Lieberman, Steve - Bad'lania Rising
Year of Release: 2002
Label: Dist. By Gangsta Rabbi Bad'lan USA Records
Catalog Number: DBS 2709
Total Time: 74:00:00
I've given Steve Lieberman's Bad'lania rising a few spins and formed a certain opinion about it: I think it's awful.
And really, I could leave it at that. And I probably should, but I'll tell you why I think that. It's not the raw sound to it or the fact that his vocals are distorted, perhaps through the megaphone he is seen holding in a picture in the booklet -- these give it the live, 70s feel I think Lieberman was going for (or it's just really bad production). And if that were it, but the overall performance were listenable, one could live with those elements... not everyone has an adequate recording budget or skills with do-it-yourself recording.
It's awful because of what underlies those two elements. It's an album that is really one piece (maybe two) repeated with different lyrics. In fact, the only difference from track to is three things: volume of the various instruments, lyrics, and speed. Lieberman's lyrical style is... short declarative statements (though Hemingway he is not) about his dog Buttons (now departed) that he calls a puppy, about people he knows or has known, and, in the case of "Die Like A Maccabee," his not wanting to die in vain ("Don't wanna have a stroke or a stinking aneurysm / Wanna be cut down fighting the war against racism!" he sings). Being Jewish and what that has meant to and for him also underscores some of his lyrics, so there is some substance in there... it's just hard to get to. See, it's not as if the lyrics are given any kind of attention, since without them being printed in the booklet, I'd say you'd have no idea what he was saying. Thus, because of this 70s live feel, the distorted vocals that make them inscrutable, and the fact that each piece sounds the same ... well, it just comes across as awful.
Someone called it "like Ian Anderson on acid..." - it's because of the flute aspect and this late psychedelic feel the recording has. Incidentally, Anderson is the subject of "Ian Anderson" ... I'll say something nice - Lieberman does play the flute nicely, but over such a racket that it seems out of context. This is not his main instrument - seems Lieberman was at first a bassist and developed his own style of playing by turning it upside down and backwards. And so there is a lot of throbbing bass here (remember all songs sound the same, so what I say about one instrumentally, I say about all). What he says about Anderson relates the large impact that he had in his life, and how few associate Anderson with anything but "Aqualung," as if that's the only thing he did.
What Bad'lania Rising seems like to me is: someone with a lot of ambition, the need to "tell his story," and the ability to play (well or not) a variety of instruments has recorded all these noodlings... but... I mean, I get what he's trying for, some eclectic mix of rock and punk (I thought of the Beastie Boys on "Boppin' On the Bopside") and Jethro Tull, a hybrid of styles that might fall into the outer reaches of the progressive music envelope, but... and apparently his music gets a lot of downloads and thus has topped some download charts, but I have to wonder if isn't just that people are slowing down to see the carwreck, you know. We are fascinated by the grotesque, the eccentric. I don't know if Lieberman is the eccentric he seems to be here, or it's just a musical persona... but... I just can't say I enjoy listening to it.
Big Carburetor 29 (3:59) / Sever The Wire (3:56) / Pinball Machine (3:16) / Garbage Man (2:53) / Puppy (2:43) / Donna Martin (3:17) / Ian Anderson (4:07) / Boppin' On The Bopside (4:01) / Glad I Am A Vegetarian (3:23) / Industrial Girl (3:20) / Punk-Rock Channu'kah (3:48) / Die Like A Maccabee (2:48) / Gangsta Rabbi (3:02) / For Buttons Bat-Sheva Berech'iah (3:18) / P-E-R- Abe'kah (3:19) / Marika (3:24) / Jeremiah Of Ana'toth (4:01) / Street Corner Preacher (2:45) / Shout In Mizra'im (3:05) / Isolationist Pup (3:36) / Radio Zion/Psalm 151 (5:50)
Steve Lieberman - bass, vocals, transverse flutes (concert flute, Japanese folk flute, Cooperman's fifes, transverse recorders, Clifford, the Big Blue Flute, melody flutes), happy flutes (soprano, alto, and tenor recorders, slide whistles, tin whistles, happy flutes), exotic and Bop-Guns (shahnai, bagpipe chanter, Bulgarian shepherd flutes (duduk & dvoyanka), Balinese flutes, snake charmer flutes called beens), trombone, clarinet, drum sequencers, electronic percussion and cowbells
Bad'lania Rising (2002)
Jewish Lightning (2003)
Desert Fever Brigade (2003)
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