From a March 2001 performance. With original band members vocalist Parker Dulany and guitarist Phil Gammage. Features a selection of songs from the band\'s 24 year career. With guest artists Julee Cruise and Keith Streng (Fleshtones). The band\'s only authorized live release!
Recorded live at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, New York, NY on March 23, 2001. Recording engineered by Marc Travanti and Curt Wolfe. Mastered by Andy Heermans at Polywog.
Parker Dulany - lead vocals and rhythm guitar
Phil Gammage - vocals and lead guitar
Kevin Tooley - drums, vocals, and harmonica
Robert Palacios - bass and vocals
Arnaud Dieterlen - keyboards and samples
Julee Cruise - vocals (La Decadance and Baby Are You Rich?)
Keith Streng - guitar and vocals (Mr. Vinegar, Voodoo Taxi, and Love Life)
Certain General Live at Don Hill\'s, NYC - April 10, 2002
By Kristy Eldredge
I was bone ignorant about Certain General when I went to see this show, assuming they\'d be a fresh-faced gang of newcomers who would not know life\'s darker corners or its propensity for horrid gaping disappointment. Wrong! Certain General turned out to be unbelievably smart and cool. Too bad for the majority of New Yorkers who missed the show. The crowd at Don Hill\'s was on the small side, but we were riveted by the band\'s thudding, minimalist rhythms and boxy atonal melodies carved out by endlessly inventive guitarist Phil Gammage and bassist Parker Dulany. Dulany\'s vocals, and his presence as a frontman, were what really made the set work.
Some bands are worth watching just for their frontpersons. Certain General are one of those bands. Parker Dulany (that name!) embodies subtle but powerful charisma with his pouchy, sad eyes and slender scarecrow elegance. He sang in a haunted, atonal (again) voice that recalled David Byrne at times, David Bowie at others, and I swear a kind of depressive rockabilly affect was in there too, though someone I met at the show disagreed vehemently with that idea. It\'s true that the band never sounded like rockabilly, for one guitar lick or drumbeat. The songs have the fast, zig-zag feel of early 80s post-punk, and for good reason — it turns out Certain General began in 1980, in the East Village, and achieved wide success, especially in France.
It was a flashback feel, the whole night. Certain General sang songs that criticized military action, but in a flat-affect, ironic style that reminded me of how much social criticism sprang out of the vicious ironies of the Sex Pistols. \"I have a gun, I want to shoot my gun,\" one Certain General song goes, over and over (I\'m paraphrasing, I think those were the lyrics) and it\'s reminiscent of Talking Heads songs like Don\'t Worry About the Government (the one with the line \"Some civil servants are just like my loved ones\"). Compare that to the personal, smaller-canvas furies of a band like Nirvana. But back to the music: the songs had great beats and what sounded like interesting lyrics as usual the vocal mix was a bit muddy for my taste. The band seemed pretty arty and non-delivering of easy rock pleasures like nice harmony or emotional surges of feeling for the first few songs, but as the show went on they began to play slightly longer songs that resulted in Dulany occasionally throwing his head back, eyes closed, losing himself in vocal intensities, and that was truly great. Within the American tradition of intelligent, storky, white-boy frontmen, his body language is the loosest and he seems to have the most soul. The French don\'t always choose the most worthy American icons to elevate, but they seem to be on to something with Certain General.