Command Performance - Tav Falco (Twenty Stone Blatt)
Memphis-born Tav Falco has been drawing inspiration from a deep musical well of swamp blues, soul and psychedelia since the early ‘80s. “Command Performance” is his first LP for five years.
Even though there aren’t many places he hasn’t toured, much of the world is yet to catch up with his music so “Command Performance” is another chip at that wall of mainstream indifference.
The man has assembled a significant body of work. At last count it was about 15 studio albums and nearly twice as many EPs. Now living in Europe, Falco likes to extend himself not only via music, but as an actor, photographer, filmmaker, author and artist across different media
“Command Performance” is a wildly varied bag that reeks of Falco’s role as champion of the obscure. It runs from bluesy rockers to a Dylanesque ballad, to a dash of zydeco, a Latin duet and all the way back to Americana rock and roll. This is a strength and a common thread on Falco’s records.
The re-working of his former collaborator Alex Chilton’s “Bangkok” is one of the best versions to date, its jarring yet almost jaunty delivery contrasting with the dark and troubled lyrics. The original, “Master of Chaos”, could have been written about Chilton and it’s delivered drily with a brief intrusion of fuzz guitar that works perfectly.
Charlie Feathers’ “Jungle Fever” gets the Falco treatment and ends up sounding like a Cramps song with a pop edge, but the bulk of these songs are written by Falco and his Italian bandmates. “Breakaway” could be a Stax soul song and “Whistle Blower” borrows heavily from Dylan, but Falco’s own edgy delivery makes every song his own.
The biggest surprise (although it shouldn’t be) is the cover of “He'll Have To Go”, a song made famous by Elvis, Bryan Ferry and (way back) Jimi Reeves. Falco and band lock into a strident groove and deliver a stunning and slightly psychotic version.
The thing that pervades this record is a sense of fun. Tav and his band sound like they’re having a ball. Falco is a man operating without the weight of label or public expectations and long may that be the case.
"Command Performance" is essential for fans and for if you’re not, it’s a great place to start. Score a copy from here.