Sunday, May 11, 2003

Planet Dan

The arrival of a new Dan album provides the perfect pretext for the cognoscenti to break out the hats and hooters and rev up the motor scooters.

Now it's nine immaculate alien artefacts, polished to perfection and unleashed on an unworthy world. Add in Fagen's magna opera The Nightfly & Kamakiriad and you've got a first eleven capable of capturing the World Cup of Cool.

A statutory prohibition should be placed upon Dan reviews until such time as the reviewer has adequately assimilated their latest languorous, languid, bittersweet, blissful, cryptic, cynical, entrancing, encoded communiqué into the bloodstream.

Like love affairs Don & Walt’s work can only be evaluated and contextualized in retrospect. As assuredly as ephemeral lipstick traces mutate into life's lingering leitmotifs, the Dan’s spectral melodies and enigmatic lyrics haunt past, present and future, defying definition.

As Pretzel Logic suggests, it’s time for a retrospective trip round Planet Dan, Don & Walt’s off-world theme park: Your Kamakiri awaits. Lock the cool rolling bubble into samba mode and let our guide, Senor Trip Star, take the strain. Drop me off in Groove time, amigo.

Memo to the Carmaker Corporation : We could sure use a routing satellite with a personal touch. I miss my old chauffeur Ernie’s easy smile and well-honed homilies. I never really bargained on a profound thinker but here he comes; moving’ to the beat, speaking’ in tongues. Ernie knows Planet Dan like the back of his hand. One of Don & Walt’s “Cabs to the Stars” guys. Typical Ernie:

Avoid that Barry town beat, boys. Over there in Barry town they do things very strange. I picked up this fare the other day. Wanted me to take him to The Netherlands. Coulda sworn he said the Netherworld.

In the sales pitch they told me I could expect to, and I quote, “crawl like a viper through these suburban streets, make love to these women languid and bittersweet”. Yeah, right! First job I get is to deliver a consignment of bodacious cowboys to The Custerdome.

I been all over Planet Dan : The Manitee Bar, Laughing Pines, Cape Sincere, Club Hi Ho (that junction between Bleak and Divine is a beaut) then I get this: Proceed from Shielus to the Reefs of Kizmar, Stargate to the Outer Worlds.

Who do these clowns think I am? Some kinda Philip K. Dickless wonder?

I ain’t budgin’ from the foot of Mt. Belzoni without Don & Walt’s personal say so. The Trans-island Skyway is a dangerous place I can tell you, amigo.

Until I hear different I’m gonna stick to my usual route: Magnolia Boulevard, Biscayne Bay, Café D’Escargot, Slow Hand Row, you know the rest.

Still, I guess you heard the news? They say Cathy Barberian finally sang that roulade. It came as a relief to us all, I can tell you.

A pair of geeky jazz-punk hipster subversives name their band after a dildo in a Bill Burroughs novel and proceed to smuggle nuggets of brilliantly barbed ironic content into the rock mainstream. Don & Walt fashion a deceptively smooth sound, betraying both unimpeachable musicality and a Bacharach-like ability to render the most complex, shape-shifting arrangements accessible to the listener, by utilising basic magician’s misdirection: cranking the hook factor up to 11. Sweet sentiment-free sarcasm and mellifluous misanthropy covertly couriered on butterfly wings direct to the mainstream. Popular musical stealth bombs, lovingly adopted by lounge singers and execrable jazz-funk outfits witlessly claiming improbable kinship with our faux-bland revolutionaries.

A neat summation of Don & Walt’s Âge D'or?

Sharing the things we know and love with those of my kind,
Libations, sensations, to stagger the mind
should suffice.

I’m only just starting to get a handle on 2vN and you want me to wax lyrical about Everything Must Go already? Hell, Gaucho’s Time Out of Mind only revealed it’s latest exquisite core of meaning last weekend when that fragile, precious, vulnerable, beautiful blonde and I diversified our emotional investment portfolio by supplementing gilt-edged friendship with speculative raids into spirituality and physicality with delightful, delicious dividends.


