First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2006, Volume 13, #6
Written by John Metzger
Featuring 27 tracks spread across two discs, itís safe to say that Frank Blackís Fastman Raiderman contains a little something for everyone save for those fans of the Pixies who have been perplexed by the myriad of avenues that he has pursued since embarking upon a solo career in 1993. Although it was recorded over the course of nearly two years, Fastman Raiderman feels as if it sprang from a single session as Black further refines the Nashville-imbued flavors that crept through last yearís Honeycomb. Right from the start, with the beatnik groove and Van Morrison-esque chorus of If Your Poison Gets You, itís clear in which direction Black is headed, and the bulk of the album is kissed as much by the sad-eyed wistfulness of country as it is by the radiant passion of southern soul. Not that Black doesnít dip into his customary array of classic rock influences, too, tucking the Rolling Stones into Fast Man, Creedence Clearwater Revival into Kiss My Ring, The Band into My Terrible Ways, The Doors into The End of Summer and When the Paint Grows Darker Still, and both The Beatles and Bob Dylan into Wanderlust. However, the overall ambience of the endeavor is decidedly different from anything else that he has ever done.
Nevertheless, there is one big problem that plagues Fastman Raiderman, ultimately keeping it from becoming something greater: its pacing. Much of the first half of the collection is unhurried and ruminative, while the latter portion of the set packs a bit more of a punch. Yet, for all of the distinctive textures that Black employs ó and, ambitiously, the full range of the Americana spectrum is represented ó each of the endeavorís two distinctive segments inevitably becomes a tad too monochromatic for the outing to function as a whole. Make no mistake, though. With few exceptions, the material is strong, and supported by an all-star cast that includes, among others, P.F. Sloan, Al Kooper, Steve Cropper, Spooner Oldham, Buddy Miller, and The Bandís Levon Helm, Black wrings everything that he can out of his songs. Despite its flawed layout, Fastman Raiderman proves that Honeycomb was no fluke and that Black is as engaged as ever in his art.
Fastman Raiderman is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box