Friday, November 17, 2017

Eugeology: Eugene's List of Hard Rock Albums and Possible Gems Part 25 - King's X 'Gretchen Goes To Nebraska'

Yeah, I got really behind on this project. A project that I started! I'm slack at times. I just haven't been in the mood to write lately. But lets get back on this train!

I remember the day that a girlfriend played ‘Gretchen Goes to Nebraska’ for me. It was a hot day in June and we were headed for lunch at the Taco Time that used to be on High Point Road (now Gate City Blvd) in Greensboro. She drove a small red Toyota Tercel with no air conditioning.

She had a promotional cassette that was given out to radio stations a few weeks ahead of the release.

We were already familiar and in love with ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ from King’s X. So as soon as she saw that new release, she snagged it.

For me, it was MILES ahead of ‘Out of the Silent Planet’. The songs still rocked hard, but they had more of a pop music sensibility to them.

“Over My Head” is still one of my favorite songs of all time. And for some reason, it reminds me of something from Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. I’m not sure why, but it does. The song just reminds me of Mother Abigail.

I got to see them in a club in Hickory called Cadillacs and they blew me away. They were one of the tightest rock bands that I had ever seen live. When they all reached a “quick stop” in a song, there was silence for a split second, and BOOM! They were back into the song. It was like a punch to the gut.

Doug Pinnick possesses one of the greatest voices in hard rock and how he does what he does on the bass guitar while singing has always blown my mind. Ty Tabor delivers guitar god antics without all the trappings of Stratocaster royalty. He does the job, but if you listen carefully to the craftsmanship, you’ll find out that he SHOULD reside in the guitar gods Rolodex. And Jerry Gaskill provides the drums and timing needed for these three great musicians that doesn’t get enough respect.

And between them, they really bring home big harmonies.

I love the production on this album. You could slice cheese with the sharpness of the production. And for me, there’s not a single track that I would throw away.

‘Gretchen Goes to Nebraska’ should be enjoyed with headphones or ear buds.

“Out of the Silent Planet” opens the album with a light touch of harmonies with really heavy guitars just buried underneath. The vocals are as smooth as a ride in a new Cadillac.

“Over My Head” hits you like a bullet out of the blue. I have always loved the sound of the bass guitar in this one and Pinnick’s voice is golden on this track.

“Summerland” is another lush track layered with melodic guitars and harmonies. But wait for it… The gut punch will arrive as Pinnick drives home the vocals.

“Every Body Knows A Little Bit of Something” starts off with a small salute to soul with the opening vocals. The guitars kick in and then it backs off with the lead vocals on my favorite effect, flange. And yes, it’s very “headphonic”. I love that stuff. Pinnick’s slap bass is understated and exactly what the song needs during verses. Tabor’s biting strat keeps the song anchored with molten hard rock lead.

“The Difference (In the Garden of St. Anne’s On-The-Hill)” is another lush song laced with those Cadillac ride vocals, acoustic guitars, and tasteful percussive treats from Gaskill. The song is a perfect “palate cleanser” for this album. It reminds the less than average fan of just how good these cats are.

“I’ll Never Be The Same” is another hard rocker with Pinnick’s soulful vocals laced with a hint of gravel. The song has so many riffs perfect for any air guitarist in your life. The lack of overdubs really makes this song great in my opinion, especially during the lead solo.

“The Mission” starts off with a slight melodic misrepresentation before giving you a light kick in the rump. The song is an interesting look at religion and I have used the “assembly of a social gathering” many a times regarding my views about organized religion.

“Fall On Me” has always immediately reminded me of a Robin Trower song. It just has that vibe. And it’s another song that has “the open canvas” when it comes to overdubbing. They show that you don’t need to cover up all the blankness to make a damn fine song. And remember that thing that I wrote about the sudden stop in a song that filled Cadillac’s with silence?

Well, it comes at about the 3:45 mark in the song.

“Pleiades” features the vocals of Ty Tabor. In my opinion, his vocals are a little thin but they but quite calming and subdued. If it weren’t for the guitars on this song, it would be close to a throw away. It’s my least favorite tune on the album.

Thankfully “Don’t Believe it” comes back in to wake you up. Again there are hints of Mother India in this track filled with air guitar worthy riffs.

“Send A Message” has a nice little bouncy beat to it as it melts your face. And like most of the other tracks on this album, break out your air guitars.

“The Burning Down” closes out the record with Tabor handling the vocals. It sounds like The Beatles with a wall of Marshall amps behind them. It’s melodic with the loud guitars complimenting the lush vocals. At times the song meanders along, but that’s not a bad thing. The song makes for a fine closer on this album.

Check out Tim's take on this album at his blog. I would direct you to Jon's take, but he's more behind than I am. And I've been unemployed for 2 months!

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