Jim Ladd's "Headsets" project, a collaboration with ex-Yes man Billy Sherwood, has yielded an album Chapter 1: Alone Out Here, which is a modern fable about searching for God, partly narrated by Ladd with music supplied (written and played) mainly by Sherwood. It's a project that doesn't quite make the grade.
My brief promotional notes say that Jim is a "legendary rock-n-roll DJ". American readers will have to be the judge of that - being from the UK, I've not heard of him before. However, I can vouch for the significant life-enhancing impact that DJs can have on rock fans, as one of the UK's "legendary" DJs, John Peel, did for me. He broadcast in a flat, deadpan voice but possessed a wonderful, very dry and very English sense of humor. Over thirty years or so he was responsible for introducing me to much excellent music. I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of his death, travelling from Hunterston Power Station back to Glasgow airport for an evening flight home after a business trip. At the time, my wife and I were debating whether I should give up my very well paid job with a big power producer to help her run her kennel business from home. We were undecided as to what to do because of the financial risks involved in cutting links with a stable employer. John's untimely death was the spur I needed - I made the decision there and then in the car on the way to the airport - life is too short, too precious to fritter away - so I now work from home and have a much fuller enjoyment of life than I would otherwise have had. Thanks John, may your memory live on.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, it is relevant....you see, unless you have a similar emotional bond with Jim Ladd then you should steer clear of this album. Even then, I doubt that there will be many people, fans of Jim Ladd included, who will give this disc more than a couple of spins.
It's not that it's unpleasant. In fact, the music is consistently melodic and pleasant, but uninspiringly so. The overall feel of the album is insipid, and is lifted only by two moments that rise above this blandness. The first is the tribal drum solo, played by John Densmore of The Doors on "Finding Our Way" and the second, the only time that the pace rises on the whole album, the excellent guitar work on the title track itself, "Alone Out Here". I suppose that my disappointment in this album is made more acute by virtue of the fact that the previous album that I reviewed here, Billy Sherwood's own At the Speed of Life, is excellent and I expected similar from the music on Alone Out Here given the size of Billy's contribution to it.
Other than Jim and Billy's original words and music, the album also includes reworkings of Yes's "Universal Garden" and "Lonesome Trail", The Rolling Stones's "2,000 Light Years From Home", as well as "One World Going Round" from World Trade Euphoria. Unfortunately, these "names" are unable to raise the album above average, save for the two exceptions noted and it remains an album for insomniacs.
If you are interested in buying it, please note that it is only available from the artist's website.
1) Remnants of Creation (Part 1) (0:29)
2) The Launch (0:22)
3) We Are Sailors (6:39)
4) Reaching for the Stars (1:49)
5) Sons of Our Sons (4:04)
6) The Mission (0:50)
7) The Lonesome Trail (7:20)
8) Finding Our Way (2:44)
9) Universal Garden (3:52)
10) The Family Business (0:12)
11) Alone Out Here (4:09)
12) System Failure (1:56)
13) Reflections (3:23)
14) Message From Home (2:53)
15) 2,000 Light Years From Home (3:19)
16) Perspective (1:57)
17) Melancholy Deity (4:34)
18) Remnants of Creation (1:21)
19) One World Going Round (4:18)