Thursday, September 27, 2012

Robert John Gallo - interested in a concept album based on the life on Edgar Cayce ?

Another tax scam release ...    Yes, this one's credited to A New Place To Live, but for all intents and purposes it's a Robert John Gallo release with studio backing from singer Joey Carbon and guitarist Richard Zito of Sounds of Modification fame.   As an added bonus, radio/television personality John Zacherly  recited the poetic segments.   Written, arranged, conducted, and produced by Gallo 1972's "A New Place To Live" was also  released on Gallo's Mandala label.  Quite an industrious guy !!!

A concept piece seemingly based on American psychic Edgar Cayce and a bizarre mixture of ecological concerns, history, religion, social commentary, and probably way too many illicit substances, the album sported one of the strangest plotlines I've come across. To quote the liner notes:  "Due to recent occurrences in the world, I would like to bring your attention to my concept album " A New Place To Live".  Written by Robert John Gallo more than two year ago.  Its meaning and significance take on a frightening yet truthful aspect now that the earthquakes and other disturbing occurrence of nature have begun."  Some of you will swear I'm makin' this stuff up. I'm not and I've gone to the extra step of embedded the song-by-song liner note comments along with my own thoughts:

- "Side one opens briefly with the poem 'A New Place To Live' depicting the creation of this planet and how it will destroy itself."  The title track opened up with a nice atmospheric instrumental section, before shifting over to an extended spoken word segment.  Backed by some tacky sound effects (ticking clock, theremin, explosions), John Zacherly managed to somehow keep a straight face while setting the stage for what was to come.   It actually sounded a bit like Captain T. Kirk spouting some sort of campy Federation manifesto.   The song ended with a rock-cum-progressive tinged segment.  rating: ** stars
- "We move to the first cut which is about the prophet Edgar Cayce who made the prediction many year ago of a disruption in the San Gabriel Mountains - which did occur recently.  The prophet is attempting to warn the people about this disaster but had no success."  Say what you will about this project, Joey Carbone had a nice voice and managed to get through the pop-tinged 'Go Away From Here' with his dignity intact.  One of the most accessible and enjoyable tracks on the album.   rating: **** stars
- "The next tune takes place at the present time along the Eastern Coast of the United States.  The song 'Summertime In The Winter' is self explanatory."   Kicked along by some tasty Rich Zito acoustic guitar and another poppy Carbone vocal, 'Summertime In The Winter' blended another highly commercial melody with some of the album's darkest lyrics.   rating: **** stars
- "The fourth cut on this side reminds us of the Atlantis legend - that when the end came only a few people were mart enough to escape via the sea route thus bringing 'Standing On The Edge Of An Island' into focus."   Okay, I'll admit that I never would have gotten than message out of this bouncy slice of cocktail jazz tinged pop.    rating: ** stars
- "The last song is about the pollution problem (which we are all aware of) and how the atmosphere, because it is so full of garbage is cutting off our only supply of heat and light; the sun.  End of side one."    Okay, the message may have lacked a bit of subllty, but 'When You Wake Up In The Morning' had a good heart, some biting Zito fuzz guitar, and a bouncy bubblegum-ish melody that would have let you overlook other shortcomings were it not for the totally unnecessary country segment that popped up in the middle of the tune.    rating: ** stars
- "Side two begins with 'The Dream Poem'  the state in which Edgar Cayce and man originally derived all their basic thoughts.   The Dream Poem shows how most occurrences in dreams actually do come to pass.  In relation to our story one subject has a nightmare about the "end" which he feels is relevant and soon to come."   Zacherly's back with another extended spoken word segment that ends in what I'd imagine sounds like a bad acid trip, complete with trippy sound effects, echoy vocal snippets, and other goofy touches.   Curiously the track listing doesn't even show this track.   rating: ** stars
- "The first song to follow the poem 'The Dream Stage'  is the part of man's life when he is awake yet not concious."  I won't comment on the lyrical content (it is what it is), but musically this one offered up a cool slice of '60 pop-psych influences.   One of my picks for stand out performance.   rating: **** stars
- "The second cut 'Easy Does It' explains the idea of an escape route or pattern to those who do believe."   Had it been recorded for a conventional album, 'Easy Does It' probably wouldn't have made much of an impression, but here the combination of pop hook, Greek-flavored instrumentation (wonder if Zito was actually playing a balakaika ...)    rating: **** stars
- "The third tune suggests the Moon as a possible escape spot - thus 'The Moon Tune'."   Showcasing Zito's fuzz guitar, 'The Moon Tune' was another sterling pop tune, marred by some truly goofy lyrics.   I can only hope that Carbone was paid well for his efforts.   This one would have sounded good on the Carbone-Zito "Snowball" album.    rating: **** stars
- Now we leave what is so far fact and continue without frightening sojourn into realism.  The people finally put our prophet in jail because he is the cause of mass confusion among the world's population.  In this selection 'To the Jailhouse' he sees the end clearly and exclaims "When these walls come tumbling down, then I'll be free !  Yes, I'll be free."   Another nice pop tune with a bouncy country tinge that would have been far better had it been written and recorded a straightforward pop tune.   rating: *** stars
- "Following the jailhouse scene is the prayer to the heavens.  It seems that when all else fails we always look up to God - as a last resort.  But it is too late for the prophet (who was actually a messenger of a sort  from the heavens), and his warning have gone by unheeded.  Thus all prayers go unheard as the thunder starts and the end begins.  The earth crumbles; armies fighting; mass confusion.  All of which is occurring presently.  The end is evident and out prophet who had somehow hoped to save the old world is now hoping to find a new and pure world - a new place to live.  'Finali (Oh Dear God)' was another track that didn't show on the track listing.  It started out sounding like a Gregorian chant and ended with another Zacherly spoken word segment and a slew of backward tapes and sound effects.   Not exactly the most cheerful ending you could have imagined.  rating: *** stars

I own a couple of Gallo's solo albums and this one is unlike any of those other releases.   This one is simply so strange that it almost qualifies as a classic ...   image an aural version of  Edward D. Wood' Planet 9  From Outer Space.  At the same time, several of these song were remarkably catchy and commercial.  Released as part of a more conventional album, they could have attracted considerable commercial attention.

For what its worth, Cayse's an interesting guy.  There's a nice bio on Wikipedia at:

"A New Place To Love" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) A New Place To Live   (John Robert Gallo) - 6:40
2.) Go Away From Here   (John Robert Gallo) - 2:28
3.) Summertime In The Winter   (John Robert Gallo) - 3:14
4.) Standing On The Edge Of An Island   (John Robert Gallo) - 3:435.) When You Wake Up In The Morning   (John Robert Gallo) - 3:15

(side 2)
1.) Dreams   (John Robert Gallo) -
2.) The Dream Stage   (John Robert Gallo) - 7:25
3.) Easy Does It   (John Robert Gallo) - 2:03
4.) The Moon Tune   (John Robert Gallo) - 2:405.) Oh This Jailhouse   (John Robert Gallo) - 7:04
6.) Finali (Oh Dear God)   (John Robert Gallo) -

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