In 1994 Simon Scardanelli was living in the Lower East Side of New York City. DEATH ROW TALES was recorded in his apartment at 355 E4th Street. Performing live at the time under the name of The Eye Camera, which incorporated a multi-media cinematic show as a backdrop to his singing, Scardanelli also performed solo around New York City. Favourite spots were CBGB's Gallery, Cafe Siné on 8th Street as well as the usual Bleeker Street and Village tourist venues. The Eye Camera even performed (to an audience that included Billy Joel) at the "legendary" China Club - a kind of industry hang-out uptown; well away from Scardanelli's spiritual East Village home. The China Club's corporate audience was suitably non-plussed by the twin cinema screens and odd backing tracks used in the show. Simon was not invited back! Simon Scardanelli was also at this time involved in other odd performance events, including a piece entitled "Who Killed Pinnochio?" which played to several art gallery openings in SoHo. His ambient and installation pieces were featured in several galleries, including a major show by New York artist Stan Putko.
The album was released on the small independent label Red Line MusicWorks, which quickly went bust. Death Row Tales however became a cult album. E-mails from around the world testified to the reach of this very limited release - the CGI programmers and artists on the movies MATRIX 2 & 3 for example had it as one of their albums of choice in the editing suites in Australia - though it was never released in that country. Similarly, the album has found its way into Russia, Japan, China and most of Europe, despite having an intial USA only release of 1000 copies.
Now available on CDBaby for the first time, and available on all digital download formats including iTunes, DEATH ROW TALES remains an important milestone in Simon Scardanelli's career -coming as it did a couple of years after the demise of Big Bam Boo and being the last album he would record for over ten years. The songs "Genevieve" and "Uncommon Times" would be reprised acoustically upon his return to playing and recording in 2005, and feature on the album HOBOHEMIA.
"The Eye Camera checks in with Death Row Tales, the sort of dark, pleasant, pop-accessible, folksy, yet centrally unhappy disc that you simply can't help being simultaneously drawn to and driven from. The vocals are strong, crisp, and powerful. The music is usually tauntingly upbeat, though "Why?" is a downright depressing storytelling piece. Perhaps the band is a dark, brooding Pet Shop Boys from an evil alternative universe, but The Eye Camera is clearly one-of-a-kind. Though it's a royal pain to describe, Death Row Tales is both an artistic and musical masterpiece." -
Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newlsetter, 1994
"Simon Scardanelli is the entire band and he recorded and produced this disc of original material in his apartment. And it's quite good. He combines the best excesses of Julian Cope with those of Sound of Skin and comes up with richly detailed darkness. Despite its bleak orientation it's a surprisingly creative listen, and not at all a trial to sit through"
Sound Views Subterranean Music & Culture, New York, Sept 1994.