Sunday, November 20, 2005

Biff Rose "The Thorn in Mrs. Rose’s Side/ Children of Light" double CD (Water)

These two 1968 records, curiously, were albums one and two in my collection: a friend of my dad’s found them on top of a trash can in Venice and passed them on. I loved them to excess as a tyke (especially Children of Light) and was pleased to find on re-making their acquaintance that the hooks haven’t dulled. Biff Rose is an unjustly neglected humorous piano popster whose quirky lyrics, frenetic riffs and sweetly broken voice are quite distinctive, but not for everyone. Bowie borrowed “Fill Your Heart” for Hunky Dory, though in Biff’s screwball hands it’s hardly the catchiest tune around. The orchestral arrangements suggest a psychedelic Vaudevillian ala Van Dyke Parks, and VdP himself makes a cameo on the second disc. Children of Light offers a more stripped down sound, and tender, provocative tunes like the Aquarian Age masculinist statement “Just Like A Man.” The package includes reprints of the back cover socio-political aphorisms that blew my tiny mind, and the suggestion that the New Orleans-bred artist has plenty more work to explore.

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