Year of Release: 2000
Label: Neurosis Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Total Time: 69:50:00
Having reviewed 11 of Rick Ray's releases in rather quick succession, this and his most recent, Guitarsenal, were set aside so that I could listen to them with fresh ears. Well, Mind Control, Inc. sat a little longer than intended.
Here we have 13 new Ray compositions, and as usual, Ray plays everything here but the clarinet. That latter is here courtesy of his trusted cohort Rick Schultz. The highlight of Ray's music is his instrumentation, as the lyrical aspect tends to be the same from track to track. Topically they are different, even if they all follow the same cynical theme, but the structure of his lyrics follows the same rhyming pattern. Of course, one might say that all of Shakespeare's sonnets followed the same structural pattern, that structure being the sonnet. So, it isn't a criticism my telling you this - about Ray, that is. Just an observation. The vocals have that same slightly distorted sound, and Ray still sounds like "Poison"-period Alice Cooper.
As with other Ray releases, this one has an overarching theme. On Mind Control, Inc. it's mind control - that which comes to us through our various media. While on the one hand one might think that's a paranoid view, think how often you as a kid or your own kids wanted something because they've seen it on TV (to take a benign example)? While I don't subscribe to the idea that the media actually forces people to do things against their will, I do believe that there are those who are susceptible to manipulation and some aspects of our media play and prey upon that. One part of it is that people will believe what they want to believe.
The US has seen the power television exerts quite recently, with stations calling Gore the winner in Florida, then retracting, then calling Bush the winner, going so far as to declare him President, only to have to backpedal again. While I won't dwell on the US election process, it is only because this has been a very close election that we see how absurd it is for the news media to declare the winner nearly a month before the electors actually cast their votes (based on the popular vote). Especially when you consider that in some states the electors don't have to go by the popular vote. When the media declare so and so ahead in the election, it can discourage those who haven't voted to not do so. If the press control the election, they could misrepresent the numbers to force the outcome they want. I'm not saying they do necessarily (they've been told to not project in states where the polls are still open), but the potential is there. Of course, Ray's release came out long before the election, having been recorded in May and June of 2000.
They say history is written by the victors. And if you think about George Orwell's 1984, the possibility that history would be rewritten to suit the needs at the time is not all that farfetched. Possible, but not probable, perhaps.
In this mix, we get the track "Little Zombies," which is, thematically, one part "Jeremy," one part commentary on the over prescribing of Ritalin. Oh, perhaps Ray isn't being that specific, but with a lyric like "drugged him up because they said he's wild" one can draw that conclusion. Kids who seem restless and out-of-control are immediately labeled as ADD or AHDH. But perhaps they are just bored because they are ahead of where the rest of the class is, or there is something in their home situation where they feel they need to be the center of attention because they are ignored otherwise. Another tangent - a coworker of mine has a kid labeled as ADD, restless in class, etc., and yet can play video games for hours at stretch. Perhaps more a case of a child needing to be engaged by something rather than a chemical imbalance? I'm no psychologist, of course, but it makes me wonder. Of course, the other factor in this track is kids who kill kids - a la Columbine, to take a recent, well-known incident. Prozac has been known to trigger violent behavior in some - another case of drugs having an unintended effect. "Little Zombies" is a laundry list of ways kids are screwed up by the drugs they are intended to help them... and, of course, control them. [Song and this review written, of course, long before Tom Cruise went off on Matt Lauer on this same subject - ed. 5/2006]
Okay, I've spent a lot of words on the theme and lyrics, what about the music. "Mood Swings And Luney Things" is layered guitars, one rhythm, and one lead, over steady percussion. Another highlight is the track that immediately follows it, "Hypnotic Neurotic," which is, well, hypnotic guitar journey. Schultz clarinet is present but mixed quite back in the mix, which seems odd in that he's usually right up there. "This Is The Place" is one of the better tracks on the album, and perhaps because it breaks out of the typical Ray mould, for the most part. Instrumentally, it is quite rich, guitar, keys and percussion play off each other in the lead, and while Ray's vocals are okay, this would have been much better left as an instrumental, as the jangly guitar draws most of the interest. This is the second longest track on the album at 7 minutes and the instrumental section outweighs the vocals, only serving to highlight how better served as an instrumental it would have been.
Rick Ray is a prolific artist with a lot of talent, and each of his releases contains something worth listening to (most several somethings). But hopefully, with 13 solo releases under his belt, mostly released in the past year, he'll slow down a bit and spend more time working out his music, releasing fewer, but much stronger, albums. Having everything handy and an inexpensive distribution medium can sometimes mean quantity over quality - Ray hasn't hit that point yet, fortunately.
Psychoward Room #9 (4:28) / Robot Assassins (7:07) / Little Zombies (6:18) / Moodswings And Luney Things (4:17) / Hypnotic Neurotic (6:25) / Mind Control Incorporated (5:01) / Napoleon Brainapart (4:34) / This Is The Place (7:01) / Attack of The Mindless (3:51) / Prescription For Ignorance (5:36) / Looking All The Time (5:17) / The Delusion (6:35) / The Stranger (4:10)
Rick Ray - guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards, percussion, RX8, guitar-synth
Rick Schultz - clarinet
Abnormal Road (1999)
Balance Of Power (1999)
The Great Antagonist (1999)
Clone Man (1999)
Atomic Soldiers (1999)
Neurotic Tendencies (1999)
You People (1999)
Looking Into the Past (1999)
The Key To The Bottomless Pit (1999)
Cast Into Our Dimension (2000)
Living In An Insane World (2000)
Mind Control, Inc. (2000)
Manipulated DNA (2001)
Insanity Flies (2001)
Existing Passages (2002)
The Guitarsonist (2002)
Rick Ray Band - Into The Hands Of Sinners (2003)
Rick Ray Band - Out Of The Mist Of Obscurity (2003)
Rick Ray Band - Night Of The Living Dedicated (2004)
Chainsaw Manicure (2005)
Rick Ray Band - Temporary World (2005)
Rick Ray Band - Nothing To Lose (2007)
Rick Ray Band - Violence Marred By Peace (2008)
Rick Ray Band - The Setlist (2009)
Genre: Progressive Rock