Strike You Down
Son Powers ups the ante with even more cryptic and apocalyptic tunes-this time supercharged by legendary blues drummer Rob Piazza. On his second solo album Powers holds forth on topics as diverse as the wages of sin, foreordination, the pitfalls of loquacity, marital discord (and resulting eternal damnation), self-zombification, and astrophysics. And again, he did it exactly the way he wanted, including the Victor Moscoso inspired guitar art. 'Do The Best You Can' and ' If I Could Tell My Future' are very catchy - a quite strong blend of pop and blues. (ED: POWERS ADAMANTLY DISAVOWS ANY 'POP' LABEL) Also, the title track, 'Born To Sing The Blues,' 'Filibuster Blues,' and 'Send You Back To Satan' are fine blues-steeped numbers. All the tracks sound great and definitely reflect that Son Powers style. The 'real' drummer really brings the grooves together very well. (ED: BLUES LEGEND ROB PIAZZA PLAYED DRUMS) Great job on this new one!" --John Stevens, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music. "Son Powers' newest album "Strike You Down" is a real tire-smoker! My favorites are "Send You Back To Satan," "Do The Best You Can," and the Question Mark and the Mysterions-inspired "If I Could Tell My Future!" And lemme give a special Finkster shout-out to drummer Rob Piazza for his up-front stylings on "Crab Pulsar Blues." You both did a masterful job!" --Weldon McDowell, Jr., Master Modeler "Son Powers has done it again with his second album "Strike You Down." He's got the rhythm and the style. He's got the deep insightful lyrics. But mainly he's got the moxie to put out another damn recording designed to separate you from your money! And separate it will, because of the hypnotic trance you will fall into the minute you hear a note of this hyperbaric material. But the investment will pay off because of the deep meaningful insights you will receive into this all encompassing cosmic primordial "essence" of existence. To listen to these transcendental verses in the sense of unyielding singularity there must be a norm inherent in singularity itself, and to express such a norm that singularity is subjectivity and thus subjectivity is the truth, an idea that prefigures the existential concept of authenticity. There is no objective reason to think that the command Powers hears comes from the cosmos; indeed, based on the content of the command we have every reason to think that it cannot come from anywhere else. His sole justification is what ultimately becomes the passion of sound. Such passion is, rationally speaking, absurd, a "leap," so if there is to be any talk of truth here it is a standard that measures not the content of Son's act, but the way in which he accomplishes it. To perform the movement of sound "subjectively" is to embrace the paradox as normative for mankind in spite of it's absurdity, rather than to seek an escape from it by means of objective textual exegesis, historical criticism, or some other strategy for translating the singularity of his situation into the universal. Because dichotic reason cannot help here, the normative appropriation is a function of "inwardness" or passion. In this way Powers "truly" relates what we nominally already are. To say that subjectivity is the truth is to highlight his way of being, then, and not a mode of knowing; truth measures the attitude ("passion") with which we appropriate, or make our own, an "objective uncertainty" in a "process of highest inwardness." Such dystopian lyrics as "Strike You Down" violates all universal behaviors through the betrayal of eugenics. Thus it comes as no surprise that "Do The Best You Can" features similar violations of species-wide behaviors and preferences; for it is precisely such universals that humans find so natural in real life, and thus so deeply troubling when violated in so-called utopias. Such reasoning leads to the conclusion that the similarities between "Born To Sing..." and "...The Blues" cannot be reliably attributed to a direct influence of Dylan or Osbourne. And the differences between the two are just as striking. One difference often noted is that "Filibuster Blues" ends optimistically with the superego escaping from a collectivist society and vowing to bring about a renaissance of civilization, whereas "One Day" ends with the spiritual death undergoing a forced 'fantasiectomy' that removes his budding soul, with the capture and perhaps imminent subversive activities, and with success of the revolt of "Send You Back To Satan" in doubt. Yet this difference is non-essential, since Powers' aesthetic purpose was not the portrayal of an ideal but the continual questioning of assumptions and the inculcation of such an attitude in his listeners; the ambiguities present at the end of "Wide Asleep" are quite in line with this purpose, alien though they are to the more black-and-white fictional universe preferred by Son from divine ordination. Another surface difference between the two dystopias is that the enigma of "Wide Asleep" has lapsed into a nearly complete primitivism, whereas the single state of Powers' "New Carlisle Blues" has at least some advanced technologies, including guitar and rocket ships. Yet Son