Wild Child

The Spoken X

Independent release, 2007


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


What is cool?

It’s an age-old question to which there are myriad answers, one of which surely must be: “a song that sounds like Allen Ginsberg partying with AC/DC.”

Granted, “Superstitions” thunders along halfway through this thoroughly original hard rock/spoken-word album, but regardless of the context it would be hard not to sit up and pay attention when an ominous voice is spitting out a thought-provoking poem over a dirty-sweet blues riff that would make Angus Young nod and snicker.

The Spoken X is a collaboration between poet Ted Golder and rock and roller Peter Parker.  Parker, a veteran European touring musician who once held down the bass slot in a live all-original-members Thin Lizzy tribute to Phil Lynott, takes care of all the instruments, while Golder writes most of the lyrics and delivers the spoken-word component of these tracks.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The music is mostly stripped-down melodic hard rock; what’s surprising is how effectively Golder’s evocative readings and Parker’s crunchy musical backings complement one another.  There’s a lot of aggression in tracks like “Get Out Of My Face” and the ironic “Akoustik Attack,” but the tone isn’t always so obvious.  The opening title track is where the duo really show off the potential of their unique sound, as Golder narrates a haunting trip back to his childhood neighborhood, since taken over by ghetto thugs, around a chorus that puts a punchline to his socio-personal musings: “Can you see why your child’s gone wild?”  The music underneath is a kind of propulsive funk that pushes Golder into an almost hip-hop flow that underscores the urgency of the entire story.

Soon after, “Awakening” marries slightly surreal fantasy lyrics with crisp, mid-tempo melodic hard rock, resulting in a track that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Rush album.  “Genesis” achieves a similar effect with softer and more eerie instrumentation.

Not everything here achieves its goals; “The Drinking Song” might be adapted from a piece by Francois Rabelais, but its heady origins still don’t raise this track above the level of filler.  Ditto for the at least somewhat witty “The Party Song.”  And “The Meaning Of Life” derives a worthwhile allegorical message from its source material The Mahabharata, but just doesn’t feel as real or relevant as what came before.

A handful of weaker moments aside, Golder and Parker have much to be proud of with this album.  Poetry and music have always been close siblings, and the best song lyrics often have a poetic flow and cadence to them.  Distilling that relationship into a form that combines rock music with spoken-word poetry produces a potent hybrid with almost unlimited potential.

Rating: B

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© 2007 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.