Joe Armstrong's New CD: Silverfaced Champs
CD Review: Joe Armstrong, "Silverfaced Champs"
Every once in a while a CD comes across my desk that is extraordinary. Truly extraordinary! Joe Armstrong's latest release is just such a recording. It is a serious Rock and Roll album. Classic and fresh all at once. The songwriting is superb, and the music is incredibly thoughtful, well composed, and arranged so that each and every track is rich and complex. But it is still very accessible. And it seriously ROCKS! I know many of you are tired-and-true folk fans. But if you have even the slightest inclination toward indie, alt, or classic rock… you will LOVE this recording.
Joe spent more than four years laboriously recording, arranging, and mixing this disc. In addition to the usual guitars, bass and drum section, there is a 22-piece string arrangement, gospel choirs, Hammond organs, mandolins, and some chord changes and melodic twists that will surprise and delight the true connoisseur.
From the first track to the last note, Joe's record is a tremendous multicourse meal of sound and rhythm, lyric and poetry, melody and arrangement. It has instantly become one of those records that will be in my car for years. I cannot recommend it enough. Artful, inventive, beautifully produced, and full of surprises! Here are the lyrics from the opening cut, "Heaven."
If you want to go to heaven but you think you don't know how
You said you heard some good things
About a place called heaven
Then I think you should go right now
We spend too much time thinking about heaven
And lost in our hometown
Angels will show you the way back to heaven
If you just look around
There's a hundred thousand frozen hungry saviors
And they sleep out in the park
It's been a couple thousand years since they told us to wait here
But the man who spreads the word is in the dark
There's a time and place for everything here in heaven
There's a time to pay the bills and wash your car
Just pick up your kids and tell them how much you love them
And you just might find that heaven is where you are
From here, Armstrong takes us on a rocket-ride through personal and societal growth, struggle, loss, triumph, and love finally landing with the song "Seven More Stars." It is a song of gentle honor for those that dream, for seven NASA astronauts who gave their lives for a dream. And it is a lullaby of hope that we can all have those dreams for which we will give everything we have, and then surrender in humility and serenity to the forces beyond our control.
Flying on paper wings
The blue ball is a fragile thing
You gave your lives to stay there
With the stars tonight
We dreamed we'd fly
To dream is life
Here goes all ye mortal men
And heroes seldom reach the end
I'd give my life to stay there
With your stars tonight
As Joe Armstrong launches this record, he too surrenders to dreams yet unfolding. He launches this ship into the unknown, and hopes it will travel to celestial destinations beyond his own solar system. And I hope it does too! It is a fantastic record that honors the roots of Rock and Roll, but carries the genre and traditions forward in new and exploratory ways with great success. Well done Mr. Armstrong, well done!
For more info on Joe Armstrong, or to order the CD "Silverfaced Champs" go to:
Kim & Reggie Harris