Wild Seeds
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Brave Clean + Reverent (1986), 7/10
Mud, Lies + Shame (1988), 6/10
Michael Hall: Quarter To Three , 5/10
Michael Hall: Love Is Murder , 6/10
Setters , 5/10
Michael Hall: Adequate Desire , 5/10
Michael Hall: Frank Slade's 29th Dream , 6/10
Michael Hall: Day , 6/10
Michael Hall: Dead by Dinner , 6/10
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Michael Hall, animatore della scena di Austin, ha scritto con i Wild Seeds pagine intense, all'incrocio fra Springsteen e Petty, all'insegna di un qualunquismo accorato, di uno sbandamento esistenziale mai dichiarato ma neppure mai risolto.

Brave Clean + Reverent (Jungle, 1986) e` un piccolo gioiello di "Sixties revival", arrangiato in maniera tanto modesta quanto efficace, nostalgico ma non troppo. Sharlene e` il numero migliore, quello in cui i trucchi del mestiere e la passionalita` del suo canto si fondono meglio; ma da li` in poi e` un otto volante di citazioni impeccabili: il folkrock di Big Mimosa Sky (con dovizia di jingle jangle e coretti), lo strumentale surf Hurricane Girls, il soul di I Work Hard (sassofono danzante, passo gospel-jazz), e su tutto il rockabilly A Girl Can Tell (canto singhiozzante e riff di hardrock). L'enfasi e` quella del "Boss" (soprattutto nelle ballate piu` "rockeggianti" come Love Will Make You Weak), ma la verve dell'interpretazione sa spesso di Fleshtones. I testi fanno storia: nella piu` dolente del lotto, Shake This World, Hall confessa "I did shake this world like a man shakes a tree, but the leaves came tumbling down and buried me".

Debi Came Back e I Can't Rock You All Night Long sono i classici di Mud, Lies + Shame (1988).

Quarter To Three (Record Collect, 1990), prima opera solista di Hall, delude le attese non tanto per la mancanza di canzoni (anzi: Congratulations e Roll Around Heaven This Way sono all'altezza del suo passato), ma per l'assenza di arrangiamenti elettrici.

Hall rimane comunque uno dei grandi lirici rock degli anni '80 e uno dei suoi autentici ribelli: Let's Take Some Drugs And Drive Around recita uno dei suoi inni.

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Michael Hall's solo career, that started with the mostly acoustic and spare Quarter To Three (Record Collect, 1990) and rowdy anthems like Congratulations and Roll Around Heaven This Way, peaked with Love Is Murder (Safe House, 1992), equally divided between philosophical meditations (Love Is Murder) and blasphemous sermons (Let's Take Some Drugs And Drive Around).

Hall then started the Setters (Watermelon, 1993), a supergroup with Alejandro Escovedo and Walter Salas-Humara of Silos. A live 1991 performance of the trio will be released as Dark Ballad Trash (1995). Hall's Don't Love Me Wisely and River of Love are not among his most daring compositions.

Adequate Desire (Dejadisc, 1994) marks a turn towards a senile, romantic form of ballad (Under The Rainbow With You, Merry Christmas from Mars), although his songwriting remains impeccable.

The EP Frank Slade's 29th Dream (Dejadisc, 1995) is an experimental work that came out of the blue: the title-track is a 38-minute concerto for small chamber ensemble, sort of Proust put to the music of the Velvet Underground (the death dream of a soldier).

Day (Dejadisc, 1996) is a concept album, carefully arranged with trumpet, keyboards, and violin (Susan Voelz), and featuring members of Poi Dog Pondering and Mekons. The song cycle is symmetrical, starting with a bleak portrait of Los Angeles and ending with an apocalyptic portrait of Las Vegas, sandwiching everything else between two dejected, horror stories like Their First Murder and Ghosts. The arrangements are funereal at best.

Back again in Austin after years of travel around the world, Michael Hall formed the Woodpeckers with veterans of the Texas music scene and released Dead by Dinner (Blue Rose, 2000), whose first song, I Can't Believe You Touched Him sounds like vintage Wild Seeds. The 10-minute I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground is worthy of Neil Young at his best, while In The Crypt With Eleanor, If You Knew How Much I Wanted You and No One Can Tell You When It's Time To Leave are delicate vignettes that evoke a neurotic version Leonard Cohen.

In The Crypt With Eleanor
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