Paul K

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Patriots (1988), 6/10
The Big Nowhere , 6/10
The Killer in the Rain , 6/10
The Blue Sun For Elizabth , 6/10
Blues for Charlie Lucky , 6.5/10
Garden of Forking Paths , 6/10
Achilles Heel , 6/10
Love is a Gas , 6/10
A Wilderness of Mirrors , 6.5/10
Prayers: Saratoga , 6/10

Paul Kopasz (better known as Paul K, a Detroit native) had produced a number of cassettes in the late 1980s, but surfaced only with Patriots (Shrunken Stomach, 1988) and its 17-minute title-track and profound portraits like My Knife. His Weathermen became a staple of folk and blues clubs in Lexington, near Louisville (Kentucky), but the real attraction is Kopasz's songwriting, that draws inspiration from Lou Reed and Gram Parsons.

The Big Nowhere (SilenZ, 1991) is a dark and brooding work, obsessed with drugs (Kopasz was a heroin addict and spent time in jail) The sound is sparse and subdued, but Poor Man's Eyes (one of this classics), Nashville Tennessee, Robespierre and Superhighway already display his skills, while The Arson Biz and Post Office Pinup reveal a sarcastic if not humorous tone.

By comparisong, The Killer in the Rain (SilenZ, 1992), featuring the Weathermen, is a hard-rock album. Dear Dutch, The Third Day is the Worst, Highway Hero and The Killer in the Rain exude sweat and dirt, blue-collar frustration and suburban alienation.

The Blue Sun (Homestead, 1992) is an anthology of his cassette material. It includes live classics like The Grid, Amphetamines And Coffee and The Blue Sun.

Kopasz returned to the solo format for Blues for Charlie Lucky (SilenZ, 1993), possibly his masterpiece, at least as far as storytelling goes (Black and Blues , God's own singer, Nicotine Psychos Blues, and especially Radiant and White).

On the other hand, Garden of Forking Paths (Silenz, 1993) is again as raw and energetic as Killer. The Weathermen are in top form. Leave Me In Tears, Disappear, Something I Never Did Own, Stolen Gems and Stone In My Shoe are the new classics, while 7 Gates to the City presents him in the unlikely role of religious preacher.

After the cassette Corpus (Shrimper, 1995), the mini-album Coin Of The Realm (Fiasco, 1995), that contains Potter's Field, Coin Of The Realm and Pillar Of Salt, and the live album Now And At The Hour Of Our Death, Amen (Glitterhouse, 1995), Paul K and the Weathermen matured with the sober and harrowing Achilles Heel (Thirsty Ear, 1995), whose Cold Summer Nights and Roses For The Rich show Kopasz at the peak of his songwriting muse while Deportee, Add Up The Bills, When You Read This I'll Be Gone and Everything's Forgiven are all impeccable performances by one of the greatest bar-bands of the 1990s.

Kopasz aimed for the masses with Love is a Gas (Alias, 1997), his most polished and relaxed record ever (produced by Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker). Liar's Prayer, Deep Freeze, Apple in my Eye, David Ruffin's Tears, Slow It Down sound like Neil Young, Lou Reed, Jonathan Richman and many others, but not like Paul K and the Weathermen. Love is a Gas and Everything That Glitters retain his original style, though.

A Wilderness of Mirrors (Alias, 1998) is not only a concept album but also a tour de force, as Paul K pens 17 songs and uses the Book of Job as a reference. The biblical endeavour yields some of his most accomplished blues tracks (Wilderness of Mirrors, Imperial Statues, Big Bad City, Crash, The Bottle and the Cork) although this is a completely new artist.

Paul K then joined the Prayers of drummer Tim Welch that released Saratoga (Alias, 1999), an eclectic stew of folk, rhythm and blues, gospel, soul, etc that marked a return of sorts to his roots.

His mission as a literate protest poet of the working class continued with Terminal Hotel (2001) and Maintain Radio Silence (2007).

Four career retrospective double-CDs were released: Stolen Gems (2003), Res Ipsa Loquitor (2019), Curriculum Vitae (2020) and Sottovoce (2020). The last three were curated by himself while he was terminally ill.

Paul K died in 2020 at the age of 57.

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