Wednesday, April 25, 2007

George Brigman Returns With a Vengeance and unleashes Rags In Skull!

The release of George Brigman's Rags In Skull is an event that many, including yours truly, have been waiting for a real long time. I've been personally involved with this man's muse since I tracked him down back in 1981 and he played me some amazing unreleased recordings. The power and intensity of George's music instantly floored me, and having heard only Jungle Rot and the "Blowin Smoke" 45 previously, I realized then not only could George play a mean axe, but had an artistic vision uniquely his. I helped George release those recordings, known as I Can Hear the Ants Dancin , and tried to gain George the audience he deserved. Fast forward about 20 years and despite having released only a handful of new material, George music has remained in the public eye due to rabid fans and extensive bootlegging in Europe, the latest being simultaneous CD boots from the UK and Austria in late 2004. In the meantime, I had started up my own company, Bona Fide Records which got mothballed around 1990 and George made several aborted attempts at new recordings. Once the CD boots came out, we embarked on a plan to recapture the lost revenue, as we realized after a short acrimonious negotiation with Radioactive's Steven Carr, the chance of recovering any money from the boots was nil. So we released our own CDs from the masters and expanded as well. These 2 CDs were intended to set the table for the ultimate release of Rags In Skull, the work George had been working on for years.

So now, the CD has finally been released and Brigman's efforts are available for everyone to hear. Unlike the career retrospective CDs we released earlier, Rags In Skull features all new material and further maps out the sonic territory George has claimed for his own. The despondent downer vibe that permeated Jungle Rot is still evident though its obvious George's songwrting, singing, and guitar playing, not to mention his recording skills have grown in stature, and the new work is fully realized and shows George in command of his skills as never before! If you dont believe me, listen to what others are already saying: James Toth writng in Your Flesh Mag says "His Fred Cole-like dedication to an aesthetic would be noble enough even if the album didn’t rock so mightily, but rock it does. In short, Rags in Skull is everything The Stooges’ bogus ‘reunion’ album should have been but wasn’t, and very near the top of a relatively short list of essential 2007 releases thus far." Gregory Conner writing in Tufts Daily seemed to agree, "Brigman sounds totally stuck in the '70s on this album, but still manages to let loose, heavyweight hard rock riffs that knock out present day contenders...when you find yourself at the end of Brigman's tour through his torn up and dragged down world, you find yourself only wanting to go back down for more." Or maybe "Brigman indulges the guitar hero in everyone, the latter throwing arena-echoed ax squiggles into the sunset, showing he was always fit for that big national stage--our loss, not his." by George Smith, Baltimore City Paper

Has the rest of the world (with Europe apparently leading the way) finally caught up with George Brigman? The 4 star reviews in Mojo and the All Music Guide seem to indicate that may be the case, but the ever changing music scene still is fraught with peril for musicians of George's ilk. Brigman is surely an iconoclast beholden to noone and incapable of being placed in a bag. His bluesy, heavy, progressive rock straddles genres and is difficult to pigoenhole. Its an intoxicating mix of the earthy and the divine. Abrasive rockers that pummell you into submission alternate with deftly played slow burners that stand aside unorthodox instrumentals to create a multi-layered web of sound that's more than the sum of its parts. Clearly, the state of the music biz today with a glut of product as well as faceless, identical chain stores and rampant illegal downloading makes it even more difficult for people to pick up on George. We do our part to get the news out via this blog, our web site, George's My Space, and our brand new You Tube page. Unfortunately, George's health and lack of a permanent band preclude any touring, and that's a great loss as I've seen the man live and know what he can do!

So we offer you this live, sort of, video from 1985 featuring a lineup of Split that was short lived doing a previously unreleased tune "Make It One Day". Almost as conventional a rock song as you'll ever hear from Brigman, its an intriguing snapshot of a band that clearly could rock with the best of them. The tag at the end allows you to hear the incredible auto-biographical rocker "Some of my Best Friends Are Snakes" from the new CD. Be sure to check out the interview also posted on You Tube where George explains his success or lack of it. Only recently has his hometown of Baltimore finally realized--hey, this guy is great! So rock they do on the video, and even more so on the new CD. Far from being a boring comeback of rehashed or weak material, it is alive with sonic pleasure, a treat for your ears, and a very exciting work which still doesn't sound like anything else.

To read about George in his own words, check out the Brigman interview from Blog to Comm!