Take songs on tapes that have outlasted earthquakes, hurricanes, and incarcerations. Add some digital salvation and out comes 'Grateful,' a pastiche of new music with remixed or refurbished tracks that were almost lost in time.
'Grateful' is the new CD from Foldback Records recording artist Johnny J Blair. “I’m grateful people kept requesting these songs, even though I thought the master recordings were gone,” Blair says. “I was told some tapes were destroyed in an earthquake, some were trashed by record companies, and one reel was taken to South America and lost. Last year, friends found pieces of these tapes ‘marooned’ on two continents. It’s almost like rescuing marooned people from a desert island.”
Thrashy pop, stacks of Beach Boys-like vocals, string quartets, and hard-rock improvisation feature prominently on 'Grateful.' Selections include “Desert Ruby” (a surreal diary of a bus ride from Tampa to Los Angeles), “She’s Not Some Animal #2,” and other songs Blair often performs live.
Unearthed gems include a jet-propelled cover of “My Bonnie” dressed in riffs from David Bowie’s glam era. The punk-psychedelia of “I’m So Glad (U Let Me In)” is Blair’s love note to San Francisco, the town where much of 'Grateful' was written and recorded. Other parts of 'Grateful' take a whimsical look at the Keystone State (“I Wanna Be in Pennsylvania”).
Guests include ex-Monkee Davy Jones, Michael Miller (Gilmore Girls), Michael Roe (The 77s), power-pop prince Chris von Sneidern, and members of the seminal jangle-guitar band Flying Color. Engineers include Grammy winner Rusty Richards (Julie Miller, Michelle Shocked, Brian Wilson) and the late Aaron Gregory (Chris Isaak, Toiling Midgets, Chuck Prophet), to whom 'Grateful' is dedicated.
Blair’s offbeat, sunny brand of pure pop is informed by urban irreverence, romantic abstraction, and a bittersweet spirituality.
'Grateful' joins a Wampus Multimedia roster that includes The May Bees, The Crowd Scene, Cafebar 401, tvfordogs, Casey Abrams, Arms of Kismet, Mick Reed, Alice Despard, and others, as well as the compilations 'Hurry Home Early: the Songs of Warren Zevon,' 'After Hours: a Tribute to the Music of Lou Reed,' and 'If I Were a Richman: a Tribute to the Music of Jonathan Richman.'