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This week’s installment is the absolute embodiment of the term “Power Pop”… an album called Redhead, by the prolific industry insider known as Bleu. Super hooky melodies, smart yet interesting production by John Fields, slamming grooves by various L.A. studio players, and tons of unexpected but pleasant twists and turns. This record is a winner.
Redhead, Bleu’s first major label recording, was released by Columbia in 2004. The opening track “Get Up” got a little radio play but didn’t really produce any momentum for the record. Bleu was also able to land the track “Somebody Else” on the Spiderman soundtrack, but that association was also unable to gain any significant notoriety for Redhead, and the album remains somewhat unknown. But seriously… it shouldn’t be. Bleu’s voice is a killer blend of control and passion, with a very pleasant pop tone. Picture what Rufus Wainwright would sound like if he really BROUGHT IT… energy-wise. The playing is great, the songs are even better, and the listener is left with a very clear picture of what a cohesive album is supposed to sound like – a rare thing in these days of EP’s and itunes singles. (If you feel like I’m getting a little out of hand in my praise of this recording, read this…)
The drumming on this record, similar to the Dogs Of Peace album that opened the AOTW series, is a great blend of interesting and emotional playing, with restrained and disciplined pop sensibility. The tracks are evenly divided between Dylan Hallacy and Dustin Hengst, with Jamie Vavra and William J. McAuley making single-track appearances. I’d never heard of any of these guys before buying Redhead, but they all sound GREAT. And then, a special appearance by the great Michael Bland for one song makes this a must-own record for any serious student of studio drumming. A high point on the record is Hengst’s treatment of the 7/4 signature in the record’s second track, “I Won’t Go to Hollywood.” He groups the measures in pairs and then doesn’t turn the groove around at the end of the first bar (so the snare hits the downbeat of bar 2, and the pattern proceeds through the 2nd measure with that “backwards” feel)… but somehow, despite the rule-breaking nature of that move, the groove sounds very cool and works really well within the tune.
Go listen to this record immediately. I’m not kidding… right now.