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Adam Marsland - You Don't Know Me

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 17 / 11 / 2004



Adam Marsland - You Don't Know Me
Label: Karma Frog
Format: CD

intro

Excellent melodic pop rock on debut solo album from the relatively unknown Adam Marsland, which also features the talents of 60's icon Evie Sands and Brian Wilson's backing band the Wondermints


Probably like the majority of music fans in the U.K. I have to admit that no, I didn’t know of Adam Marsland, which is surprising as it turns out that Marsland was the mainstay of a power pop band called Cockeyed Ghost who released four studio albums since the mid 90's. But with ‘You Don’t Know Me’ Marsland’s first ‘solo’ record it’s certain his fame will spread well beyond America now. For those who were young enough in the 60's to still be able to remember them this album has a major attraction. Without wishing to take away any attention from the obvious talent of Adam Marsland seeing the name of 60's icon Evie Sands in the credits for this album certainly raised initial interest. Evie Sands is a criminally underrated 60’s chanteuse especially in the U.K. Best known for the original ‘Angel Of The Morning’ Sands has also composed songs for Beck and Barbra Streisand as well as appearing on the Brian Wilson tribute album ‘Caroline Now!’ and adding her vocal talent to the Wondermints’ ‘Mind If We Make Love To You’ album. A duet with Lucinda Williams on her 1999 album, ‘Women In Prison’, further proved that Sands, although always missing out on the acclaim she so rightly deserves, is well respected by other musicians even after all these years. Being a sucker for any record which is being touted as having Brian Wilson influences is one thing, seeing Evie Sands in the credits and also the names of Darian Sahanaja and Probyn Gregory from the Wondermints and members of the wonderful Negro Problem (Marsland although not appearing on their classic ‘’Post Minstrel Syndrome’ album did play on ‘’Joys And Concerns’ a couple of years later) helping out makes this a must play album. And after just that one play it’s clear that Marsland has made an outstanding solo debut. Taking the advice of the then unknown Weezer (who shared a garage studio with Marsland) to supplement his Beach Boys CDs “with a little Frank Black” Marsland struck it lucky by singing with the Wondermints on the night Brian Wilson made them his back-up band. Beginning to get the picture? But although Brian Wilson post 1966 hovers over this album it’s not so obvious as recent albums by other Wilson ‘sidemen’ like Jeffrey Foskett or Scott Bennett’s Dotted Line album. (Isn’t it strange how all these talented musicians who are making music with Brian Wilson are now actually releasing much better records than the master himself? Give me Foskett or the Dotted Line albums over ‘Getting’ In Over My Head’ any day and can any Beach Boy fan honestly say they prefer the ‘new’ ‘Smile’ over the much loved bootlegs we’ve all been playing through the years?). Marsland has created a unique sound mixing Wilson, Elton John, and echoes of his power pop past with the idiocy of say the Negro Problem. The Elton John connection has to be made; one listen to ‘What The Hell’ evokes memories of ‘Bennie And The Jets’ no less, although this is more down to the use of keyboards rather than any vocal resemblance between the two singers. The only disappointment with this album is that the lyrics are not included (we are directed to the website for those) as Marsland is a superb lyricist it’s a shame they weren’t included in the package. But that’s a minor quibble; this really is a great collection of songs. The opening song ‘You Don’t Know Me’ (like all the 12 songs here a Marsland original) features all of the above mentioned musicians; Sands, the Wondermints and members of the Negro Problem. As with all Marsland’s songs, it’s a musically complex composition very melodic and with lyrics that could well be Marsland disowning his own past, “Take back your straight jacket, take back your skinny tie, you may have got The Knack, but baby I’m not that guy…’cause you don’t know me”. The song ends abruptly and goes straight into ‘Love x 10 (How Dare You)’. With violin and cello leading the song before the full band come in and with Sands adding some fantastic vocals it’s an obvious highlight on the album. Marsland is on top form not only with the melody but with his cutting lyrics to a former lover. The third song, ‘The Big Bear’, changes direction again this time is an acoustic based ballad cut from the same cloth as the first two E albums ‘A Man Called E’ and ‘Broken Toy Shop’ before they morphed into the Eels. Anyone familiar with those albums will find much to enjoy on Marsland’s debut. It’s back to the keyboards for the next song, ‘Other Than Me’, with Marsland’s lyrics again raising a smile, “ I’m glad I never dated Aimee Mann and landed in the crease of a lyric sheet” and with Evie Sands lending some incredible backing vocals it’s one of the best songs on the album. Then Marsland takes another turn on the following ‘A Moment Of Clarity’ all steel guitar, mandolin and glockenspiel. With Stew and Heidi from The Negro Problem sharing lead vocals it’s the most heartbreaking and effecting song on the album and an unexpected surprise. The song is in complete contrast to ‘My Kickass Life’ the last but one song on the album. With all instruments played by Marsland (Sands does though contribute some electric guitar to the song) it’s a solid rocker detailing Marsland’s life. He may have been around for a while but for many like me this will be the first taste of Adam Marsland. And if future releases are just a shade as good as this album it won’t be long before every lover of melodic 70’s pop/rock will know Marsland’s name.



Track Listing:-
1 You Don't Know Me
2 Love x 10 (How Dare You)
3 The Big Bear
4 Other Than Me
5 A Moment of Clarity
6 What The Hell
7 Have A Nice Day
8 I Can't Do This Anymore
9 Stranger On The Street
10 What The World Needs Now Is A Good Deus Ex Machina
11 My Kickass Life
12 Thanks For Everything



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