A few months back : That deceptive first impression (for what it's worth) : Blues Beach: Kamakiriad deluxe; Things I Miss The Most : Stone cold classic, no argument; Slang of Ages : Next time you get the urge to croon, Walt...don't.
Definitive review to follow no time soon.

Now : That deceptive second impression (for what it’s worth) : The Last Mall : The Four Horsemen of the Gapocalypse ; Blues Beach: Kamakiriad deluxe ; Things I Miss The Most : stone cold classic, no argument; Slang of Ages : Next time you get the urge to croon, Walt...don't.
Definitive review to follow no time soon.

Hell, what can I do but review 2vN?

2vN finds Don & Walt locked in tight to a predatory groove : Hey Nineteen: The Sequel stretched membrane-thin over an entire album's duration.

Rock stars of a certain age can’t find solace in anything but the narcotic buzz of youth. Not in art, not in literature, not in music or drugs. Nothing can compare with a pretty nineteen year old’s streamlined vacuity. Nineteen glides through the world effortlessly. Noise free. No static at all. And when she goes she leaves almost nothing of herself. No vapour trail. No messy detritus of the psyche. A snapshot of grace, a frozen moment of perfection locked away from the malevolent influence of time’s idling assassin.

In 2vN Don & Walt sound a decade older, a decade more embittered. Kids today can barely remember Janet Jackson let alone 'Retha Franklin. The Dan's clipped, crystalline funk sounds ever more brittle and other-worldly. An alien artefact: Anaemic, extra-terrestrial Earth Wind & Ice doppelgangers jammin' Siberian-style; snare drum sounding crisp and dry as a winter morning in Tunguska, tighter than security at a Presidential motorcade.

What a Shame About Me : Yet another Dan “Here’s to the losers” anthem but instead of Deacon Blues' seductive outlaw chic ~I'll learn to work the saxophone, I'll play just what I feel, Drink Scotch whisky all night long, And die behind the wheel ~ we're treated to the unedifying sound of old men whining ~
I said babe you look delicious and you're standing very close, But this is like Lower Broadway, And you're talking to a ghost, Take a good look it's easy to see, What a shame about me.

Atypical Dan disdain for the Dionysian is a temporary aberration. Polymorphously perverse service is promptly resumed when barely post-pubescent Janie Runaway hops off the Tampa-NYC bus and strays straight into the predatory pair’s headlights. Post-Janie Don & Walt are still sizzling like Viagra-fuelled isotopes at the sight of yet another pulchritudinous playpal.

This Almost Gothic chick pure science with a splash of black cat succumbs to the cheesiest of chat up routines: You be the showgirl, I’ll be Sinatra, way back in ‘59.

The old ones are the best and Don & Walt are older, and, arguably, still better, than the rest combined.

Cousin Dupree is the Dan’s modest contribution to the canon of classic popular songs satirizing good ol' down home Southern fried incest and child molestation.

Straight from Cousin Dupree's frying pan into Negative Girl’s cold white flame, Don & Walt run the gamut of middle-aged men’s emotions from A to B.

Dupree’s killer dreary architecture of your soul line notwithstanding, this album is thematically moribund and lyrically uninspired. The Kamakiri’s on cruise control, locked in tight to a faux-ironic predatory groove.

Planet Prosaic populated by men of a certain age desperately searching for one last hedonistic fling before the prostate problems kick in. Sounds like New York City Penitentiary to me : Lower Broadway, Dean & Deluca, Gramercy Park, Bleecker Street. Where are those exotic destinations now? Ernie’s confined to the Big Apple these days.

Drop me off in Groovetime, Mr Borgnine, and don’t spare the horses.

Your chariot awaits, Snake.

Just like Ernie. A subtle deconstruction of Demetrius and the Gladiators via Escape from New York and still time for an easy smile and a well-honed homily. Happy retirement, fella.

eugene ionesco