Saturday, January 11, 2014

Herman Brood - 50 The Soundtrack

Ever have a track stick in your mind?  One that took up residence in your sub-conscious and repeatedly percolated to the surface?  An earworm?  Have you ever been driven to buy the entire album even though you only knew the one track that you could not stop playing in your brain?  I have, and it was glorious.
I have to be honest with you. The album is not that great.  It is interesting, novel and is rock bizarre with its selection of oddly performed covers, but, damn, that first cut, "Jungle," it is monstrous, features samples of surf guitar immortal Dick Dale, and affixed itself to my cerebral cortex. 

In 1996, for his fiftieth birthday, Herman Brood released 50 The Soundtrack. Brood was a rocker, painter, performance artist, actor and poet.  Born in the Netherlands, in the 1970's and 1980's he became known as Netherlands’ preeminent rock 'n roll star. He led the epitome of the rock star lifestyle - sex, drugs and rock 'n roll - which is generally attributed to be the cause of his drug overdose suicide in 2001.

As a touring and recording musician Brood's journey began in 1976 with Herman Brood and his Wild Romance. Unfortunately, his out of control drug use became very public when on tour he was caught doing speedballs on a toilet in a high school during one of the band's concerts. Despite his demons and addictions Brood did manage to produce a few minor hits and toured the U.S. in 1979 as an opening act for The Kinks, The Cars and Foreigner.

For the album 50 The Soundtrack Brood sat in with some of the musicians who he admired during his career and covered songs he loved.  It is a tribute cover album of duets.  It resulted in some truly unusual couplings, like Herman Brood performing James Taylor's "Fire and Rain,"  Candy Dulfer playing with Brood on "Wild Sugar," and performances of "Cocaine," "My Funny Valentine," and "Strangers In The Night," all in quick succession.

Yet, it is Brood's treatment of Dick Dale's "Jungle" that drew me to 50 The Soundtrack. It is what made me buy the album and sit through some good, and some truly bizarre, renditions of old standards.  The album ultimately left me uneasy - it is brilliance, hope and hopelessness all rolled into one.  But it is "Jungle" that again and again calls me back.  You could say I went ape for the song. See what it does for you. 

- Old School

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