My Dad Is Dead
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

The Taller You Are, 7.5/10
Shine, 6/10 (EP)
Chopping Down The Family Tree, 6/10
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind, 6/10
For Richer For Poorer, 6.5/10
Everyone Wants The Honey , 5/10
The Engine Of Commerce (2003), 5/10
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Mark Edwards is a singer-songwriter from Cleveland (Ohio), whose introverted and highly personal confessions display an adult tone that is unusual in rock music.

Three albums, My Dad Is Dead (St Valentine, 1986), Peace Love And Murder (Birth, 1987) and Let's Skip The Details (Homestead, 1988), refined his formula: depressed (if not suicidal) lyrics, classic (but not exuberant) melodies, sparse (and sometimes nightmarish) accompaniment.

Mark Edwards e` un cantautore introverso e intimista di Cleveland che sciorina le sue confessioni con uno stile fin troppo adulto. My Dad Is Dead (St Valentine, 1986), Peace Love And Murder (Birth, 1987) and Let's Skip The Details (Homestead, 1988) misero poco alla volta a punto la formula: testi depressi se non da suicidio, melodie classiche senza impennate, accompagnamento scarno spesso da incubo.
The Taller You Are (Homestead, 1989) marks a quantum leap forward, both philosophical and artistic. On one hand, the lyrics stop analyzing in detail his personal disadventures, and begin to reflect on the human condition at large. On the other hand, the instruments charge with greater awareness of musical genres.
The album's instrumental ouverture, For Lack of a Better Word, is a masterpiece of new-wave tension that bridges Cure and Feelies, propelled by a middle-eastern guitar phrase and tribal drumming. The trancey, soaring, raga-like chorus climbs an imaginary ladder to nirvana with geometric precision and increasing fervor. The epic World on a String, one of the numerous propulsive numbers, the rhythmic emphasis of early Talking Heads and a deeply emotional refrain that harks back to the generational anthems of the Animals.
To various degrees, the other songs elaborate on this theme, frequently adding an eastern-spiritual element to the equation. The six-minute The Big Picture unleashes a frantic, whirling, gypsy-like dance, while the voice begins spinning its dejected tales in the neutral tone of Brian Eno (another recurring motif of the album).
The wedding of power-rock riffs and forceful singing is particularly effective on Too Far Gone songs that re-invent the science of neurosis in music first attempted by Neil Young. The tortured litany of What Can I Do borders on the Television's neural disorders, and Nothing Special has the quietly suicidal quality of Edwards' early works (but enhanced by a serene, flamenco-like guitar prayer).
The threatening, syncopated riff and rhythm of The Only One, worthy of a Sioux war dance, punctuates the psychological tension of the tale with the mastery of a Hollywood soundtrack.
In a roaring display of eclectism, Edwards dares to flirt with disco-music (Planes Crashing) and limping blues-rock (Can't Get Started), and seals the album with an exotic-surf instrumental, So Much to Lose, that links back to the beginning.
Most songs are about five-minute long, the format of mature story-tellers who do not need be confined to the classic song format anymore.
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The Taller You Are (Homestead, 1989) compie un balzo filosofico e artistico. Da un lato le liriche smettono di osservare con la lente le sue vicende personali e cominciano a riflettere sulla condizione umana in genere; dall'altro gli strumenti investono con maggiore consapevolezza dei generi musicali, sublimandosi nell'incantevole raga di Nothing Is Special.
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Il doppio EP Shine (Scat, 1990), ristampato come Shine(r) (Emperor Jones, 1996) con alcuni inediti dello stesso periodo per un totale di venti canzoni, ripropone brani dei dischi precedenti e qualche rarita`.

La progressione verso un sound meno tetro e piu' accessibile continua con Chopping Down The Family Tree (Scat, 1991), in particolare con Without A Doubt e la title-track, ma anche con qualche numero aggressivo (Deliver Me Home e Journey).

Out Of Sight Out Of Mind (Scat, 1993) sembra davvero il disco di un classico trio di musicisti rock, e Edwards sciorina perle come She's In Love e la dolce You Are The One (forse la sua miglior canzone di sempre), nonche' due strumentali trascinanti come Untitled e Racing Heart, Le liriche sono un po' meno tristi del solito, anche se si aggirano sempre nei meandri di una psiche estramamente fragile che aspetta soltanto di essere giustiziata dalla vita.

For Richer For Poorer (Trance Syndicate, 1995), con l'accompagnamento ormai affiatato di Matt Swanson (basso) e Scott Pickering (batteria, ex Prisonshake), cerca forse con troppa insistenza il ritornello e la cadenza pop (Evolution e Something More finiscono per risultare piu' che altro petulanti), ma l'andamento marziale e un po' giapponese di Coat Of Armor, la grinta effervescente e quasi boogie di Play The Game, e ancor piu' l'incalzante e bellicosa danza pellerossa di Nasty Little Habit, coniano uno stile che rinnova i fasti del romanticismo esistenziale di Warren Zevon; mentre il balletto sincopato di Crazy World e quel mezzo raga di Recharge propongono formati ancor piu' originali.

Con Everyone Wants The Honey But Not The Sting (Emperor Jones, 1997) Mark Edwards continua la parabola verso un sound sempre piu` corposo, roccioso, assordante e commerciale. Abbandonato il tetro e spartano stile di un tempo, Edwards veleggia verso un cantautorato rock alla Warren Zevon o persino Bruce Springsteen. Al suo fianco e` rimasto Matt Swanson (basso) e si e` aggiunto Shayne Ivy alla batteria.
Il boogie sudista di Don't Look Now e il rock and roll di Statistician's Day Off rappresentano l'uomo enfatico e concitato di oggi. Tracce di power-pop in Deer On The Highway, tracce di garage-rock in Lesson #1, ma nulla di concreto. Forse la canzone migliore e` la conclusiva A Million Questions, sette minuti al limite del Neil Young piu` elettrico. L'ostinata ricerca del ritornello orecchiabile (che e` quasi un controsenso per uno come lui) nuoce gravemente all'economia del sound. Dell'involuta poesia di un tempo sono rimasti solamenti i testi, che pero` suonano un po' fuori posto dentro strutture cosi` violentemente rock.

Infected with the disease of the 1980s revival, on The Engine Of Commerce (Vital Cog, 2003) Mark Edwards misses the point of his own songs (such as All We Want) and deforms them like plastic toys.

A Divided House (Unhinged, 2005), featuring again Prisonshake's rhythm section of Scott Pickering and Chris Burgess, is verbose and intellectual as usual, capturing the imagination with an allegorical series of songs but then wasting the opportunity with half-baked and largely unbalanced melodies. Edwards has remained a writer who does not write but sings. He's like a sailor who does not sail but hikes.

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