(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, June 10, 2011

CD review - The Indelicates, David Koresh Superstar (2011)

The Indelicates seem to have an affinity for provocation. Their latest album, David Koresh Superstar, had its roots in an earlier project: The Book of Job: The Musical. The actor playing Job joked, "What's next? Waco: The Musical?" and that planted the seed. Simon Indelicate and the band have captured the '70s rock musical sound of shows like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar to create a wonderfully shocking novelty...

Well, not quite.

Sure, the subject is audacious, but the songs themselves are solid and the story they tell is nuanced and interesting. This makes David Koresh Superstar a clever concept album masquerading as novelty fluff. Like any concept album, the effect is wasted if the CD is used for mere background listening.

The tale begins with Remember the Alamo, which evokes the mythology of the Alamo as a symbol of ideological freedom and martyrdom. The dark folk feel of the acoustic guitar underlies the clear vocals and forms the overture for the album.

The Road From Houston to Waco outlines the roots of Koresh's life encompassing both the formative events that shaped him and his religious delusions of grandeur. As David Koresh Superstar continues, it parallels Jesus Christ Superstar, building to the inevitable conflict. These parallels come as much from Koresh's biography as they do from the Indelicate's artistic license.

There are big differences between the two narratives, of course. Where Jesus in JCS is conflicted and human, Koresh is more arrogant and sure. I am Koresh illustrates this, showing Koresh's first overt step in creating the cult of personality that he tied to Jesus' path. David Koresh Superstar captures the complexity of the real story. Koresh is treated with the skepticism he deserves, but neither the ATF and the media are given a pass.

Beyond the storyline, the songs are well written, using a clear, direct voice to make the lyrics stand out. The music is also quite interesting, jumping from acoustic folk to layered instrumental to rock. A Book of the Seven Seals marries elements from Hair's The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In) and JSC's The Temple to create tense, allegorical reprise of the story.

The Indelicates best summarize Koresh's arc in A Single Thrown Grenade:
I will know for certain if He's up there
And I will know for certain if He's not
Either will be balm for this aching
For the things I want and haven't got
I'll know the scorching hearts of our evil
And I'll know the simple nature of my fear
I'll be a single thrown grenade into air so still
That the shockwave forms a perfect sphere
The quiet certainty of the words and the simple country folk music make a powerful pair. Likewise, the attention grabbing theme for this album and its serious execution take Kool-Aid and spin it into Bordeux.

Another single: Something's Goin' Down in Waco (on SoundCloud)

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