Tom Pacheco is a prolific writer, a poet who in his early years was influenced by the writers of the Beat Generation, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Neal Cassady. At one point in his career Pacheco recorded two albums for RCA and was offered a writing contract with a major publisher in Nashville but he knew he could never be a 9 to 5 writer labouring over commercial jingles for others to record, so he cut loose to become a modern troubadour.
Pacheco writes and sings about subjects that interest him or cause him concern and is unafraid to express his views forcefully. There is no doubt that had he been writing these songs back in the early 50s during the notorious McCarthy witch hunts, he would have joined the likes of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and other dissidents in prison.
This collection is made up of 31 songs. Sub-titled "The Secret Hits", they have been culled from numerous albums dating back to "Eagle In the Rain", released some 18 years ago.
Pacheco is an absorbing storyteller who researches the life and times of his subjects meticulously before putting his own slant on events. For years he has taken an interest in the events and peripheral characters surrounding the assassination of the Kennedy brothers and he lays bare his thoughts on the mysterious "Jessica Brown" and in "Juan Romero" paints a picture of the young Mexican hotel worker who was frist on the scene when Bobby Kenndy was shot.
He is extremely blunt in his portrayal of Teddy Rossevelt, branding him a foolwhilst generating sympathy in recounting the life and death of Che Guevara in "Che" Little is really known about Jack the Ripper but, following a visit to London Pacheco became intrigued by the mystery and allows his imagination to run riot in "The Journal Of Graeme Livingstone (actually the name of the promotor who brings Tom over to tour Britain every year), in a fascinating, though purely fictional tale, of the man who killa Jack the Ripper before escaping to America.
Other examples of his ability to tell convincing stories are "Woody and Jack", "Robert and Ramona", "The Sacred", "Cell Block One", the poetic "Blue Montana Sky" and "Angel". He expresses his anger and disillusion in the hard hitting "Merchants Of Death" and the caustic "Memorial Day", his environmental concerns in the ironic "Last Blue Whale In The Ocean" his genuine empathy with the underdog in songs like "midnight Waters Of The Rio Grande", "Norfolk, LIttle Rock, Memphis" and "They're All Human", and his heartfelt prayer for one of his sisters who was going through a hard time in "Shadow Of A Seagull".
Pacheco came to Ireland in the 1980s for a short visit-and ended up spending 10 years in the country. On his return to America he discovered, to his dismay, that many things had changed. He expresses this disappointment in the poignant "There Was A Time", "What Happened To The America I Used To Know", "Bluefields", "Hills Of Woodstock", "Crazy Eyes" and the optimistic "I Had A Dream" and brings down the final curtain here with the wistful "If I Could Come Back"
Since many of the albums from which these tracks have been were recorded at different studios, the quality and sound levels are variable so Tom has spent many hours enhancing themto the point where they sound brighter and fresher than when first released.
As a bonus he has included the rocky "A Woman I Knew" taken from a six-track promotional sampler called "Dublin Girl" he recorded with a small group of Irish and American Musicians shortly after arriving in Ireland, of which there were only 200 cassette copies made.
Tom Pacheco has been sorely undervalued as both a writer and a singer. This collection is something of a snapshot of his skill in both fields and, had the album arrived a little earlier, it would certainly have been listed in this reviewer's top five albums of 2007.
written by Al Moir
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