An titularly interesting semantic conflation of two classic titles in rock (The Flying Burrito Bros.' Gilded Palace of Sin LP and Spooky Tooth's You Broke My Heart, so I Busted Your Jaw release), this CD captures a cinematically cabaretic tour de force that's progressive in bent but rock in nature—rock, though, of the Rain Parade, Mission UK, Lone Kent, Tom Waits variety, drizzly, atmospheric, and hypnotically inviting. It's rather astonishing, then, that there are only three musicians present (Pete Phythian, Michelle Lock, and Vini Taylor) and that they carry off such a huge sound so masterfully. On the other hand, they're multi-instrumentalists and miss nothing between 'em.
The degree of deep acumen here automatically denotes the band's English origins (sorry, fellow Yanks, but the Brits are still ahead of us educationally in almost all respects), delving not only into the idioms displayed but more so into what informed even those wellsprings, thus facilitating the synthesis achieved, a quilt of rock, folk, troubadour, Satie-esque modern classicalism, prairie, metal, and a welter of subtle and overt ingredients. Mainly, though, Palace is intelligent as hell. I see Randy Newman, Chris Smither, and Leonard Cohen enjoying this as much as Mike Scott, Tony Carey, or Tim Friese-Greene.
Mean Old Jack dives into a rutted country groove that Johnny Cash would've liked: gritty, nasty, funky, irresistibly mesmeric and relentless, dragging the listener into a familiar Hades enmiring even electronic discombulation as it draws to a chaotic finale. That's just the third cut and, by the time you get there, you're already nervous and shaking, gibbering, looking fearfully around, and addicted. Goodbye valium, hello ketamine. As dark as any nightmare, the band has infected that wary aspect of the limbic system eternally vigilant for danger, and all of Palace is indeed foreboding, brooding. At one point, they even—dare I say it???—become Arts Bears-ish (Rubbing Up).
If, like me, you were left wanting oh-so-much more with the Golden Palominos and other alt-art-rock groups that shot for the target but missed it, then, brothers and sisters, salvation is here. This is a masterpiece, a Dantean tour of old and new urbano-cultural decay, a screed upon the heedlessness of society and the inevitable consequences of becoming the aggregate embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins. A dark midnight awaits, and that's not a chariot to heaven up ahead but instead a noisome and hazy flatboat ferrying a pallid swamp, a creaky pontoon captained by a robed and hooded figure inspiring dread...or, as the band puts it:
Well, we been through it all
The weight of my soul's a heavy burden on my shoulders
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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