Rose, Tim - American Son

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Mystic Records
Catalog Number: MYS CD 150
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:05:00

Tim Rose is an artist I'm unfamiliar with, though his songwriting credits include "Come Away Melinda," which many of you know as a Uriah Heep track, and "Hey Joe," made famous by Jimi Hendrix. Rose is a stripped down singer songwriter, and yet that doesn't mean that the arrangements on American Son are sparse. His backing band is a solid group of individuals who fill the sound perfectly. The line up: Kato Aadland on guitars, Hammond B-3, organ, orchestra bells, and dulcimer; Ole Ludvig Kruger on drums; Magne Thormodsaeter on bass; and Hans Petter Gundarsen on tambourine, guitars. Rose plays acoustic guitar and, for one track, a 5-string banjo.

Now, this that follows may seem like I'm trying to find a prog angle to justify the review, but that really isn't the case. See, I say that because...well, here's the funny thing: at various points, I kept thinking of Greg Lake singing "Footprints In The Snow" and "Affairs Of The Heart." If Lake had a more gravelly voice, of course. Though, it's probably truer to say that Lake sounds like a less gravelly Rose. Now, I know how Black Moon is viewed by many ELP and prog fans, but I happen to like that album a great deal, and so I do not find this comparison to be a bad thing... that is...liking Lake's voice there and on earlier ELP albums, I thus also like Rose's voice. It's a rich voice, solid, warm even when being biting or sardonic.

Though released in February 2002, Rose recorded the material in 2000... which would be 25 years since the fall of Saigon and the US's pulling out of Vietnam. Those soldiers that returned we not treated well, they became the enemy just for serving their country, and it took a long time for the nation to stop blaming those soldiers for "losing" the war... I'm simplifing things a great deal... "Ageing Soldier" is dedicated to that soldiers, many of whom are entering their 50s now. It is moving without being treacly. With just a few lines, Rose paints for us a very vivid image. It is played at a slow pace, a plodding, almost funereal pace. It's an interesting contrast between "Ageing Soldier" and "Tiger In Cages." The latter is a commentary on the last thirty years, of the "baby boomers" going from the idealism of the early 60s to the cynicism of the 90s -- Rose suggesting that with the death of Kennedy, much went downhill. That instead of making a positive change, those who were once idealistic became self-centered, apathetic and greedy -- the 80s "me" decade, for one. "Tiger In Cages," by the way, in terms of sound, seems to me to be like a melding of "Wreck Of The Emund Fitzgerald" and Dire Straits' "The Man's Too Strong" (Brother In Arms), the vocal rhythm of the former and the instrumentation of the latter (and that bit of Black Moon period Lake).

Speaking of greed... of course, with so many company executives being arrested today - and perhaps even actually today, right now, as you read this - greed is not a vice we've risen above. Which, in "Cages," becomes an interesting theme, since a few tracks before you get "Because You're Rich." Now, it's not that Rose is contradicting himself, but rather embodying a persona -- a person who is unhappy with his present situation, but is far too comfortable being a "kept" man to leave. But, this comes in contrast to the next track, "Where Did the Good Times Go?," where the Rose-persona is one whose roamed, never settling down with one person. Though I don't know for sure, I'm going to guess that Bruce Springsteen is familiar with Rose as "Where Did The Good Times Go?" as at times it could easily be an early Springsteen tune, or, really, Bob Dylan. And saying that, Rose landed his first solo contract at CBS, the bio says, because they were looking for more singer songwriters like Bob Dylan.

"Broken Wing" is the one track that wasn't written by Rose, this by Tony Harper. This gentle love song with echoes of Jim Croce, is the sparsest in arrangements, featuring just Rose on guitar and voice, though there are some strings in the background as well. "Broken Wing" is the song of longing, of wanting someone whose out of reach. The track that comes in contrast is "I Never Knew (So Much To Lose)" -- the song of having that someone, not realizing it, and losing that person.

"She Was Born To Fly" is a rather sad track that seems to be very personal... The last line of the lyric isn't printed as sung, but as written makes it all that much sadder. Not sure why Rose changed it, but it suggests that the song truly comes from a personal experience. Of course, many write from personal experience even if it isn't autobiographical... "Live It To The Brim" is a mellow anthem... something I could see the Grateful Dead playing. As it happens one piece that Rose wrote, "Morning Dew," was covered by the Grateful Dead... Its message is one that few heed - just be you.

This is a really good album. Because the arrangements are compact, this will appeal especially to those who are more into the songwriting aspect (messages and meaning in the lyrics) versus flashy instrumental solos, though the playing here is top notch. That's not to say those who do like the instrumental flights of fancy won't like this, too, just don't look for Rose, Aadland or Gunerson to wail away on a lengthy guitar solo.


[Tim Rose passed away on September 24, 2002 recovering from surgery stemming from stomach cancer - ed.]

American Son (5:20) / Because You're Rich (4:21) / Where Did The Good Times Go (3:27) / Aging Soldier (6:47) / Broken Song (5:02) / Tiger In Cages (5:31) / She Was Born To Fly (5:52) / Live It To The Brim (2:42) / I Never Knew (So Much To Lose) (3:09) / Once He Was (7:54)

Tim Rose - acoustic 6 and 12-string guitars, 5-string banjo
Kato Aadland - guitar, Leslie guitar, baritone guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, organ, Hammond B-3, orchestra bells, dulcimer, mandolin, and keyboards
Ole Ludvig Kruger - drums
Magne Thormodsaeter - bass
Hans Petter Gundersen - tambourine, steel guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, Vietnamese instrument, and choir leader
Die Folkemanen - background (2)
The Ardahl Choir - background(3)
Joergen Traen - many goodies (4)
Ingrid Mjanger - schoolgirl singer (8), woman (10)
Anders Bitustoyl - flute (10)
Claudia Scott

The Big Three (1963)
The Big Three Live At The Recording Studio (1964)
Tim Rose (1967)
Through Rose Colored Glasses (1969)
Love - A Kind Of Hate Story (1970)
Tim Rose (1974)
The Musician (1975)
Unfinished Song (1976)
The Gambler (1977/ 1991)
Haunted (1997)
American Son (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: August 3rd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 528
Language: english


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