In Loving Memory Of...

Big Wreck

Atlantic Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I swear, either I'm going to have to stop answering e-mails on three different computers in two cities, or I'm going to have to start writing down people's names in my Franklin.

Every once in a while, I get a reader suggestion for an album that I just happen to have on my short list. In the case of today's example, our mysterious letter writer (I'm sorry, buddy, I'm not always this forgetful... sometimes I'm even worse) asked me to take a look at In Loving Memory Of..., the debut release from Big Wreck.

When I first got this disc in the mail, it came with a bunch of other Atlantic releases I had little interest in, so it got filed in the "one-of-these-days" section of the Pierce Archives. Then, when I heard the song "The Oaf" on the radio, I not only thought these guys had a lot of talent, but I seemed to remember I had this disc languishing in the Archives. When this reader suggested it, I had the CD in my briefcase to listen to.

This Canadian trio led by vocalist/guitarist Ian Thornley is a definite mixed marriage between the Black Crowes and Collective Soul. There is a looseness to the music, but there is also a very definite edge - and when they're on, that edge is sharper than any Ginsu steak knife out there.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In Loving Memory Of... has been receiving quite a buzz from the single "The Oaf," a song which shifts from light, jangly, almost psychedelic guitars to a deafening crunch. For Thornley, guitarist Brian Doherty, bassist David Henning and drummer Forrest Williams, it's one hell of a welcome to America greeting they send out to us. (Why this song hasn't gone through the roof I don't know.)

Of course, this is just foreplay - what else does this band have to offer past track one on the CD? Turns out, the answer is "plenty". From the slide guitar-to-crunch tempo of "Look What I Found" to the "gotta-be-a-hit-single" poppiness of "Fall Through The Cracks," Big Wreck is almost constantly clicking on all fours. Indeed, for almost the entire album, I dare you to find one bad track on it.

So where can any fault lie? By the time you get to "Prayer" and "Overemphasizing," the final two tracks on the disc, it's almost as if you need a break from the powerful sound and music. Had these two tracks been on another album, most likely they would have stood out. But the listener can only take so much sonic assault, no matter how good it is, before some of the tracks start to blend together, and they lose focus in the album. For me, this happened after 11 of the 13 songs.

Still, this is a minute point to make. Hell, the songwriting is top notch, the production is great - this is an album that is just waiting to make its big break into your living room. And frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't happened. Collective Soul made it on the strength of one song, and they became the alternative world's darlings.

Aha! That's where the problem is! With alternative music in a severe period of decay, some stations might not want to take a chance on In Loving Memory Of... if they deem it alternative. (Then again, look what that chance did for Tonic - a band that Big Wreck reminds me a lot of.)

In Loving Memory Of... is one of those albums I wish I had the foresight to listen to a few months ago - it just might have made it onto my "best-of" list. If these guys don't get some serious airplay and sales soon, it's really going to be our loss.

And to the person who suggested the review, take comfort in this fact: You were right about this album. It kicks!


Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen 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 Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.