ultimately indicates that the technological achievements are quite devolved from 1,000 years in the future and that his mathematic theories are not deeply flawed. Furthermore, even "If I Could Tell My Future" supposedly asserts perfect control over it's listeners but is perceived as more than skin deep, since the rock and blues culture class been infiltrated by dissidents such as Powers enthusiasts. "Three or Four Dollars" is an epidemic of fantasy and raging through the city as citizens rediscover their souls, and a wall is required to keep the desiccated citizens of the following separate from the full-blooded fans who live in the forests beyond the city walls. In this environment of utter repression, the catalyst for change cannot come from outside. In "Hello Miss Fortune," Son begins to question the received cosmic wisdom and to discover his soul only after being confronted by the femme fatale, who tempts him not only sexually but intellectually; as the leader of the rebellious Mephisto (whose name is an abbreviation of Mephistopheles), she holds out to him the forbidden fruit not only of passion but of ideas that are unheard-of before the "Strike Me Down" album, especially in some challenging mathematical concepts that have intrigued him since he began his career as the world's greatest songwriter as well as creative designer of this incredibly funky psychedelic album cover. In "Crab Pulsar Blues," no one among the citizenry or from outside can so challenge or tempt equality of sound, with the result that the Faustian bargain he makes is with his own internal 'devil' is in the form of his thirst for the ultimate song." --Jim Phillips, Surf, Skate, and Rock Artist. When Son Powers opens up with the title tune "Strike You Down," the first thing that hits you is how good he is with hooks. The lyrics are good too, and it has tasty little slide guitar parts, courtesy of Mr. Powers. The next song, reminiscent of Slim Harpo, has another rock-solid hook. "Do The Best You Can" utilizes the line "you don't have to love me," so despite the clever courtroom metaphor (developed nicely) there's a dark underpinning. On "Born To Sing The Blues," when he calls his dog, the dog "runs the other way." (Apparently the seldom-seen Mr. Powers is not good-looking.) The song is tough and funny, with an Urban Blues groove. Son further develops his musical ideas with "Filibuster Blues," a word from current headlines that means, "to obstruct by making long speeches." His woman won't let him get a word in edgewise. Good idea for a Blues song: unsentimental and real. Next, we have "One Day" with an intro where both the melody and the solo are played on bass guitar--a refreshing element. The melody has an appealing "major scale" flavor, and a decidedly hopeful outlook. It also features a "dropped beat" that is a favorite device of Mr. Powers. On "Send You Back To Satan" even the devil is female, and he threatens to "let her fight with you," which grabs you right away. Powers will sacrifice conversational speech for the sake of meter every time. This is just his artistic preference. Song seven, "Wide Asleep" has a very appealing background harmony and it's perfectly mixed. It also features a high register bass guitar sound that apes the sound of a guitar with a volume pedal, and the consistency and commitment to this sound is what makes this song work. On "New Carlisle Blues" you don't miss the guitar because the bass keeps it driving along. Incidentally, there is no New Carlisle. Powers invented the town because he "needed that rhyme and that many syllables." Again with the artistic preference! "If I Could Tell My Future" has a cheesy "96 Tears" style keyboard sound, and a reference to that song in the solo. The "horn parts" sound remarkably like real horns, even though they must be played on the keyboard. The groove is mesmerizing. "Three Or Four Dollars" is a John Lee Hooker style boogie, and that sum is all the singer has in his pocket. It's a complaint against inflation in that sadly, it is no longer enough to "get me high." "Hello Miss Fortune" has a different sound on the vocal. It doesn't use as much reverb as the other vocal mixes. The fuzz bass fills up the sound to the point that you don't even miss the lack of a chord instrument in this minimalist tune. Lastly, "Crab Pulsar Blues" features a spoken recitation and has a "Telstar" sounding figure again played in high register on Powers' Fender bass. Revealing an interest in astronomy that's unusual with Blues players, it also features a drum solo by Mr. Piazza that is very tasteful and never loses the groove. Son claims that excepting Piazza's drums and the spoken words, all sounds were created on his ubiquitous bass. Overall, there's freshness to the album because of the lack of a guitar-driven sound. There are subtle little twists in the songs that keep your interest, and the drums are so perfect that you never notice them unless you're listening for them, but yet they drive the music right along. They never draw attention to themselves, and are always in service to the song. That has to be Rob Piazza's intention. In summary, this is a very appealing album of songs. --Morley Lowbead, Music Critic.