American musician Bobby Bare, Jr. got a hard smack, and wrote his best album about it.   

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Bobby is son of Grammy awarded country musician Bobby Bare, Sr. He was raised in strongly musical environment in Memphis. So much so that he was nominated for a Grammy at his age of 6 for a duet with his father “Daddy What If”. It was written by the family’s friend, Shel Silverstein. He made a huge impression on Bobby, Jr.’s song writing technique. Wrote with and had all his songs critiqued by him, till Silverstein passed on in 1999. “To take an idea and push it as far as you can and then push it a whole lot further” – was his ars poetica. Shel Silverstein was a poet, writer, singer/songwriter and cartoonist. For example he has written “25 Minutes to Go”, “A Boy Named Sue” and “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”. The first two have become popular by Johnny Cash, the third was written for Dr. Hook, but also was recorded by Lee Hazelwood and Marianne Faithful. (Anyway he wrote the lyrics and music for most of the Dr. Hook songs.)

Thanks for these circumstances, his talent and the fate, “Undefeated” is the best album of Bobby Bare jr. so far. Thanks for The Fate above all. But “thanks” is maybe not the best phrase in this case. The fulfilled love, joy and happiness are never so stimulating to create master pieces* like desire, sadness, broken heart and trials. In his own words, this is a “pretty confessional”, “getting dumped” album about end of his relationship with the mother of his youngest child, or “My Baby Took My Baby Away”

And his ex-baby didn’t want to hear anything about his emotions. So it seemed the only way to tell her his feelings if he writes those to songs. Diverse moods and situations have inspired these various explicit songs. Almost all have a different kind of style. There’re danceable, almost new wave and old Americana tunes, a bit of ragtime, alternative country and rock. One of those is just like a Butthole Surfers song on this true adult oriented really alternative rock album. Unfortunately I can’t put it completely here.

Bobby Bare Jr.’s Young Criminals’ Starvation League – “Undefeated” LP, CD, digital on Bloodshot Records (USA). Young Criminals’ Starvation League is his ever-changing group of musicians, including members of Lambchop, My Morning Jacket and many more.

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* But the exception proves the rule. One of the best albums of all time, Histoire de Melody Nelson (1971) by Serge Gainsbourg is fruit of a fulfilled love.

 


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