Savage Folk and Primitive Blues
I've always liked David Griffith's songwriting and performing whenever he is able to come down from the mountains to perform at our Concerts. So I eagerly awaited the chance to review his new CD. He goes under the pseudonym Saucepan Bach and the album is titled 'Savage Folk & Primitive Blues'. A professionally, though simply done CD cover and case belie the quality of the material within, yet adds to the mystique of the artist (James Bridle, our past President was the graphic designer). Once you realise that David has artists of the standard of Bob Spencer (Of Angels fame) you start to get an idea that this is a package to be taken very seriously indeed.
Even from the first native drum beats and gong of 'Medicine Woman' you sense the atmosphere of an extremely talented writer and performer. The sound mix is also superb and stunning, with a great combination of acoustic and bass guitar. If you could image Cat Stevens having a laid back blues bent then you will get an idea of David's unique, yet brilliant vocal style, which really cuts through. The song itself has a top hook line, with an early Fleetwood Mac tone, while the backing female vocals are fantastic, adding a certain ambience. The sax solos are nothing short of stunning, with an Arabic feel. Great song!
'Black Dog Mood' starts off with some bluesy acoustic riffs behind some skiffle type drums, and then the vocals floor you with their tone and emotion. The female backing singer again does a superb job giving the song a Black Sorrows feel. Great New Orleans' guitar leads over a blues/jazz tinged background - reminded me in part of 'Black Velvet' in its tones. As usual with David's material it had great hooks.
Great rocking acoustic guitar started 'Can This Be Love', whose vocal's had a real tonal edge to them - fantastic! Once again brilliant backing vocals and impressive lead breaks. The hook chorus definitely embeds itself in the brain, while the driving feel powers the song along. The lighter parts of the song added that special touch, while the horns were a genius' thoughts.
'Nota Bene' started with a simple acoustic guitar and a slight calypso feel. A real contrast to the last song, though with the same stunning vocals from David and the backing singer. Good dymanics and impressive changes add that something to the song. I really liked the middle eight.
David uses interesting vocal phrasings over acoustic guitar at the beginning of 'Gaze In Your Eyes', then the drums kick in with a full tilt calypso feel a la 'Fly Down To Rio' feel. A South American style love song? The heavy changes added that extra interest, with use of great dynamics. I really love David's lyrics and wish he'd put them on the CD's cover: "I'm not Florence Nightingale, Is this a surprise? But I will burn a candle for you." The Aquarius ending demonstrating David's sense of fun.
A deep bass under insistent drums, followed by David's prowling, growling vocals makes one salivate for the sound of 'Hunger'. Reminds me in part of some of Chain's 80's material (Child of the Street). I love the lead riffs and those great backing vocals. Great bass/drums solo. Fantastic song once again.
One of my favourite songs, even before I had heard the CD, was 'Volcano Burning' with it's details of a raw, burning, emotional wound. The song is sung with a heartfelt feel and passionate tone. A slight calypso edge as well. Great lyrics once again: "The sky ain't blue, Every colour but that." Bloody great, especially as it stays haunting your thoughts for quite a time after you hear it.
'Cry On My Heart' has a real 'Albatross' feel to it, with the song soaring and swooping like a bird on the glide, and the tall masts of a lone sailing ship on a high breeze. The vocal harmonies were fantastic.
The next song really grows on you as it has a different lyric bent, a skiffle like rhythm, yet is country with jazz tinges. Once you feel comfortable with that the bass kicks in on the second verse, and I had a feeling of Freddy Fender meeting the blues. Then the superb slide adds the spice to the next verse, continuing the great buildup. Though it is still laid back, but there is a powerful undercurrent carrying the listener forward. Then the piece de resistance a reed organ comes in the last verse culminating in one of the best musical builds I've yet heard in a song. Wow! Stunning stuff!
'Hick It Up' is rock'n'roll at it's best, especially the rolling down under bass. Nick Lowe would have loved this. I especially like the animal growling 'wah wah' vocals. Top backing vocals once again. If Cat Stevens had rocked this is how he would have done it.
