Monday, December 24, 2012

Race Record Ramblings: Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks





Untrained by Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks

Gene Casey is in the driver’s seat with a disc that should wear out jukeboxes across the country. There are no A or B sides—all are sure to be first-rate coin cullers at the jukes. Let it be said at first, the man has a great voice. And the guy knows how to make a record. So does his band, The Lone Sharks.

Kicking off this platter is an autobiographical ditty, “I Think About Elvis Every Day.” He wonders what Presley might say, although about what doesn’t matter. Good riff and holler. They may never let Casey sing “Come Home with Me” on The Ed Sullivan Show (without changing to come out). But “Cadillac For Sale” is a road song that should make inroads at diners and gas stops along Route 66. The tracks also have a dramatic Spector-like drama that cries out for inclusion in movie soundtracks.

Gene Casey’s lower baritone vocals are his strongest weapon, his voice a picture-book blend between Ernest Tubb and Ronnie Spector. With a subtle hint of Lennon. Maybe he was born with golden pipes, but the lyrical diction Casey has developed comes from the ages. He knows how to deliver lyrics, has a good way with vowels and does killer background vocals. (Dig the way he enunciates a “soft p” on “Gone Hollywood,” a cut from his 2008 masterwork, What Happened.)

This may be esoteric praise, but to the masses, Casey is the premier barroom troubador of Eastern Long Island. That includes Montauk, the Hamptons on up to Riverhead and any town with an Indian name. But there’s no doubt he would sweep the Sons of Herman Hall crowd in Dallas off their feet, not to mention The Broken Spoke in Austin. A few $50 handshakes from Morris Levy or Don Roby would secure heavy rotatation in Southern radio markets (and reap teen coin amongst both bobby soxers and aging intellectuals alike).

As a guitarist, Casey has refined the Duane Eddy single-note lead line. But this album isn’t about showoff picking. Americana (which categorizes real music they don’t play on commercial radio) is rarely done with such exquisite taste and production. Untrained squares favorably against the latest Johnny Cash, Johnny Burnette or Junior Brown.


copyright 2012 Josh Alan Friedman