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John Huss Moderate Combo - Lipchitz

  by John Clarkson

published: 17 / 12 / 2001



John Huss Moderate Combo - Lipchitz
Label: Zippah
Format: CD

intro

'The John Huss Moderate Combo' are a band of striking contrasts. The title of 'Lipchitz', their debut CD, is in part a scatological pun, in part a tribute to Jacques Lipchitz, an early Cubist sculptor


'The John Huss Moderate Combo' are a band of striking contrasts. The title of 'Lipchitz', their debut CD, is in part a scatological pun, in part a tribute to Jacques Lipchitz, an early Cubist sculptor, and the album, which is an eclectic blend of folk, pop, rock 'n' roll, jazz, swing and bluegrass, similarly mixes together offbeat humour and variety, and jokes with musical versatility. Huss, the Chicago trio's guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter, uses science as a backdrop for many of the half philosophical, half tongue-in-cheek wordplays that dominate the album . Opening track 'Millennium', an exuberant pop number, sets the comic tone of the recording and is in part about Y2K meltdown. "Pack up your goods !/ Let's hit the woods !" Huss rampantly declares. "Bring along your VCR ! Bring along an extension chord/ though you won't need a car !" . The string-drenched 'How Can You Say There's No God When the World is So Bent', meanwhile takes a fresh look at the old age debate between science and religion. " I can not fathom Screamin' Jay Hawkins, so how can I fathom the great Stephen Hawking ?" Huss asks with non-plussed candour. Although he often looks to the surreal for inspiration, Huss has a knack too for finding the absurd and ridiculous in the commonplace and the ordinary. 'Tire Tool', another pop number, has Huss out running finding a car jack and finishes as an energetic rumination about maths. Swing jazz tune, 'Dad Sold His Sax' meanwhile has him looking at his own upbringing and wondering if his father did the right thing, when getting married, he sold his saxophone and exchanged it for a lawnmower. Office jobs, in which "when you pick up the phone, you can't talk like you talk at home", come under fire on the throwaway ditty 'Office Work', while bluegrass tune 'Suburbilly, written from the perspective of a self-confessed suburbanite, is about Huss's own move from New Jersey via Maine to Chicago. "I wasn't born on the bayou/Not even in a small town in Ohio" he proclaims "I can't sing the blues/I never felt them really/I'm not from the hills/I'm a suburbilly." While it is the snappy lyrics that initially catch most attention on'Lipchitz', subsequent playings of the album display a band of huge talent. On the last two tracks of the album, the introspective 'Use Your Head' and blistering rock 'n' roll number, 'Go' (both of which were written specially for the independent film, 'Use Your Head', which he also co-wrote) , Huss, whose guitarwork and vocals remain constantly solid throughout the recording, appears as a solo act, backed by Lipchitz's producer Pete Weiss on bass and a small team of Boston musicians including Dana Colley from 'Morphine' on saxophone. The remaining thirteen of the fifteen tracks feature the other two members of The Moderate Combo, J. Niimi on drums and John Greenfield on bass, both who provide strong, steady back-up throughout the CD, and who carrying many of the tunes between them, seem effortlessly able to flit their instruments from musical genre to genre. The band's abilities and range are perhaps shown off best together on three instrumentals which appear on the album. 'Theme for Lee' is a one minute introspective mood piece, which sounds like the main theme tune for a detective or spy series on television. 'Juan Campoverde' is Eastern-flavoured and features Huss on electric sitar, while the jazzy 'Braying Mantis', which lurches and accelerates suddenly between fast and slow beats, has a genuine feel of dread and menace. This is that rarest of things, a comedy album which manages to be a whole lot more than a comedy album, and which by both musical genre swopping and daring to experiment has a real depth and longer-lasting appeal than than many other 'funny' albums. 'Lipchitz' is both a challenging and a throughly enjoyable experience, and makes a most impressive debut.



Track Listing:-
1 Millennium
2 Dad Sold His Sax
3 You're So Basic
4 Juan Campoverde
5 How Can You Say There's No God When ..
6 Suburbilly
7 Office Work
8 Theme For Lee
9 Tire Tool
10 Braying Mantis
11 Whaliens
12 Pus / So What
13 Rockin' At A Hyde Park Party
14 Bonus Tracks
15 Use Your Head
16 Go



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interviews


Interview (2002)
John Huss Moderate Combo - Interview
John Huss is the vocalist, guitarist and songwriter in his own group "The John Huss Moderate Combo', which he formed in 1993, after a decade of playing off and on both in other bands and as a solo ac


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