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THE CHRIS BERGSON BAND – Imitate the Sun – review by Del Rey

by GFats on June 2, 2011

THE CHRIS BERGSON BAND

Imitate The Sun

review by Del Rey

Here in California where the state bird is a satellite dish and what passes for creativity in entertainment appears in the form of the latest lip-sync dance group specializing in choreographed crotch-grabbing, there exists a San Andreas-sized fault line separating the common from the extraordinary.

While very little crotch-grabbing occurs on the album, I reckon Chris Bergson Band’s newest release, Imitate The Sun, lands somewhere in the middle of that great rolling divide, a solid effort produced by an ensemble of competent musicians performing various and sundry Blues sub-genres with tic-tock efficiency.

The album comprises both originals and covers that feed on standard-issue Blues progressions, elements of Little Feat’s funkier fare complete with horn lines, some period pieces reminiscent of CCR’s brand of down-home Americana, and even a tear-stained ballad or two.

The best of the album’s self-penned tunes is the title track, “Imitate The Sun,” with its downward chord progression that Bergson builds to a multi-layered guitar crescendo.

In fact the album derives much of its charm from Bergson’s guitar playing, which is remarkably tasteful.  His solos come in bursts of tone and nuance that compliment rather than over-reach, a hybrid of sustain and twang that colors the aural landscape around him.

A barrelhouse version of “Dust My Broom” is among a handful of covers that prove somewhat tastier than the original material thanks in large part to superior songwriting, though Bob Dylan’s, “Standing in the Doorway” from his Time Out Of Mind release, remains a plodding track that runs unnecessarily long.

The best song on the album harkens back to the turn of the 20th Century.  “You’ve Been A Good Old Wagon” is credited in the liner notes as having been written by one, John Henry.  Only slightly familiar with the tune but entirely unacquainted with the author, a background check turns up, “You’ve Been A Good Old Wagon, But You Done Broke Down,” as being first published in 1895 by American ragtime entertainer, Ben Harney.

Regardless of which is correct, the song is an absolute gem, its tuneful melody carried along by an old-time piano that sounds true to the era.  The lyrics are spun with equal parts humor and sadness, the musical equivalent of a good-bye letter that Bergson delivers in a dead-on impersonation of Randy Newman, who built a career on just this sort of musical motif.

Whether by design or simply the result of unintended happenstance, Chris Bergson and his band have seen fit to produce an album that would appeal to a common denominator of Blues enthusiasts.  By providing a little something for every one, Imitate The Sun neither offends, nor inspires yet it does satisfy in that it strives to be art and not product, and that gesture alone renders it a noble undertaking.

One Comment
  1. Thanks all for the great review. Chris will be performing June 23 at Johnny D’s in Somerville. Please join him for a great night of music.

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