As we approach the end of 2011 and begin to enter the magical, mystical year of 2012 with the coming of the end of the Mayan calendar and the poorly predicted end of the world, I can’t think of a more fitting album of the year than Garland Jeffreys “The King of In Between.” Living in the now, waiting for then.
It has been over ten years since Jeffreys released a new album and it was well worth the wait. And he was missed.
A recent reviewer called “The King of In Between” a career defining album. That’s a tough call. What would he call “Ghost Writer” or “Escape Artist”? Or one of the best live albums ever recorded with “Rock & Roll Adult”? The live version of “Cool Down Boy” alone could be called career defining.
And then there is one of the most important albums of the last century, 1991’s “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat” which rates in importance with albums like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Ghost of Tom Joad.” But I digress.
Certain artists don’t have one career defining album because the vast majority of their work always rises to the top. Like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Bob Marley, Garland Jeffreys is one of those artists.
“The King of In Between” opens with the rocking “Coney Island Winter” bringing out all of the best NYC rock and roll has to offer, which keeps him in the ranks of other NYC rock and roll poets Lou Reed and Patti Smith. The love letter to the city continues later on the album with the ska infused “Roller Coaster Town.”
The album is as much a love song to NYC as it is to the songs and styles that come from it’s artists. “Love is Not a Cliche” and “Rock and Roll Music” are joyous odes to music.
He still tackles tougher subjects with the 70s soul feel of “Street Wise” and the timely “All Around the World” where he tackles the subject of greed and corruption that are in the headlines daily. It should be the theme song for the Occupy Everywhere movement.
“The King of In Between” also takes an honest look at life through the eyes an aging troubadour. The rocking “I’m Alive”, bluesy “Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me” to the poignant folk blues of “In God’s Waiting Room” where he sings:
Still be laughing at death
When God’s finger points to me
Let’s hope that’s not for awhile. He closes out another five star album with a cover of the David Essex song, “Rock On.”
Please do Mr. Jeffreys. Please do.