Cool Down Time, Private Music CD
0100582133-2, 1996 (39:53)
Cool, as in hot
Dan Zanes is hardly a household name, although you may
have heard of Del Fuegos. Zanes fronted the popular Boston
guitar band through three albums, but after their breakup in
1989 he took a hiatus from the music biz. After much soul
searching and playing some gigs around New York to
rediscover his muse, Zanes is back with a solo album of
stripped down R&B-flavored guitar songs.
As the disc's title implies, Cool Down Time bubbles and
simmers just this side of a boil. Minimalism is the order of
the day here for Zanes and his two sidemen, Mitchell Froom
on keyboards and veteran session-man Jerry Marotta on drums.
Zanes' tight and angular rhythm guitar is impressive, awash
in chunky distortion and vibrato. Marotta's drumming is
tastefully understated, but always there in the pocket when
you expect him.
It's hard to imagine this disc without producer Mitchell
Froom's keyboard artistry. Zanes' spare guitar style gives
Mitch plenty o' Froom to stretch out on organ and electric
piano (a mix of B-3, Farfisa, Wurlitzer, and Rhodes).
Throughout, he provides both texture and rhythmic interplay
with Zanes (supplying many of the bass parts on keyboard).
And as usual, his production - abetted by longtime henchman
Tchad Blake behind the board - is top flight.
Most of the tunes strike a bemused and world weary tone,
largely due to Zanes' dark lyrics and low-key vocal style.
His soulful rasp is like an old friend, at once familiar and
believable. "No Sky" uses jazzy overtones and cleverly
oblique lyrics to describe meeting a new love interest ("No
sky burst into flames/Rocks did not melt/Just an ordinary
day/When everything changed"). Zanes' preoccupied delivery
turns this into an oddly detached sort of love song. Even
through its downbeat lyrics about a doomed relationship
("This ship we're on is burning/Strange but I've been
yearning/While I'm losing everything I've got/You put me in
a rough spot"), the churning "Rough Spot" is catchy as hell,
thanks to its greasy vibrato guitar riff. The slinky "Little
Blue Suit" is a definite keeper, with Froom's distorted
Wurlitzer playing so fat and rich that it brings a smile to
my face every time I hear it. "If You Live" (a Mose Allison
song) features a primo organ solo from Froom; it combines
the spirit of gospel and the heart of 60's punk, coming off
like a church sermon in someone's garage. "All Time Girl" is
a rootsy shuffle that sounds like a cross between Diddley,
Holly, and Petty (aka Bo, Buddy and Tom).
A few of the slower songs drag a bit, but this is still a
very worthwhile effort. If Zanes keeps making music this
good, he may join the ranks of other legendary performers
(Zappa, Zeppelin, Zevon, and ZZ) at the far end of the
alphabet. - Scott Boggan
Glenn Brooks says... Froom and Blake also worked wonders
on Los Lobos' "Colossal
production notes & song titles
Dan Zanes, vocals, guitar; Mitchell Froom, keyboards;
Jerry Marotta, drums, saxophones, vocals; Tom Lloyd,
Produced by Mitchell Froom; recorded and mixed by Tchad
Blake; mastered by Bob Ludwig.
Tested | No Sky | Rough Spot | Cruel Cold Feeling |
Darkness Before Dawn | Little Blue Suit | All Time Girl | No
Sense of Time | If You Live | Carelessly | Tic-Tac |
Treasures of Love