Reviewing 2012's GENE CASEY and the LONE SHARKS "Untrained" CD, author, musician Josh Alan Friedman posted this blog (http://joshalanfriedman.blogspot.com): Gene Casey is in the drivers seat with a disc that should wear out jukeboxes across the country. There are no A or B sidesall are sure to be first-rate coin cullers at the jukes. Let it be said at first, the man has a great voice. And the guy knows how to make a record. So does his band, The Lone Sharks.
Kicking off this platter is an autobiographical ditty, I Think About Elvis Every Day. He wonders what Presley might say, although about what doesnt matter. Good riff and holler. They may never let Casey sing Come Home with Me on The Ed Sullivan Show (without changing to come out). But Cadillac For Sale is a road song that should make inroads at diners and gas stops along Route 66. The tracks also have a dramatic Spector-like drama that cries out for inclusion in movie soundtracks.
Gene Caseys lower baritone vocals are his strongest weapon, his voice a picture-book blend between Ernest Tubb and Ronnie Spector. With a subtle hint of Lennon. Maybe he was born with golden pipes, but the lyrical diction Casey has developed comes from the ages. He knows how to deliver lyrics, has a good way with vowels and does killer background vocals. (Dig the way he enunciates a soft p on Gone Hollywood, a cut from his 2008 masterwork, What Happened.)
This may be esoteric praise, but to the masses, Casey is the premier barroom troubador of Eastern Long Island. That includes Montauk, the Hamptons on up to Riverhead and any town with an Indian name. But theres no doubt he would sweep the Sons of Herman Hall crowd in Dallas off their feet, not to mention The Broken Spoke in Austin. A few $50 handshakes from Morris Levy or Don Robey would secure heavy rotation in Southern radio markets (and reap teen coin amongst both bobby soxers and aging intellectuals alike).
As a guitarist, Casey has refined the Duane Eddy single-note lead line. But this album isnt about showoff picking. Americana (which categorizes real music they dont play on commercial radio) is rarely done with such exquisite taste and production. Untrained squares favorably against the latest Johnny Cash, Johnny Burnette or Junior Brown.
copyright 2012 Josh Alan Friedman
2008's GENE CASEY and the LONE SHARKS "What Happened"
CD, HOWARD THOMPSON, WPKN-FM, Bridgeport, CT and North Fork Sound
of which brings me to their new 12-song cd, "What Happened",
(no 'question marks' necessary, bub) now available at CDBaby.com
and soon at the iTunes and Amazon digi-stores. You can bet if
it ever gets released in the UK, the label will press
Reviewing "What Happened":
By Baylis Greene (East Hampton Star, July 18, 2008 NY )
Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks have a new CD.
( 7/15/2008 ) As soon as Gene Casey opens his mouth on his new CD, What Happened, his voice plunges to mannish lower registers where only Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings once ventured. He might strain to get there, but get there he does. Its as if he had completed a strategically targeted course of bovine growth hormone.
The idea is to match the speaker with the hard-luck tale hes relating in Which Lie to Tell, a dusty kind of cheaters lament from someone who has told one too many. It also announces a departure for Mr. Casey and his band, the Lone Sharks , who over the years have earned a reputation as the East End s best live act.
Mr. Casey, who wrote the albums 12 tracks, has explored the more rewarding corners of country and western music and its progeny and come up with a disc that remains thematically of a piece love, sex, and what the hell goes wrong while he and the boys change speeds with practically each song in turn.
Of course it can be fun when romance tanks. Which Lie to Tell is followed by a chugging rocker worthy of Dave Edmunds, Gone Hollywood, in which Mr. Casey presents a character who relishes the chance to tell off a woman, a fellow singer, who is not only leaving him, but selling out: You used to be a country girl, but now youre going pop. An overnight sensation, youre the toast of Tinseltown. Id say congratulations but you never come around.
The lines are delivered in clarion-clear tones of accusation. A switch to an insinuating sotto voce is made in the final kiss-off: When youre on the mountain, girl, look before you leap. Then back to sharp stridency: The grass is always greener where they put you six feet deep.
To the extent that anyone still buys CDs and listens to them straight through in the order in which the artist intended, like a book of short stories, this is one that deserves the treatment. The storytelling gives you a variety of perspectives on the affairs of the heart.
The basso profundo at the end of his rope in Which Lie to Tell has his temptations explained three songs later in the honky-tonk Bad Baby, and then is rebutted three songs after that by someone who doesnt worry so much, in Thats What Cheaters Do: If I should see you in town, just walking around, should I keep my head down, and not make a sound? As I walk on by, and catch your eye, not even say hi? And you know why. Thats what we do, me and you.
He goes on to ask for a rendezvous that night in a place where the lights are low.
For the more sensitive, the shuffling If I Can Do It (So Can You) is a losers rationalization (learn to deny, learn to forget) that sounds like Jim Reeves singing Patsy Cline. I Was Right, a lovely ballad that would have suited Roy Orbison, examines the depths of self-pity. The speaker first says, Pardon me, but I told you so, hell never get over her, and then imagines vindication in the utmost delusion: When she knocks upon my door and says she wants what we had before, then Ill know for sure, I was right.
Sometimes its all about the mechanics of satisfaction. In I Love What I Do, a roadhouse stomp punctuated by a deep Duane Eddy twang, a swingers daddy told him to enjoy his work, but it took me a little while to find where my talents lay. . . . I know what I am, a hard-working man. Working on you slight pause I love what I do.
He goes into the particulars: I put a lot of care into what I do, a whole lot of attention to the details too. . . . I give it all Ive got, and Ive been told thats quite a lot.
All in all, What Happened is as revelatory as a midcentury gem that comes over late-night radio. Gene Casey has forever knocked back the criticism that a local band cant produce a great album.
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