Album Reviews

Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power – Pleasure Before Business

(Fire) UK release date: 14 April 2008

Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power - Pleasure Before Business Limping along, clanking and wheezing like a dilapidated van, veteran of the Nashville music scene Dave Cloud jerks into view in a raspy-voiced, rattling undercarriage of psychedelic maverick country blues-rock and soul.

Harnessing the power of the blues, garage, country, soul and rock and roll under the banner and backing group of the revolving members Gospel of Power (including the cream of Nashville’s underground musicians from Lambchop and Silver Jews amongst others).Intrigued? You should be.

The album is a mix of Cloud’s own works alongside some choice classics from the pop wonder years and the mix is seamless. The seeming amateurism of Hey (You’re Beautiful) and Cloud’s stumbling lines declaiming, “You’re so sexy, you’re so sexy” like some budget Barry White on a shoestring budget calls to mind the good Captain Beefheart‘s minimal blues toyings where ‘proper’ singing and tunes are cast aside for atmosphere and attitude.

Cloud carries the songs by mixing a weathered voice that tells of the damage its been through to get in such a state. Like the amber tonsils of Iggy Pop or Tom Waits, David Cloud is not going to be mistaken for no-one but David Cloud.

Land Of A Thousand Dances is mutated into a free-wheeling burst with the shadowy twilight backing from Nina Persson of The Cardigans. Riding a low-slung belly of dirty, sleazy blues guitar You Don’t Need Sex or the ridiculous imagery of “wood-nymphs take my hand to an orgy” from Orgy, which shimmers along on a lounge-ambient bongo and guitar wash as Cloud recounts a narrative like Bootsy Collins gone pastoral.

The sheer indulgence in music history and lack of attempt to emulate calls to mind Gibby Hayes from the Butthole Surfers in the psychedelic breakdown and effects pedals turning the initially innocent ’60s bubblegum Mary Jane into something far more sinister. For further proof see the positively nightmarish Yummy, Yummy, Yummy; soon to be retitled Scary, Scary, Scary. Not one for the kids, and all the better for it – but then I always had a penchant for the weird and the wired.

Rock Video comes over as a Transylvanian grasp to slur ‘rock video’ into something like a vampiric operatic chant, with suitably sideshow stalking organs.

By the time of Try Just A Little, Cloud sounds fragile and on the point of collapse as the band stumble around his fractured vocal giving the impression he couldn’t try any more. At all. Airplane Japan and 50 Dollar are both Venus In Furs screech and drone of clanging guitars and violin-like wails. Secret Wife stretches the formula into some shamanic chant over a tantric musical wigout as vocals gets distorted, a guitar picks out an Indian-flecked line that borders on the ridiculous.

As if acknowledging this Cloud relents and proffers the semi-funky warning to his baby not to go out wearing too few clothes on the penultimate Cosmetology. Finally he throttles the life out of If I Can’t Have You from disco beauty into gutter snarl from a dustbin.

Musicianship this isn’t as songs veer drunkenly out of synch, bum notes proliferate, the singing is probably not in any key; but somehow there is a power there that intrigues and pulls you in. You know you shouldn’t like it but feel helpless to its hopelessness. An unexpected, treat for anyone that loved the Nuggets / Pebbles classic collections of ’60s psyche-rock and garage gems or the skewed-blues of Nick Cave‘s Grinderman. A modern classic in the making.

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Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power – Pleasure Before Business