The light drums, acoustic guitar, and gravelly vocals of the start of 'Sing Your Name' had me thinking of Waylon Jennings, till the Angle's like fuzz guitar, bass, and drums kicked in. Fan-bloody-tastic! A real surprise. Loved that sweet clean slide guitar cutting over top of the mix. The song had a anguished ache of loneliness and Baby Animals' influences. Great work!
I love the rhythmic feel of 'Such Is Man'. The South American drum beats behind the rock drumming and the deep heavy bass was almost demon driven. Savage folk and primitive blues push this with the energy of a Voodoo priest incanting strange philosophies. You can almost hear the tribal screams, which is echoed in the grunting animalistic leads at the song's end, like a wild beast screaming in the jungles of the mind. You might say I really like this song.
From the starting countdown we come into a world of 70's arena style rock in the song 'Please Be Real'. Loud, brash and dynamic, there are touches of Cheap Trick and Jethro Tull in the unleashing of this one.
'Walk The Precipice' has a lighter tone, but the bass drives you to the cliffs of emotion. I have that sense of Chain once again, but that's probably David's superb vocals and the background blues feel.
Well after listening to this album probably twenty times so far, and playing to all my mates, I can honestly say this is one of the best albums I've heard in the Society. If you like a Cat Steven's style of vocal delivery, with a blues base, then you are a bloody idiot if you don't go out and buy this album. Hopefully David will once again grace our stages and he might bring along a few copies of the album, as Molly Meldrum would say "Do yourself a favour....." You might guess which album I'd vote album of the year for 1998, then again there were so many great albums it might be worthwhile if I listen to them all again!
written by Gavin Fitzgerald for "The Songsmith" monthly magazine, Sydney, Australia.
Whose say so
http://www.nighttimes.com/nt_main.asp?aID=627 Going Underground Dec. '04 By Kevin Mathews 12/28/2004 6:23:57 PM
Saucepan Bach Whose Say So (Self released) www.saucepanbach.com
If squeezed, I might venture to suggest that Saucepan Bach plays a space country rock that is reminiscent of Neil Young, Flaming Lips and Summerteeth-era Wilco. But ignore the labels and just enjoy the great music--from the John Cale (circa Vintage Violence)--channeling ““Meaning”” to the grinding ““How Long Say”” and to the sinister ““Fall To Grace”” –– Whose Say So is an underground gem.
Gavin Fitzgerald 'The Songsmith' Australia
Saucepan Bach, alias David Griffith, has a new CD on the market at the moment. It's called "Whose Say So" and enlists the talent of Bob Spencer (Ex-Angels) who both play on and produced the album. It has a great cover, which has all lyrics inside, and top art work. The album was recorded in both Katoomba and Melbourne with all the songs written by David.
The first song is called "Meaning" and starts off with a persuasive drum beat and David's vintage vocals over a strummed acoustic guitar. Then the band kicks in to give the song an almost Gospel feel which is very emotive. The production is stunning and really empowers David's voice. I like the mandolin that sits behind the mix but adds a great flavour. It's has a certain 'Tubular Bells" atmosphere that lifts the song. Great start to the album!
Next up we have the song "Overflow", which is a lot rockier though still very full. An almost mex-calypso jazz touch with David's vocals smooth over the top. His vocal tone is so good that it glides through this one so effortlessly. The background female vocals make me think of some of Eric Clapton's mixes, while the song reminds me of Michael Nesmith's '70s material. The later vocal mix over the 'Happy Birthday' section returns to a Gospel feel. Makes me wonder if the song should have been called "So Happy Birthday" as it is definitely the song's hook. Ends off with some nice light acoustic guitar like a sunset of music.
"Communion" starts off with a piano accordion sounding keyboard that lends a Celtic flavour to the start of the song. David's vocals have a really full timbre and resonance that blend well with this start. As well the great lyrics and melody line flow like mist around mystic mountains. There is a religious tone to the essence of this song though the communion is more that of sharing between peoples. The bass line gives this song a lot of depth. I really like how David uses unique vocal inflections to emphasise the song's emotions, which further adds that Celtic touch. The vocal pronunciation when the drums kick in adds a great dramatic effect. This one would do well in the American Christian market, though it isn't necessarily a religious song. The outro's accordion keyboard has a real lift to it.
