Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, March 2010
Polk Salad Annie
Coming soon is the new album from leading Australian entertainer, Mick Gerace.
With the clever title, Geraceland, the album is a stunning set of Elvis tracks potently remixed for a contemporary feel and vibe by the outstanding music production group, Groove-Quatize.
Adding great value to the album, Mick Gerace is backed by the Sweet Inspirations, guitar legend, James Burton and hip-hop artist, Tone-Z.
EIN's Nigel Patterson takes an inside look at the album, track by track.
opens with a pounding backbeat and spoken intro, a combination which twists, turns and has the throttle on reverb. The Sweets
are very noticeable on backing vocals and Gerace takes the listener on a funky, blues sojourn. Along the way he evokes fierce images of alligator infested swamplands, juicy watermelons, moonshine and women you wouldn’t take home to meet your mother anytime soon. This musical interpretation of the Tony Joe White’s classic is powerfully fresh and inviting. A great opening to the album!
Feeling In My Body is a dynamic contemporary remix of a little known Elvis soul masterpiece. Gerace’s deep vocal inhabits an expansive musical territory and again the Sweets lend impressive backing. The track was released as a single in 2007 (read EIN’s review).
Wearin’ That Loved On Look, one of the many standout tracks from Elvis’ iconic American Sound Studio sessions in 1969, takes on a new feel as the mix punches out cool beats and grooves. A cute spoken section, mid-track, adds an intriguing element before Gerace settles into the repetitive “Baby, baby, you’re wearin’ that loved on look” which forms the final stanzas of a great song. The track features an assured balance between Gerace’s piercing vocal and the outstanding Sweets, as the funky instrumentation hits home.
Next comes a blistering My Babe, a song many fans will remember from Elvis’ triumphant Las Vegas performances in 1969-70. Opening with pounding beats and a Gerace vocal which threatens to become frenetic, this is a sublime recording. Appropriately, Gerace's strong vocal is supported by backing which is loud in your ears; a wall of sound full of pounding drums and warbling, wailing guitar, the combination of which builds to a big finish and is sadly over far too soon.
Slick guitar rhythms take us for a ride on the Mystery Train with Gerace’s voice sounding as though it is resonating inside a wind tunnel. A strength of the recording is some mighty fine guitar work by the maestro, James Burton. The inclusion of contemporary beats also neatly complements a cool end stanza and the result is a toe tapping delight! It is always great to hear visceral, contemporary mixes of this rockabilly gem.
Hip-hop artist Tone Z features on Stranger In My Own Home Town. Gerace and his team struck gold when they considered bringing a rap beat and vocal to some of Elvis’ music (many would have said it couldn’t be done, but Geraceland proves them wrong). “Can’t keep a good man down” becomes almost a duel between between Tone Z and Gerace as they respectively wax and wane across the mournful lyrics. With strong echoes of the march of time (the old meeting the new: Gerace versus Tone Z) this is a big, beaty musical offering for the listener to savour.
The second single from the album was Child In The Ghetto. On Geraceland, this remix has reverted to its original title of In The Ghetto.
Mick Gerace and his team have completed 5 versions of the remix track.
EIN reviewed Child In The Ghetto late last year when we said:
Child In The Ghetto is a great contemporary take on In The Ghetto. From the opening sound of police sirens, through its punchy rap line and pounding backbeat, this is a potent 2009 mix - it is as powerful and relevant as In The Ghetto was in 1969.
Gerace's "Elvis" vocal is nicely complemented by Tone-Z's rap lyric, giving the song a fresh and engaging feel. It is always a treat to listen to both guitar legend, James Burton, and the beautiful sound of the Sweet Inspirations, and their combined backing support to Gerace on Child In The Ghetto is a delight. (EIN Note: Check out Mick's website regarding 5 versions of In The Ghetto recorded by Mick as part of the Geraceland recording sessions)
A certain US
President and the Sweets intro a vibrant Walk A Mile In My Shoes
. Gerace’s lyrical flow is compelling and complemented by a restrained Tone Z
background rap vocal. The music is impressive with a heady mix of beats, grooves and waveforms producing an aurally satisfying experience. The Tone Z
solo lyrics potently draw attention to the struggles and surrender to temptation which symbolise the situation faced by far too many of society’s less fortunate. Rich-poor.......black-white.......the underlying political messages are an eternally strong reminder of how easily we can forget.
A quiet initial “Talk to me baby” build up to If You Talk In Your Sleep gives way to a vocally understated slow interpretation. Gerace is very at ease with his deep vocal nicely paced and pitched to give another of Elvis’ lesser known recordings a vivacious modern punch. If You Talk In Your Sleep was a largely unappreciated moody Elvis ballad from 1975. The Gerace recording is the most understated remix on the Geraceland album but loses nothing of its moody strength. In fact, over-synthesisation of the track would probably have destroyed it. Keeping the remix simple works in its favour and allows the listener to rediscover a great song!
The final track opens with a piercing and frenetic vibe. Then Gerace’s plaintive voice starts to soar across the unmistakable lyrics of Burning Love.......
.......Burning Love has been the subject of several contemporary remixes in the past decade including the less than successful 2006/2007 remixes involving a Honda CRV auto and Elvis vs. Mathias K. However, Gerace’s team have got it right! From its infectious, toe tapping introductory beat, the whole production smacks of quality with the lead vocal bouncing and echoing nicely off smart backing sounds. The outcome is invigoratingly fresh and unlike the staid Oakenfold effort; the latest remix is one you want to hear again and again.
Verdict: Geraceland is the best set of recordings yet put down by the immensely talented Mick Gerace. Sublime remixing by Groove-Quatize is vital and refreshing, and the well modulated blend of lead vocal, backing vocals, rap and contemporary grooves all combine to reinvigorate part of the Elvis canon and offer a powerful concoction of soul and funk all wrapped up in a blanket of big, big sound. Have a listen to this album. You won’t be disappointed!
Proceeds from the sale of Geraceland are being donated to No Ghettos. No Ghettos is a creative endeavour established by Mick Gerace and Mark Bosci as a funding body for worthy organisations around the world which are helping to empower those living in slums and ghettos.
Visit NoGhettos.com for more information
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