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Michael Hall's solo career, that started with the mostly acoustic and spare
Quarter To Three (Record Collect, 1990) and rowdy anthems like
Congratulations and Roll Around Heaven This Way,
peaked with Love Is Murder (Safe House, 1992), equally divided between
philosophical meditations (Love Is Murder) and blasphemous sermons
(Let's Take Some Drugs And Drive Around).
Hall then started the Setters (Watermelon, 1993), a supergroup with
Alejandro Escovedo and
Walter Salas-Humara of Silos.
A live 1991 performance of the trio will be released as
Dark Ballad Trash (1995).
Hall's Don't Love Me Wisely and River of Love are not among
his most daring compositions.
Adequate Desire (Dejadisc, 1994) marks a turn towards a senile, romantic
form of ballad (Under The Rainbow With You, Merry Christmas from Mars),
although his songwriting remains impeccable.
Frank Slade's 29th Dream (Dejadisc, 1995) is an experimental work that
came out of the blue: the title-track is a 38-minute concerto for small chamber
ensemble, sort of Proust put to the music of the Velvet Underground (the
death dream of a soldier).
Day (Dejadisc, 1996) is a concept album, carefully arranged with
trumpet, keyboards, and violin (Susan Voelz), and featuring members of
Poi Dog Pondering
The song cycle is symmetrical, starting with a bleak portrait of
Los Angeles and ending with an apocalyptic portrait of
Las Vegas, sandwiching everything else between two dejected, horror
stories like Their First Murder and Ghosts. The arrangements
are funereal at best.
Back again in Austin after years of travel around the world,
Michael Hall formed the Woodpeckers with veterans of the
Texas music scene and released Dead by Dinner (Blue Rose, 2000),
whose first song, I Can't Believe You Touched Him sounds like vintage
The 10-minute I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground is worthy of Neil Young at his best, while In The Crypt With Eleanor,
If You Knew How Much I Wanted You and
No One Can Tell You When It's Time To Leave
are delicate vignettes that evoke a neurotic version Leonard Cohen.