There is a AC/DC essence to the start of "How Long Say" with its insistent guitar riff although it's done on the acoustic guitar. Then the drums and bass kick in true Aussie rock style. The vocal style is like a mix all of ZZ Top and Midnights Oil. The rhythm mix and production really moves along. I love the bass work behind the 'I feel like a fool' section as it really drives. The mandolin makes a surprise revisit as the lead instrument before the harmonic cuts in. The two instruments truly work well together with the heavy rhythm. I feel that the song's title should be "I Feel Like A.." as those lines really hook me in. The song pumps with a nice bluesy evocation! Then a dirty distorted lead comes in cranking with feedback till the surprise ending with David on acoustic. I like this one as it has a whole swag of goodies for the listener.
"Fall To Grace" starts off with a minor progression and grungy tone. Then David's voice comes in full of conviction and Dylan-esc lyrics. A song very much in the style of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as it is atmospheric and moody until it lifts into the chorus of "Not a cloud in the sky". A song of juxtapositions of the down mood and the uplifting presence. The lyrics are full of depth and meaning. I like the lead guitar as it resonates with the material. Evocative and pensive in both word and melody. Has tones of Fleetwood Mac and Jefferson Airplane in there as well.
The start to "The Voice In My Head" has a hypnotic dance beat sense to it. Over this David has a growling country vocal, accompanied by acoustic guitar. Down to earth means the city? Once again the lyrics have a real catch to them. Then a South American flavour enters the mix as the rest of the instruments come in for full sound. I like the chorus of "And hello, and hello, and hello.." as is very catchy. That's one thing about David songs is that they always stick your head. I like the little back ground lead guitar that has a country twang to it with the Mexican style song. Good dramatics in this song with its banquet of tastes.
There is a Western folk feel to the start of "Whose Say So". You can definitely feel that David emphasises the emotions he is expressing in his material. The warmth of the tones and the expression of the lyrics would make any listener want to sing in harmony. Great backing harmonies that give extra depth and a character to the song. There are traces with of Neil Diamond during 'Hot August Night' in the vocal quality. The main hook line is 'Where ever I go/Wither I go' as it embeds itself in the subconscious, especially with the bass pre-chorus. Great classic sleeper song.
"Don't Make It Unkind" starts of with military drumming, a la The Doors' "Unknown Soldier", and background 'bells'. Then David's vocal melody comes in full in a Jim Morrison a Capella style of vocal. The simplicity of the backing music adds to the vocal, especially the guitar with effects on it. I like Belinda's backing vocals as they are a great flavouring in the mix. I'm also reminded by this song of Chain's "Black And Blue" as "Don't Make It Unkind" has an underlying bluesiness. When the bass kick in it is very effective and takes a song to another direction. The Queen-like synth build adds great dynamics and lifts the listener. Once again another corker!
A plain acoustic guitar starts off "Started Off Low" which is soon followed by insistent distant bongos. Flowing, rhythmical lyrics and vocal grab the ears with the immediate hook line of 'Started off low'. Once again the simplicity of the backing really brings the vocals to the fore and adds to the song rather than takes away from it. Each verse builds the song with new instruments. The vocal tone and feel reminds me of the Talking Heads with a blues edge. Then whoa the bass and drums kick in like a power driven surge after two minutes into the song. Top stuff as it is totally unexpected. Love that feedback style of guitar going crazy in the background while the bass just growls. Then after a minute of this is drops back to the acoustic guitar, with a little lead, before it rocks out once again behind David's vocal. Really catchy production behind a top song. You'd nod you head along with this one! Then into a synth and lead guitar mix that raves and rages. I like the line "Take none for the trouble, take none for the pain", but I really wanted to hear "Started off low" again. A lot of light and shade in this song which is quite long at seven and a half minutes, which a lot of aural soundscapes. However, I'd have loved another return to "Started off low" as by the end you were hanging out for that line. Good song to end the CD on though.
Overall I feel that Saucepan Bach has bettered his last effort in leaps and bounds. A very commercial viable product that covers a number of musical moods and all of them well. David has a definite style that is all his own, which combines great songwriting with his natural prowess as an emotive singer, and these talents are emphasised by the superb production. You should be proud of this one, David, and I hope this breaks it for you as this CD deserves a great listen.