Greg “Stackhouse” Prevost – Universal Vagrant (2016) review
Greg “Stackhouse” Prevost – Universal Vagrant (Mean Disposition CD/LP, 2016)
Just to give some context for those who may still perhaps be unfamiliar with this one-of-a-kind artist, Greg Prevost was, as many will recall, the lead vocalist, harmonica blaster, tambourine smasher, mike stand demolisher and all-round chief instigator/spirit who led Rochester, NY, USA’s The Chesterfield Kings; one of most authentic 60s-infatuated garage-punk rock’n’roll combo’s this lonely planet boy has ever happened across.
The ’Kings were in operation from 1976 until the early-mid years of the new millennium. Upon their dissolution Greg soon adopted the “Stackhouse” moniker, started playing a lot more guitar and started work on a dirty ’n savage sounding slide-blues focused project which gave birth to “Mississipi Murderer”, his dangerous, yet cool blues-saturated debut, issued in 2013, also on Spain’s Mean Disposition imprint; and who’ve also got behind this latest gathering of songs. Universal Vagrant is an apt title for such a wild, uninhibited collection, and a title he shares with the Merry Dragons’ ace cut as featured on Vol 5 of the famed “Pebbles” compilation series. Prevost’s second long-play outing allows a wider, perhaps more panoramic view of just where this remarkable artist is at these days. Still overflowing with impassioned vocalising; blues-style diatribes hollered out from the soul yet, here, Prevost, who can really kick it out with some raggedly cool chord chops, and requisite riff-based structure also knocks, or rather bangs and stomps, on the doors of late 60s and early 70s filthy-sounding country R&B whump, yet always delivered with that defiant punk/hobo covenant-style bond which those of us who’ve followed Prevost’s musical trajectory for some time now have come to know and love. There’s much to get excited about here, but instead of an itemised blow by blow account of the proceedings, I thought perhaps pointing out to potential listeners a few of the key tracks (that, in my mind anyway, are absolutely essential items), would give a better flavour of how insanely great this album is.
A prime example is the bounding fervour that’s being whipped up in “Gin-Soaked Time Warp”, a loose, swaggering /staggering, almost ’Dolls-esque type gem that will no doubt leave you desiring to keep hitting the repeat button time and again letting it, ahem, soak right through into your bones … it’s kinda like the equivalent of an aural time-travel journal for high-spirited amnesiacs on the run from anything and everything. Wait a minute did I just say that! Ha ha! Another crucial, most definite winner and outright clincher here is “Lord Shine A Light On Me”, an utterly astounding piece irrespective of whatever timeframe, or style compartment you wanna choose to make comparisons with; imagine the heart and soul of one of Memphis Minnie, Son House or Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s more joyous telegrams comin’ alive and being reinterpreted through an abundantly soulful, confessional-style vocal and a bubblingly lithe, Stonesy/southern R&B style backing. Adding extra depth and power is the exceptionally gifted, heavenly-sounding female vocal backing. This renders the whole performance solid gold dynamite! They even get in a delightfully cheeky, clever nod to that most famous Ringo / Grease Band staple. That’s not all, as Prevost and pals, again including Zachary Koch on drums and Alex Patrick on bass, assorted guitars, keys… also present us with a cache of personalised renditions of some fave covers, including a brave reading of Muddy Waters’ moody ’n malevolent “Mean Red Spider”, Love’s harrowing junkie paean “Signed D.C.” and Buffy Saint-Marie’s counter-cultural anthem “Codine”.
All in all then I guess you could say, in short summary – and echoing a sentiment by mid-sixties Texas combo the Floyd Dakil Four – woah, stronger than dirt!
– Lenny Helsing
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