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John Wilkes Booze
FIVE PILLARS OF SOUL
(Kill Rock Stars)
Stars graphics

If you didn’t realize that the five pillars of soul are Melvin Van Peebles, Patty "Tania" Hearst, Albert Ayler, Marc Bolan, and Yoko Ono, then you’re ripe for re-education by John Wilkes Booze, a sweat-hemorrhaging sextet straight outta south-central Indiana. They wanna proselytize your benighted ass, spreading the gospel of these minor deities via supersonic soul and conceptual found-sound collage.

This disc is actually a distillation of five CD EPs released in 2002, each with a chapbook-thick manifesto professing the soulful bona fides of its particular subject. But it’s the songs that cause conversions. "Sweetback’s Gonna Make It" lauds Van Peebles, proto-rap firebrand and director of Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Asssss Song, building from blaxploitation bass and tumescent organ into squalls of noise swirling ’round a strangled falsetto that morphs from Curtis Mayfield to Karen O. On "White Guilt," they parallel Hearst’s dalliance with the radical dark side, exorcising their pasty-faced bourgeois leanings while exercising their right to Blues Explosion-esque racial play-acting, giving soul-on-fire shout-outs to H. Rap Brown and Albert Ayler. It’s the latter who’s channeled in "They Don’t Like Me in This Town," a cacophony of vicious sax squalls and creeping paranoia. Meanwhile "Academy Flight Song" hops across the pond to bow before electric love god Bolan, its loopy chanting ("let’s make some love before we die") weaving around a loping piano and the T. Rex frontman’s own ghostly words. And "See Through Sound" is a garage-punk paean to Yoko. She broke up the Beatles, then "held the weight of the world’s blame and let rock ’n’ roll rebuild itself again." These are her children.

(John Wilkes Booze appear this Sunday, April 11, at the Flywheel, 2 Holyoke Street in Easthampton; call 413-527-9800.)

BY MIKE MILIARD


Issue Date: April 9 - 15, 2004
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