Shave the Monkey,
Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky
(Percheron, 2000)

Shave the Monkey has been around as a group for more than a decade. Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky, the band's fourth CD, shows they have a definite Celtic influence. They border between folk and rock, depending upon which song you are listening to.

As for where the title of this CD came from, the liner notes do not say. I would have to guess that it comes from the urban myth based on something Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong supposedly said during his first moonwalk. (If you are unfamiliar with the legend, you can learn more here, but don't forget to come back and finish this review.)

Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky contains 12 tracks, including several instrumentals such as "On the Edge," "Beyond the Paddington Slip/Rondedans Uit Arc-anieres," "Laayoune/Scavenger," "Scorchio" and "Hypochondriac/Cobra." The tunes definitely showcase the band's British heritage, putting a modern feel to an older sound. These pieces are Shave the Monkey originals, so perhaps it is the instruments themselves that make them sound as if they are modern renditions of a more traditional musical style.

Speaking of instruments, let me tell you who in the band plays what. Steve Collins plays melodeons, harmonica and guitar; Bryan Causton plays electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, mandocello and percussion; Duncan Moss can be found on the bagpipes, flute, saxophones (alto, soprano and sopranino) and hurdy gurdy; Guido Rincon takes care of the electric bouzouki, keyboards and acoustic guitar; and Kevin Neaves plays drums, tabla, percussion and steel drum. Daring to be different, Carolyn Sheppard sticks to a single instrument, the bass guitar. All band members contribute vocals at one time or another. The Fabulous Fekker Boyz provide backing vocals.

If I had to pick a song that stands out, I would have to say "Scared." The chorus touches on feelings everybody has had at some point or another. "I'm scared to live and I'm scared to die/scared to laugh, scared to cry/I'm scared of crowds, scared of being alone/I'm scared of love and scared of pain/scared of hate and scared of change/I'm scared to run, scared of going home." Carolyn provides lead vocals on this song and I would have to say that, based on what I hear, she is singing from the heart.

There is one song that probably shouldn't be on this CD, but I have enjoyed it nonetheless. "Hypochondriac/Cobra" has a heavy techno/dance beat to it. But the Celtic influence of Shave the Monkey's more traditional instruments keep up. They are not drowned out by the wave of repetitiveness familiar to the techno/dance genre. In fact, Shave the Monkey does a better job than most current bands I've heard trying to mix these different styles.

I have enjoyed listening to Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky. If you like modern folk-rock with a Celtic feel to it, I recommend you check out the band's website to learn a little more. You can even find a downloadable version of "Scared."

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 1 February 2003

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