Review by Rusty W. Spell

No matter what they say, I still associate the title with the author, Herman Melville. You can have your pedal steel guitar guy and all, but I have too much of the literary and seafaring life in me, and I choose to be stubborn. Maybe it's because I finished reeling in Moby-Dick about the time I got this album.

This isn't my favorite album cover, not that it's bad (can Martin do bad?). The word "dull" comes to mind, but I refuse to use it (especially since I saw the full "letterboxed" version on Double Live and it's anything but dull). DaveB's picture is nice, Martin's is good but too dark. I wish DaveC's wasn't at the drums: Drummers like me and Dave have the right to be away from the set once in a while. And Tim's picture is nice; I always wonder where rock stars get their T-shirts.

I wish that they would have included song credits in this one. They have in the other major albums. At least we got lyrics.

Overall, Melville to me acts as the transition between Greatest Hits and Whale Music (which only makes sense, I reckon), leaning more toward the latter musically. Lots of it to do with Michael Phillip-Wojewoda. I think they realize by now that they are--as Bidini writes--altering the everyday mindset of music-lovers... at least the ones they can get to.

Yes, where Greatest Hits is tolerable to folks who listen to "normal" music, Melville and onward takes a different sort. My dad shut it off while riding in my car and said, "Sorry... I just can't take that anymore." There's his review.

"Record Body Count" is interesting because it's a true story (except for the death bit, of course, and Joey still lives on in at least two more songs afterwards anyway).

I think Martin's infatuated with aliens (aliens and monkeys). In a healthy way, though; I don't picture him as an X-Files addict or anything. At any rate "Aliens" is great, and it was cool to hear it sung in Polish once.

"Northern Wish" is very pretty. Some of my favorite Rheos songs are when Martin sings a Dave lyric.

I admit that "Horses" is very powerful and all, and I do like it (there's no song I really dislike... kinda, well maybe), but it's not one of my favorites. I think it has something to do with the music playing second-fiddle (not quite, but almost) to the story.

"Christopher" begins Martin's infatuation with the word "it," always stressing it in songs and what-not. Of course, for some reason, I've never been able to get into the song much. I'm not sure why.

Thanks, Natalie Gillis, for translating "Chanson Les Ruelles" for me. I got all of it right except the chorus. I thought they were saying "Perhaps we'll make someone smile/mad in the United States"; I couldn't figure out which. I like the song: a clear melody indeed.

I like the Biblical stuff in "Lying's Wrong," and not just the "Biblisong #1" either. There's always--to me--this religious feel to their music.

"It." Again, the it. One of my favorite Rheos songs ever (not to mention one of my favorite songs by anyone ever) with one of my favorite passages: "I am a science boy..." etc.

"When Winter Comes" runs like an epic. I love it; kinda summarizes the band at this point. I'm not sure about "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." I give the boys credit for making such a redundant song so interesting. But I almost wish they'd have just relied on their own "Saskatchewan" to get the job done.

"You Are Very Star" is wonderful. It makes me feel pleasant, in that nursery-rhyme sort of way. When I first heard this, I went around writing the sentence on everything. I had it printed on my new batch of checks. The ending on the radio is neat and stuff, but I tend to turn it off now since it's not music. I've been waiting for a "real" version of this song for a while.

Call me Ishmael. Love, joy, peace.

Copyright (c) Jun 1996 - Dec 2004 by The USA Rheostatics Page