Guarnere, Matthew D (MDG) - M.D.G.

Year of Release: 2001
Label: What's Real Unlimited
Catalog Number: WRCD 1132
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:46:00

Matthew D. Guarnere's M.D.G. EP is a homage (though not merely) to the artists that have influenced him. You don't need to hear the interesting interview that concludes the CD to guess this, as one can clearly hear echoes of ELO in the first track, "A Little Chemistry," for example, and echoes of other artists throughout the six-track disc. With this first track you can also mention Pyramid period Alan Parsons Project with a dash of Mannheim Steamroller keyboards, as this latter element has that bright, brassy sound. Personally, in Guarnere's vocal delivery, I thought of Spock's Beard. And if you think of that band's more traditional rock 'n' roll aspects of their sound, then this will also give you an idea. Ethan Porter offers up some Brian May like guitar, though Queen will play a larger role in a later track.

The song takes on a whole different cast in the remix version called "Chemistry Experiment," though the Spock's Beard feeling remains (not a band he mentioned in his catalog of influences, and as most of this material was originally written before the first SB album was released, it's an anachronistic reference). In a way, I hear a bit of latter day Kansas in there, too. In the interview, MDG mentions he thought the song could have been on the Xanadu soundtrack and listening to the last few synth notes on this, I'm inclined to agree. Aside from vocals, MDG also plays drums, percussion, guitar, and programming. He coaxes some great performances from his guests as well, Robert Scribble on piano, synthesizers and keyboards; Porter, Jay J. Palermo, Mike Gallagher and Mike Ciranni on guitars; A.D. Zimmer on bass; and Paul Smoker on trumpet.

"White Trash Wonder" is a funky, full-on, often Aerosmith-esque, rocker taking aim at the folks who wind up on Jerry Springer. They are all too easy targets nowadays, and given the proliferation of these so-called reality shows, revealing everyone's real misery has become profitable, never mind now manufactured the "reality" is. The lowest common denominator has won, and I suspect it won't be long until both dramas and comedies are a thing of the past and the TV airwaves are filled with Springers, Fear Factors, and Survivors. Not to mention stuff like Behind The Music were the tragedy's of today and yesterday's rock stars are laid bare -- I haven't seen one yet that didn't reveal a time when one or all of the band members' lives hit the skids aided by drugs and alcohol. But then, it wouldn't be quite as compelling otherwise, would it? .... It took me a bit of thought, but in a way one might also mention Billy Joel's "Bigshot." Lyrically there's some kinship, but it's a bit heavier as rocker than Joel has ever gotten, though "Bigshot" comes close.

If you think that "You Never Have Grow Old My Dear" sounds a lot like Queen... well, it is parenthetically titled "(Song For Mercury)." You can't point to any one Queen song, but keeping in mind pieces like "The Show Must Go On," "Who Want To Live Forever" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," -- and knowing that Guarnere delivers this with same kind of heartwrenching emotion as only Mercury himself could have done -- will give you some idea. It doesn't venture into the same epic sweep that the mentioned Queen tracks do, but isn't any the less for it. There are some May-like guitar leads, this time from Gallagher, and some expansive organ-like sounds from Scribble. The impact that "The Show..." and "Who Wants..." is apparent here. And, if you recall "More Of That Jazz" from Jazz, where you get a reprise of every song that preceded it, "M.D.G. Records Remix" does the same thing -- though I'm not suggesting Queen were the only ones to do it... If Queen and Mercury weren't given a few nods here, I'd not be making the same comment -- commenting yes, but the reference would be different. This remix also features Smoker on trumpet.

Though I don't recall Guarnere mentioning Meatloaf or Jim Steinman in his interview, there are moments during "Where's Everybody Gone?" that remind me of "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad." It's a mellow, acoustic based piece that, like "Two...," deals with relationships that have ended. Of course, Queen's "39" also comes to mind, especially in the harmonized voices.

The material here is good, and MDG demonstrates he's got a terrific voice. Fortunately, he doesn't resort to mimicry in his material. Any specific references are signposts, not blueprints. And, it's a testament to his recording techniques, as the liner notes clearly state that "no harmonizers were used for voice enhancement..." (MDG is both lead and backing vocals) "...only CAD microphones and infinite patience." It's retro and fresh at the same time ... but way too short. Fortunately, there's a second disc available from MDG at with more material. I quite enjoyed listening to this CD.

The music portion is 24:27, the interview is 26:19, making the total playing time 50:46

A Little Chemistry (2:27) / White Trash Wonder (3:01) / You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear (Song For Mercury) (4:40) / Where's Everybody Gone? (3:09) / Chemistry Experiment (5:00) / M.D.G. Record Remix (6:10) / bonus: Guernere interviewed by Scott Van Dusen

Matthew D Guernere - vocals, drums, percussion, guitar, and programming
Robert Scribble - piano, synthesizers (1) and keyboards (3)
Ethan Porter - guitar (1, 5)
Jay J. Palermo - guitar (2, 6)
Mike Gallagher - guitar (3, 6)
Mike Ciranni - acoustic guitar (4, 6)
A.D. Zimmer - bass (2, 3, 6)
Paul Smoker - trumpet (6)

The Mass Produced Cassette (cass, oop) (1986)
M.D.G.'s Mass Produced Casette Vol. II (cass, oop) (1987)
M.D.G. EP (cass, oop) (1988)
M.D.G. Mass Produced Cassette Vol. III (cass, oop) (1988)
What's Real - 'You Never Have To Grow Old, My Dear (Song For Mercury)' (cass, oop) (1992*)
What's Real - What's Real (cass, oop) (1993)
M.D.G. CD 1986-1988 (CDR, oop)
Radio U - I Think It's This City (cass, oop) (1994**)
Radio U - Still Stand (CDR/cass, oop) (1995**) The Crux - The Crux (CDR/cass, oop***)
Full O'Faith (CDR oop) (1998)
M.D.G. (2001)
MP3.ep (oop) (2002)
'Underachiever' (2002)
M.D.G. '03 (2003)
'Roadmap' (2004)

*incl. on M.D.G. (2001); **remixes avail. on M.D.G. and the oop Mp3.ep (2001-2002); ***remixes avail. on oop Mp3.ep (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: November 17th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1368
Language: english


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