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Consumable Online, May 29, 1996, Internet Music Review 'zine

Review: Broadside Electric More Bad News

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More Bad News is the third album from the Philadelphia based band Broadside Electric. Broadside Electric is a folk / rock band that reminds us that not all folk music is based on acoustic guitars and Bob Dylan lyrics. This folk music has teeth, as the group is quick to point out in their CD liner notes, web pages, etc. By teeth, they refer to the sex, blood & violence so common in Celtic folk songs, but present everywhere else as well.

While Broadside Electric is a Celtic folk rock band, you can see differences that make them very much unique. First is the instrumentation. Among the "standard" recorders, acoustic guitars, etc., is a Chapman Stick®, electric violin, and an occasional sax. The three band members (Tom Rhoads, Jim Speer and Helene Zisook) combine to make a sound more akin to an entire troupe, rather than just a trio. Melissa Demian, previously in the band, provides some additional backing vocals.

The sound that Broadside Electric produces shows a strong Celtic folk / rock style, but with additional eastern influences. These influences add accents and flavors to the album. Broadside Electric shows the influences of folk bands such as Steeleye Span but with other influences such as Boiled In Lead. People who enjoy this style of music would be very glad to hear this album.

We open the album with "Babylon". While this traditional tune and story are rather simple in concept, the execution by Broadside Electric really gets this album off to a good (and somewhat bloody) start. The distorted Chapman Stick sets up the scene. Two murders and a suicide later, we move on to the second track, "Lord Bateman". This is a love song about commitment, with Slavic influences. "Bucimis" is a dance tune with Bulgarian origins. Broadside Electric has sped it up a bit, and made a rather quick and lively piece out of it.

More mayhem then occurs within "Silkie". This tune sounds like it has a bit more of a mellow, John Renbourn sound. Don't let the mellow sound confuse you - add two to the body count. And let's not forget the random sex...

The next is a collection of reels titled "The Spinning Wheel and the Bronze Axe". The CD liner notes tell us how the band comes up with the names for these reel collections - select a random college textbook, flip through randomly until you find something that looks good.

"Pastures Of Plenty" is almost a western flavor. This is a Woody Guthrie piece that is played almost like a Bad Company tune. The effect is a perfect contrast to the rest of the album. "As I Roved Out" inherits some of the feeling of the Boiled In Lead that inspired this song. Broadside Electric has made it very much their own. The story of the song is one of a married soldier tricking a young lady into casual sex. No big surprise for anyone who follows Celtic folk / rock.

"Gas Nign & Makedonsko Devojce" is a Jewish / Macedonian influenced instrumental combination. The combination of electric violin, Chapman Stick and electric guitar makes this an unusual and enjoyable tune. "Sheath and Knife" brings the body count to seven. Still a mellow tune, softly told events of incest, murder and vengeance. "J'ai Vu Le Loup" closes out the album with a French flair.

Broadside Electric's third album More Bad News is good news for anyone who is interested in folk / rock music. This trio out of Philadelphia creates a sound that is reminiscent of Steeleye Span and Boiled in Lead, but remains uniquely their own. More Bad News is a strong recommendation for anyone interested in Celtic music, folk / rock, etc. Keep in mind the violence and sex - a common theme in the Celtic tradition. There is lots of it here. Also, the combination of traditional themes from around the world and the musicianship of the band members makes this a must hear.

Album body count: 7 (3 women, 2 men, 2 children) There is rumor of an eighth death, but this reviewer has not been able to confirm it, or identify the remains.

- Paul Grzelak

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