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The Gentle Rain - Moody

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Artist: The Gentle Rain

Album: Moody

Label: Sunbeam

Review date: Jan. 17, 2007

Over the course of my music-nerd odyssey, I’ve had the honor of befriending a number of DJs, and I’ve heard them (not the community radio DJs or the wedding DJs, but the wick-wicka-wick, wheels-of-steel DJ-DJs) complain of a phenomenon than one of them calls “DJ’s disease.” They can’t really enjoy listening to music, at least not in the way that most of us do. When they hear a piece of music, they’re automatically, obsessively combing it for potential samples. If some of us listen to pop records in a similar fashion to that in which we read books, a DJ-DJ might do it like a giant word find, or a Jumbler, maybe. If the typical mind seeks essence through repetition, a DJ’s mind is forever extrapolating from fleeting minutia.

I imagine that, for a person harboring a full-blown case of DJ’s disease, this Gentle Rain record would be sweet torture. So much incredible stuff there for the pilfering! This collection of instrumental covers, released in 1973 and quickly forgotten, takes the unapologetically simple work of Lennon/McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Laura Nyro, Sly Stone and Bill Withers and recasts it as lush, eerie symphonic soul, as humble as grocery store Muzak yet as complex as the heaviest, nerdiest jazz. As soon as it seems to be driving toward the emotional “truth” of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Across the Universe” or “You are the Sunshine of My Life,” it’s off on some wild tangent all its own. It’s an exquisite contextual change-up that just begs to be recontextualized itself.

While the Beatles were blasting their brains with acid and TM, Nick Ingman was in school and at work, studying music, playing music, loving music and figuring out how to make a living off of music. His mind began to combine his beloved jazz and rock with the big band funk and easy listening that his then-boss, producer and A&R legend Norrie Paramor, was cashing in on. Moody came together slowly, but it finally brought his obsessions in line with his workaday skillset. An enviable cast (Alan Hackshaw on the 88s, Clive Hicks on the guitar, Kenny Wheeler on the horn) takes turns in the spotlight, while Ingman himself counters their practiced cool with the insidious Moog funk.

At the time, the record quickly disappeared. A lot of people still regarded pop music, particularly some of the stuff covered here, as a serious philosophical discipline. A lot of people still do, I suppose. But there are others who, although they don’t think a catchy tune will ever save the planet (or even pay back a serious emotional investment), still take a lot of pleasure in taking it apart and wondering how it works, be they DJ-DJs or regular music nerds. For them, Moody is a treasure chest filled with riddles and joys.

By Emerson Dameron

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