Dirty Linen - 06-07/03, p.84
"...Brimming with character....there's an apocalyptic urgency that propels songs such as 'Ain't No Time to Bleed' and 'Before Everything Changed'..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 4/03, p.1123 stars out of 5
- "...Disc two takes the listener on a 26-minute hallucinatory ride down Andersen's wild-and-woolly memory lane...'
Personnel: Eric Andersen (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano, organ); Sarah Anderson, Phoebe Snow (vocals); Robert Aaron (guitar, melodica, flute, tenor & baritone saxophones, trumpet, piano, electric bass); Eric Bazilian (electric guitar); Billy Masters (electric slide guitar); Garth Hudson (accordion, tenor saxophone, piano, Hammond B-3 organ, Mark Eagan (bass); Michael Visceglia (electric bass); Shawn Pelton (drums); Phoebe Snow, Lucy Kaplansky, Sari Andersen, Lucy Kaplansky, Katia Cadet (background vocals).
Recorded at Theater 99, New York, New York between April and May, 2002.
Personnel: Eric Andersen (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, piano, organ); Sari Andersen, Phoebe Snow (vocals, background vocals); Robert Aaron (guitar, flute, melodica, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet, piano, organ, keyboards, electric bass); Eric Bazilian (electric guitar); Billy Masters (slide guitar); Joyce Andersen (violin); Garth Hudson (accordion, tenor saxophone, piano); Mark Egan, Michael Visceglia (electric bass); Shawn Pelton (drums); Dennis McDermott (hi-hat, shaker); Katia Cadet, Lucy Kaplansky (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: David Seitz; Robert Aaron.
Recording information: Theater 99, New York, NY (04/2002-05/2002).
Author: Bob Dylan.
Photographers: Christophe VonHohenberg; Carol Rothman.
Beat Avenue is 60-year-old Eric Andersen's most ambitious album, a 90-minute tour de force that encapsulates his musical and lyrical concerns over a lifetime. The music is often-dense rock dominated by a rhythm section led by guitarist Eric Bazilian of the Hooters. Equally dense is Andersen's highly poetic versifying, which he sings in his gruff baritone. Andersen is world-weary in these songs, roaming the globe haunted by the past and fearful of the future. He confesses to a reckless youth, but acknowledges that he can no longer afford such license. "What once was Charles Bukowski," he sings in "Before Everything Changed," referring to the free-living beat poet, "is now Emily Dickinson." The ballads and love songs "Song of You and Me," "Shape of a Broken Heart," "Under the Shadows," and "Still Looking for You" are rendered tenderly, but they are also full of regret and loss, past-tense reflections that recount memories of love long gone. The first disc of Beat Avenue is complete and formidable unto itself, but there is a second CD consisting of two lengthy songs. The title track, running more than 26 minutes, is a beat poem with jazzy accompaniment by Robert Aaron in which Andersen recalls a poetry reading he attended as a 20-year-old on the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac come up in his reminiscence, along with friends and fellow musicians, as he conjures up the sound and feel of the early '60s in San Francisco and pinpoints a moment when history changed, revealing how it felt for one young observer. This isn't folk music of the type with which Andersen is generally associated, and it can be demanding of the listener, but it is also a compelling transformation of memory into art song. ~ William Ruhlmann