I would have thought about keeping in my library (I keep the discs I get from Tanin and the various suppliers unless I get crap like Florence And The Machine), but I hear many mutual influences and even nods to crap I tried in my own recordings. And the music IS really good.

There are a myriad of musicians on this disc. Fitzpatrick and Tanin are all over this disc (naturally), with Tanin contributing some of the arrangements as well as piano and keyboards in addition to co-writing some of the cuts. Other keyboards are handled by Jack Spann and Tom Buckley. Bass by Ethan Bender and Paul Noesky. Guitars by Gerry Ochoa and a special appearance by jazz guitarist Legend Dick Eliot. Drums by Dave Schoepke, Michael Koch and Craig Brog and Tenor Sax by Luke Lilla.

But here’s the crux of this whole review: This music is NOT for me. With what I said before I went into the songs in mind, I don’t regurgitate the popular view. If I don’t like it, it means the rest of you WILL! I get Tanin’s Facebook feed, and he posts all the interviews and airplay Fitzpatrick is getting in his hometown of Milwaukee WI. It is an impressive list of new and repeat rotation plays. Any local appearances should be pretty easy to replicate as most of the band on the album are members of the (go figure) Paul Shaffer I MEAN David Fitzpatrick Band. (You go to my BouleBlog Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/bouleblog/ and see the banner, Fitzpatrick is on the right and he is getting major mileage out of the Late Night TV Talk Show Musical Director look… If the photo is different, scroll down a bit to find it.)

Speaking of the David Fitzpatrick Band, they have been tearing up the cheese circuit in Wisconsin, with four albums of their own. I’m seeing gig after gig advertised, radio interview after radio interview broadcast. This album is King Shit Of Milwaukee and Fitzpatrick doesn’t give a damn!

BUY THIS DISC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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