As people buy fewer and fewer CDs, and the “art of music” quietly and quickly fades into obscurity, compilation CDs become more scarce – less likely to achieve their purpose, which is usually to raise money for some cause. But for Union Cab, the Review Visionaries series is purely an opportunity to celebrate their diverse membership, a large portion of which have been, or are still, musicians. Forget marketing – these folks sell these things right out of the cabs.
There is a lot of variation in the music to celebrate on Rearview Visionaries Vol. 2.0. The power and elegance of Sensuous Enemy’s “Whispers”, featuring the spectacular voice of Jai Ingersoll, gives way to the swingy and wistful folk ditty “Madison Boogie” from Maggie “Catfish” Siegfried and the countrified “Lights Play Tricks” by Aaron Scholz, who succeeds in single-handedly resurrecting the sound of the Flying Burrito Brothers.
On the jazzier side, The Stellanovas’ “Tin Tile” showcases Chris Wagoner’s violin and mate Mary Gaines’ whistling talents and stellar cello solo. Ingrid Frances Stark turns in “Cab Drivin’ Mama” and what could be a Union Cab theme song. Tony Castaneda and the Latin Jazz Sextet get in on the act with the finale “Volcano Alto”, which clocks in at over nine minutes. The tune never departs from or drops its beat.
There is a sampling of noise rock, too. Tribal Call belts out “Suck This” and though the song stumbles rhythmically it makes up for it in sheer tribalism. Auto Chaotic contributes the metal growler “Karma.” On the harder rock side, “Too Drunk to Fish” is a hilarious getup, melding Lynyrd Skynyrd swagger with George Thorogood-like debauchery. Excellent mix on this one, too.
Subvocal’s “Judi” remains majestic and haunting, Mark Adkins’ ode to environmental activist Judi Bari sounding still fresh nearly five years after its original release.
It wouldn’t be apropos for me to judge “The Prophet’s Trail” as it’s performed by the Sled Dogs and penned by yours truly (I also play the guitars). Let me just say that for a demo version, I’m pretty damn pleased with the results. The song is part of a cycle based on Blackhawk, hence the Native American overtones.
The surprise tune that caught me most off-guard is the Getaway Drivers’ excellent “Honey on a Razor.” I was not fully prepared for the giant leap that Bob Manor has taken with his band. The addition of Barb Chusid on keyboards and Dan Kennedy on electric guitar takes the Getaway Drivers to a new level. Manor recently dropped off his new album, the six-song The Truth is Where It’s Always Been… so I’m looking forward to reviewing that real soon.
Rearview Visionaries Vol. 2 was mastered by Mike Zirkel at Smart Studios so you know it sounds good. It also could be the last local release from the fabled, world-class studio.