All the Way with Tommy Jay

!!! Columbus Discount Begin Their Campaign for 2008 with 3 New Releases !!!

The real treasure of this recent batch is the re-issue of Tommy Jay's Tall Tales of Trauma -- originally released as an Old Age/No Age cassette in 1986 it's been generally unheard, ignored, and somewhat lost in the shuffle until the kids from Waverly so graciously unearthed it.

Tommy Jay has always been in the mix -- writing songs and playing drums for the Quotas or the True Believers farther back, collaborating on a number of Nudge Squidfish self-releases -- but even as an equal in the now legendary Ego Summit, his contemporaries main projects (V-3, TJSA, Bassholes) out shined Jay's dark horse status. Only now does one realize that his "Novocaine" was the fulcrum of the entire project. He was the poignant, coherent, folkie among a barn full of well-medicated genius.

The balance between these crisp psych-folk nuggets and direct contact with the lunatic fringe (be it "little black jelly beans," blotter, and blue oyster cults) make Tall Tales a rewarding time warp through twelve years of Central Ohio lore. In the record's earliest documents (circa '74, Timberlake) the Velvet's influence is obvious, not just on the cover of "Ocean" but also in "I Was There," a jangly, kaleidoscope of bittersweet pop that never edits his repeated guitar freak-outs. Into the 80's the specter of Lou Reed (or perhaps more referentially precise, the echoes of Mayo Thompson) loomed large in Jay's voice, phrasing, and tragic moods evoked, still the mysticism of Harrisburg is the overwhelming resonate. May I be crucified for such statement, but Tall Tales is infinitely more colorful and strange than any Reed solo venture (save Berlin), because it's the quirky folk record Reed never made. It tip-toes around Indian burial grounds, abuses cheap-drug in dingy basements, chronicles the lives of gypsies, tramps, thieves, murderers, the village idiot and the quintessential anti-hero in all of us (who may or may not still live on Weber Rd.)

Back to that lunatic fringe -- the cast of characters Jay surrounded himself with give the songs their creepy (and often beautiful) skin. Squid's pedal-steel synth on "Memories" transforms it into dim-lit neon honky-tonk or the flute and harmony provided by Jennifer Eling and Mike Rep respectively on the Joni Mitchell cover "Dreamland" is the closest thing to Laurel Canyon sunshine these ears have heard in the Columbus pantheon.

But the star here is Tommy Jay and his paradox sparring a warped ideal of weird America ("Last Hurrah," "Fear of Shadows," "The Bugmen") against a couple shots at cult eternity (in the straight-faced demeanor of "Old Hemingway" or the heart-felt "Lust, Honor and Love") is truly an emotional and sonic blur which always makes for the world's most cherished and puzzling musiques. Treasure indeed.

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