Emotional - The Band

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:2 Release Date:2017-03-17

Upon seeing the cover of Emotional’s latest album The Band, I was immediately hit with a sinking feeling. This was a too-close-for-comfort take on Workingman’s Dead from one of my most disliked bands, The Grateful Dead. I’ve seen them in concert, seen The Jerry Garcia Band, and even own American Beauty, so it isn’t that I hate everything about them. Just the same, I went to college with two serious Dead Heads, and their suffocating, cultish world made me come to really dislike so much about them, not to mention that their music is unrelentingly dull. I’ve never heard a soloist like Garcia and I hope I never do again. Bend a fucking string now and then, for crissakes. Oh, and the hippie dance the fans do is used as stock footage for Fox News when they want to gin up some more geriatric paranoia. See what these damn hippies are up to??

Back to the nature at hand; Emotional. What drew me to them was the press release comparison to Gram Parsons, who I really dig. Unfortunately, whoever writes publicity for the band needs to get their country-folk-rock source references straight because it's the aforementioned Dead whose presence smothers this record like so many clouds of smoke in a VW bus. The other influence is Americana specialists The Band, and Wakefield is definitely not pulling any punches when it comes to marketing. The cover artwork, along with the Workingman’s Dead rip-off, features, in large font, the words THE BAND, which is the album title and not the artist. Subtle as a freight train. 

From the stable of Death Records (and featuring the label’s co-founder Brian Wakefield), Emotional is kind of an all-star ensemble of the label’s artists. Yet, this second effort is still largely Wakefield’s baby. He’s singer/songwriter/multi-instrumental musician/producer/and starting point guard. As such, Wakefield put together some mellowfied jangles about life on the road and all those boilerplate things that bands have been beating to death since Grand Funk Railroad and beyond.

His voice has a reedy whine not unlike the late great Gram Parsons (but still more like Garcia), however, that’s where the similarities end. What is acutely obvious are the similarities I already noted. Indeed, this would make a great gift for the dear Deadhead in your life who may just want to take a break from the 9,417th spin of the soundboard recording from the third night in London, September 11, 1974, second set, when the band played an unexpected version of “What’s Become of the Baby” for the first and only time in the band’s history and Jerry was fucking on that night, man! Sorry, I had an acid flashback of the very worst kind.

Specifically (even as it all kinda sounds the same), “Japan” is a jangly ditty about life in the titular country while “TV & Newspapers” references a seriously dated form of communication. Honestly, who the hell still reads a newspaper? “Jealousy” does us all the favor of spelling out the word, ala “Respect” but without the quality, and “Tequila Pineapple” is just…oh, for fuck’s sake, just look at the title. Never before have such quality items been linked together in such a lame song, although I will thank them for giving me an interesting twist on the old lick, drink, suck routine. Lastly, “The Ballad of the Band” is a song that I can only hope is an attempt at serious irony.

In short, The Band (pretention much?) works well if you’re in need of some nostalgia or if you simply enjoy spineless, jangly, pot and red wine on the beach, “classic” rock. And, for the record, I’d like to punch whoever coined that term, right in their John Lennon-glassed face.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars