US - Illinois - Full Moon 39 - 12/22/99
The conn-man is back, happier than ever. New York born Bobby Conn seems to be a cheerful
nutter. He's been in a lot of bands: the Lean Muscular Funk Unit, The Ski Patrol, Cabonizers,
16 Style Band, and has been collaborating with artists such as Jim O'Rourke (who also appeared
- and produced - on Conn's last album). On this 4-song-EP he presents 2 songs of his own, plus
two interpretations. If you've heard (or seen the cover art of) last year's album, Rise Up!
(on Truckstop/Atavistic and Thrill Jockey, his second after the self-titled debut of 1997), you
know it's difficult to label him. He sounds slightly crazy, with his hybrid of 60's/70's soul
and gospel influenced stuff. Bobby simply loves to flirt with the pompous. So much that the NME
have named him "avant-kitschster" and "wanker."
Free Love is a quickstep tip-toe soul infected song, complete with strings and horns,
where Conn is acting like a miniature James Brown. Virgina (co-written with Pomerleau
and Montgomery) is sung in French by Conn and chanteuse Virginia. It's got bouncy, juicy basslines,
and with Conn "doing a Bryan Ferry," before it turns into rap for a moment, ending with raw guitars.
Erotic stuff. On the flipside (of the vinyl edition) Conn first goes through Without You
(by Ham-Evans, brought to fame by crooner Harry Nilsson), an old power ballad with strong emotions,
done most excellently by Conn. Neat, and the highlight of this EP. The last song is a take on
Maria B (by Caetano Veloso), which means a more ethnic Latino-styled piece. Unfortunately it
turns into a more forgettable moment on this record.
I guess this EP works well as a teaser to check out what else Conn has done. But, as I said, it's
hard to find the right musical bag or basket to store him. Someone has claimed he sounds like "Meatloaf
meets Marvin Gaye." Critic Ned Kelly of Illinois Entertainer has said: "Imagine if Meatloaf had recorded
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust ..." So, I suggest for you to "meet" Bobby Conn - also known
as "The bravest little man in Chicago's cut-throat entertainment industry" - before he turns to artistic
sanity and sobriety.
Copyright © 1999 Håvard Oppøyen