Genuine Provocative Angst

Swan Boats @ Four (Published in Heaven Audio)
Paul K & Ron Whitehead

By David Lilly

If you weren't alive when Taxi was first on television, you've probably seen Reverend Jim in syndication. I'd pay real money to hear his reaction to this album. I would love to hear "Weird" Al Yankovic work his magic with a parody or satire of Swan Boats @ Four. I say that because this is a heavy 35 minutes. It deserves a good dose of levity, which, unless you're as full of angst as Paul Kopasz and Ron Whitehead appear to be, you might need that levity in order to get through it. I mean, it is sort of a cousin to any of the first four Dylan albums, and even Mr. Bob tossed in a few chuckles. That's not to say it's a bum CD; it rocks hard most of the time - even the folky acoustic intro is intense - and the intensity of all the music is equal to the intensity of the alphabetic content.

I'm not sure if there is a centerpiece to these three multi-part songs. However, I spent a week or so digesting and discussing "I Will Not Bow Down" via e-mail with Whitehead, a professor and poet I can't touch with my extended left arm, and a conservative friend of mine. In the end, I decided to let it go and remain apolitical. That verse, though, will have you either shouting "Yes!" with a fist in the air or possibly angry or repulsed. Anyone that hears it will react to it.

At the end of the day, or at the end of this CD, that is Whitehead's gift: his use of words and voice in a provocative enough manner that people will be moved one way or another. Paul K's gift is probably the same, but he also can write very good, intense and emotional music. While you might agree or disagree with the lyrics on this album, these guys have put together a solid record that defies all the rules of slick, corporate, assembly-line, cookie-cutter, chart-topping music. It's not a clinker; it's a thinker.

To delve further into the worlds of these intense and gifted gentlemen, try

for Kopasz and then

for Whitehead.