Bedlam Rovers
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Frothing Green , 6/10
Wallow , 6/10
Bermuda Triangle Service , 6/10
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I Bedlam Rovers appartengono al movimento folk di San Francisco degli anni '90, che prende spunto in egual misura dai folksinger di protesta degli anni '60 e dal punk-rock degli anni '70. Il sound del gruppo si ispira ai 10,000 Maniacs e ai Cowboy Junkies, con Caroleen Beatty nei panni di Merchant/Timmons, ma e` piu` vicino a un folk di stile britannico che guarda semmai a Richard Thompson e a Billy Bragg.

Wishing Well (comparsa su una compilation locale) presentava un gruppo "celtico" con una foga alla Pogues; ma per il primo album Frothing Green (Heyday, 1990) il gruppo muto` direzione, abbracciando la causa della canzone di protesta hippie degli anni '60 (Objectivity). Pur senza rinunciare a belle melodie (la title-track), a chitarrismi aggressivi (Recycle Or Die), a una sezione ritmica quasi ska e soprattutto al magico violino di Cynthia Wigginton, i Bedlam Rovers si erano pero` votati alle cause civili.

Preceduto dal 10" Roll Over (Spirit), con la languida Scream, il secondo album, Wallow (Spirit, 1993), aggiunge spezie ska e quadriglie e soprattutto un piglio quasi hard-rock. Perso Jeremy O'Doughaill, che era stato il principale compositore, il potere e` passato a Marko "Soapbox" Sakmann (cantante e chitarrista) e il sound si e` fatto piu` pesante e dissonante, ad imitazione dei Mekons (Big Drill), con le inflessioni ska piu` prominenti (Difference).

Con gli X-Tal (dai quali hanno talvolta palesemente copiato), i Bedlam Rovers rappresentarono un'originale variante del folkpop di San Francisco.

(Translated by G. E. Light)

The Bedlam Rovers belonged to the San Francisco folk movement of the 1990s, itself inspired in equal measure by 1960s protest folksingers and 1970s punk-rock. The group's sound was inspired by the Cowboy Junkies and 10,000 Maniacs, with Caroleen Beatty cast as Merchant/Timmons,, but in reality the group has more connections to a British folk style which looks to Richard Thompson and Billy Bragg.

"Wishing Well" appeared on a local compilation, Devouring Our Roots - San Francisco's New-Folk Uprising;(Alias, 1990), and suggested a "Celtic" group who enthusiastically mimicked The Pogues., but for the first album <I>Frothing Green</I> (Heyday, 1990), the band changed directions, embracing the cause of 60s Hippie Protest songs ("Objectivity"). Without giving up beautiful melodies (the title track), the band melded aggressive guitars ("Recycle or Die") and a ska-like rhythm section to the magical violins of Cynthia Wigginton. The Bedlam Rovers remained devoted to civil causes and political activism.

 

Preceded by the 10" "Roll Over", (Spirit), The 2nd album Wallow (Spirit 1993) adds spices and ska quadrilles and above an almost hard rock quality as evidenced on "Scream." Losing Jeremy O'Doughaill who had been the primary songwriter, the band turns to guitarist and singer Marko "Soapbox" Sackman. At the same time the band's sound shifts, becoming heavier and more dissonant in imitation of The Mekons ("Big Drill") but also with even more prominent ska inflections ("Diffrence").

 

With X-Tal [from whom they sometimes copied) The Bedlam Rovers represented a unique variant of San Francisco folk-pop

 

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Bermuda Triangle Service (Bermuda Triangle Service, 2000) was Cynthia Wigginton's next project. Wigginton's material ranged from sumptuously arranged baroque madrigals (Kukui Lei) to instrumental folk music for small ensemble (Spring Of The Lizzies), from spare, surreal country dirges (Motel 5) to solemn blues lullabies (Shaka Cowboy, the best showcase of her violin playing). The last of these bizarre fairy tales, Last Dada Dance, is a psychedelic drift with creative vocals that sounds like Meredith Monk fronting the Holy Modal Rounders. Wigginton's new project was both daringly erudite and tenderly innocent.

Bermuda Triangle Service's High Swan Dive (2004) was a broader excursion with a stronger rhythmic emphasis. The best songs are engulfed in an atmosphere that is both exotic and childish (Pokerhuntus Was Her Name, High Swan Dive). Perhaps too many songs use a very slow tempo, although at least one, the closing Last Dada Dance, does so in a mesmerizing manner. The "Hawaian" lullaby Kukui Lei, with the violin leading a slow elegant dance, is the catchiest tune, but the eerie Caine is easily the most original track here.

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