Been a Long Time
First Appeared at The Music Box, June 2002, Volume 9, #6
Written by John Metzger
Beginning an album by covering John Lennonís Working Class Hero is a gutsy gesture. Lennon delivered his song as a stark, solo acoustic performance so powerful, so raw, and so emotional that itís hard to imagine anyone ever improving upon it. But thatís exactly what former Mekons-member Rico Bell attempts on his recently released, limited-edition EP Been a Long Time.
For the record, Bellís version of Working Class Hero doesnít come close to matching the mastery of Lennonís, but it does make for an intriguing start to an album that deserves wider release. Indeed, Lennonís shadow and spirit hang over many of the tracks, occasionally peering through songs like the Sam Cooke-soul of Sweet Loving or the Louisiana pop of Iíll Go On Living (Till the Day I Die). For Bell, these are sounds he first heard forty years ago clamoring through the static of his transistor radio. Here, he lovingly reflects them back through time, incorporating everyone heís heard along the way from David Bowie to The Band to The Clash.
In a world where albums are increasingly bloated affairs, Bellís charmingly efficient Been a Long Time is a refreshing change of pace. Thirty minutes. No filler. Many miles of musical ground. And instead of wearing you out, it leaves you wanting more. Ĺ
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box