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Drake, Bob: The Shunned Country

One of the main ideas for this album was to temporarily satisfy my desire to make very short songs. – Bob Drake

'Twas no jest: there are fifty-two separate tracks on this CD (see below), boot-jammed into a canister only forty minutes deep. Save for two fleeting instances of an acoustic guitar not played by Drake, the author of The Shunned Country is responsible for every sound, every instrument (guitar, banjo, bass, percussion on select non-conventional surfaces) and more often than not sings in a pitch that will link him to Jon Anderson, of all people. The 12-page booklet catches your eye instantly — it's loaded with classy, old-school full-color illustrations by Ray O'Bannon that accompany the lyrical concepts, from "Puppy" — he's four feet tall / his eyes glow red / and he walks through walls — to "Limerick Composed In A Dream," wherein the Thing in the story — well, why spoil it. Musically, this isn't even all over the map, nor is it as wacky as anticipated. Each piece — vignette, rather — is concise, sometimes to the point of nigh-frustration — case in point, the opening of "A Certain Slab," which really could have, and should have, been fleshed out into something. Many an idea is stashed away, but as when one rummages through an old trunk, each antique is regarded for but a moment, before moving on to the next, looking over what requires a good polishing. As you can tell, many of these tracks don't even approach a hard minute at full gallop ("Toolshed" and "Bad Reputation" are under fifteen seconds, f'r instance). And yet banjo lovers are going to love this, because Drake picks it up, plenty, "The Cloud – Introduction" being the chief banjo cut here, though it delves into chaos, consistent with the rest. Whether this is labeled horror rock or nightmare pop, The Shunned Country (great title) is darned interesting, even if the novelty of recited-camp-horror-with-musical-backing will likely wear off after several listens. So does all this yield the inevitable powder keg finale preceded by the chewing-down of six-point-one-six fingernail edges? Don't look at me; I'm just the reviewer.


1. The Shunned Country: An Introduction
2. Something Was Wrong Down There At The Graveyard
3. Just Ask Mr. Smith
4. Toolshed
5. Bad Reputation
6. Hand Of Saint Anne
7. The Megalith Of Forgotten Purpose
8. Rot Of The Stars
9. The Tunnels
10. Nobody Knows What To Do
11. House By The Swamp
12. By Then It Was Much Too Late
13. Ash Tree – First Movement
14. Ash Tree – Second Movement
15. A Certain Slab
16. Profound Musings
17. The Flopper
18. Puppy
19. They All Told Him Not To Plow That Certain Field
20. Another Abandoned Farmhouse
21. The Crumbling Of The Monuments
22. House In The Dreary Hills
23. Yeah
24. Song Made Whilst Awaiting A Summer Thunderstorm Which Never Arrived Χ
25. Ask Anybody Around There
26. The Sun Slants Strangely
27. The Cloud – Introduction Χ
28. The Cloud
29. The Dynamistograph
30. Miracle
31. The Text On The Cover Of Nandor Fodor's "Encyclopedia Of Psychic Science"
32. They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
33. Bear
34. Modest Listing Of Some Haunted Places
35. The Hounds
36. It Has No Name Χ
37. October 22 1910, Paris
38. Another Unusual Cloud
39. Yet Another Unusual Cloud
40. Treatise On The Natural History Of The Animal Life Of The Mississippi Valley
41. The Cruncher In Semi-Darkness
42. Notebook Found In Deserted Hotel
43. Splishing Χ
44. The Persecuting Engine
45. Lo, The Colour
46. Limerick Composed In A Dream
47. The Thing On The Roof
48. November 18 1911, Paris
49. Kaziah's Pet
50. The Shunned Country Theme
51. Your Visit To The Shunned Country Χ
52. The Shunned Country Coda –Or– A Bit Of Last Minute Advice

Χ = instrumental

Running time – 40:36

Added: September 13th 2005
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
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Hits: 2279
Language: english

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