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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Blind Uncle Harry

The Gospel According to Blind Uncle Harry

Review by Gary Hill

This is a very strange set. Look at the cover to the disc, and scan the titles to the songs. Both of those things really fit this disc. The music here is essentially bluegrass, but it's very tongue-in-cheek and it presents a dichotomy. First, the musicianship is actually strong, but the music (and particularly the vocals) at times have a loose grasp of being on key with each other. Given the skill level conveyed, and the odd humor of many of the lyrics, I have to assume that's artistic choice. Besides, it's not all that unusual for the type of music this is emulating. This is like bluegrass music that seems meant to make fun of bluegrass music, both lyrically and musically. Yet, the talent still shines through. In a lot of ways this more quirky alternative rock music than it is bluegrass in terms of mindset. Yet, the music is all bluegrass, country and folk. However you see this, it's designed for a specific audience, and likely to turn off a lot of other people. It's important to note that there are frequent parental advisories for the lyrics.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Long Lonesome Tune
Old school bluegrass is on the menu here. Other than the recording quality, this really feels like something that could have been recorded in the 1920s. There are both male and female voices here, and traditional bluegrass instrumentation guides the music of the piece.
D Chord Hammer Ditty
Closer to folk music, this still has a lot of country and bluegrass built into it. I have to say that I'm not a fan of this song, either from a musical or lyrical point of view. I'd consider this the "pass it up" song of the set, but your mileage may vary.
Cry Me a Rainbow
The folk concepts are pretty dominant here. The male vocal on the piece calls to mind Bob Dylan a bit. The arrangement has a lot going on. It has a tendency to be a bit too busy in some ways.
Song For The Revolution
Bluegrass and folk music merge on this down-home number. This is one of the more successful pieces of the set.
Uh Oh (Sounds Like Somebody P***ed Off Jesus)
More than the first minute of this is acapella. Then the whole group join in on the chorus, which is mostly the parenthetical of the title. This cut is really bizarre, but in a good way. It's sure to offend some people.
Savannah Kentuckiana
The bluegrass concepts on this are fun. This is one of the stronger pieces here. In some ways I think I'd describe this is a "hoe-down Camper Van Beethoven." I love the redneck guitar solo.
Hillbilly Hippie Haiku Heaven
Fast-paced bluegrass is the order of business here. This number is silly, in a good way. It's a fun tune.
Strip Mining My Heart
A much mellower piece, this has some intricate instrumental work. It also has a very down-home feeling to it. I particularly like the violin (or should I say "fiddle?") on it.
Emma Lynn
Slower moving and less powered up than some of the music here, this is an intriguing cut. It is essentially a ballad.
Sunny Afternoon
This number earns a parental advisory. There is an odd silliness to the tune, although it's also rather serious. Folk and bluegrass merge on the number.
Indiana
The jus harp is a nice touch. The down-home vibe on this is a lot of fun. I'd consider this piece to be a highlight of the set. This does get a bit of a parental advisory, too. The section on "sundown towns" is likely to offend based on some of the lyrics, but honestly, the tune is sure to offend a lot of people, and it's all meant to make fun of the people who use those terms in real life.
It's All F***ed
I guess I don't need to tell you that this track earns a parental advisory, right? This has more of the down-home sound we've come to expect here. The lyrics are actually pretty funny, and a real juxtaposition to the music. There is a little studio chatter at the end of this piece.
 
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