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Doc Mustard - 2008 - "Prizoner"

(58:37, 'John Huldt')

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Apathy 4:11 	
2.  I Can't Help 3:14 	
3.  It Isn't Easy 3:17 	
4.  Carmen of the Forest 3:30 	
5.  Too Scared 3:33 	 
6.  Tougher Than Tuff 4:43 	
7.  If They Were Animals 3:09 	
8.  You Go Your Way 3:15 	
9.  Bilderberg Boogie 4:17 	
10. Sweet Baby Jelly 3:14 	
11. Borrowed Time 3:40 	
12. Touche 3:09 	
13. The Facts 4:27 	
14. Zeitgeist 4:16 	
15. The Black Stone Club 4:18 	
16. The Smile on My Face 3:05 	
17. Bums on Seats 2:31


Doc Mustard  all instruments

Prolusion. DOC MUSTARD is a UK-based musician and personality in his mid-fifties, with a background as a keyboardist in ska and reggae acts but first and foremost known as a busker, a trade he has pursued for several decades if I've understood his biographical information correctly. I'm not quite sure how many previous releases he's been involved in, but as far as I could gather "Prizoner" is his first release under the Doc Mustard moniker.

Analysis. On this hour-long creation we're taken on a round trip in a rather eccentric musical universe. Instrument-wise, it's nothing fancy; apart from extensive and clever use of layered keyboards, any complexities are hard to spot, if even present on any level at all. But there are a few odd musical ventures to digest; mixing elements from ska and reggae with space rock is not something one comes across too often for instance. Slide-guitar dominated bluesy tracks and plain singer-songwriter explorations with a few odd effects thrown in are the dominant features of this creation, and with a couple of exceptions only pop music is the name of the game here; the elements added from space rock, blues, ska and reggae are spices more than dominant traits as such and the songs are simplistic in general. The mood and atmosphere remind me of artists such as Stan Ridgway as well as Frank Zappa at his most simplistic, by far as detailed but treading similar waters in some aspects, the main of which are the vocals or rather the lyrics provided by the vocals. Doc Mustard writes about various observations he has made over the years and serves them up with wry humor and on select occasions some rather vitriolic comments are thrown about in a humorous way - humorous, that is, if you disregard the targets of his comments. Some of these are aimed at himself at least partially: "I can't help being so fat, supermarkets took care of that", while others are aimed at faults he has observed in society, like in a tune about retirement homes: "The only way out is in a plywood coffin, but they're worth more alive because their rent is astonishing". And it's his lyrics and how he conveys them that are the main selling points for this creation. Doc Mustard is a capable musician, especially on keyboards, and countless live performances as a busker have given him good experience in how to utilize his voice to the best possible effect. The best songs aren't half bad either; many of them are rather charming affairs, but very much dependent on the lyrics and vocal delivery in order to come across as interesting. Overall this makes for a rather mixed release, with more songs on the weak side than the good one. But the good ones may just make this an interesting purchase nonetheless, even if the compositional quality and complexity of performance for the most part is lacking.

Conclusion. The UK artist Doc Mustard serves an eccentric mix of songs with a distinct commercial edge on this album. There's not much here of interest to fans of progressive rock per se, but those who enjoy humorous lyrics dealing with various aspects of the realities of life might want to check this one out further.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 12, 2009
The Rating Room

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