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Paul Mark & the Van Dorens - Blood & Treasure

Blood & Treasure

Paul Mark & the Van Dorens

WEM 002

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

First of all, the cover photo is a marvelous piece of modern photography defying easy viewing, a strange brew of trompe l'oeil, realism, and destruction. The interior shots are righteous, too, simultaneously strange and quaint, kinda like a gutter Norman Rockwell who just viewed his first Salvador Dali canvas through a drunken Lionel Feinenger. Then there's the music.

We immediately hear a bit of David Johanssen in Paul Mark, as well as vertebrae from the backbone of Chicago blues, Buffett, and a very strong element of the best of 50s and 60s rock brought smoothly forward. In a lot of ways, Blood & Treasure is what Bob Seger used to do and still might had he not been sanitized by success. Mark has a strong voice, a versatile guitar, a trusty harmonica, and a multi-faceted talent for composition going for him but can also boast a swingin' band, so it ain't like the cat came to the party without a partner.

Don't Get Me Started rises as a righteous dirty white soul number and perhaps serves as Rosetta Stone, as the singer embodies a raw approach knocking the edges off just enough to bring all his virtues out sharply, Rick Steff's Hammond going a long way to help. This is the sort of music I always wished to hell the J. Geils Group would have made, gutsy, full-blooded, funky, and virile. Raise the Roof demonstrates that in spades, and then Lotta Things to Say swings like a bottle of bourbon in a rolling earthquake.

I don't know if the label is going to make the promo interview sheet available to the public, but it gives a great insight into Mark, who has a sly wit and earthy sense of things while masking a good deal of intelligence. This guy's an interesting character, and reading his thoughts on various subjects explains how he can pull off what's actually a fairly complex base sound and make it completely natural.

Track List:

  • Everything is Nothing
  • Don't Get Me Started
  • Perp Walk
  • Raise the Roof
  • Lotta Things to Say
  • Let Them Talk
  • Feed the Machine
  • I'm Still High
  • Wrong Pair of Shoes
  • Extraordinary Measures
  • Ruff House
All songs written by Paul Mark except "Let Them Talk" (S.Thompson).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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