Back in the '60s, most white blues fans trying to play the music took the approach of struggling to sound as serious and authentic as possible, and a big part of the charm of the Insect Trust's debut album is that, by accident or design, they went in an entirely different direction.
While the Insect Trust were clearly and affectionately influenced by classic blues and folk, they were also eager to mess around with it, and Robert Palmer and Trevor Koehler's horns and woodwinds often throw this music into a loopy, atonal, and acid-infused direction while the loose, slightly rickety sound of Bill Barth and Luke Faust's guitars and banjos honors the styles found on vintage 78s just as their rock-oriented chops keep the results from sounding as if they spent much time actually learning the original riffs.
Given the loose but insistent backporch funk of this music -- perhaps held in place by guest musicians Bernard Purdie, Hugh McCracken, and Chuck Rainey -- the sweet tone of Nancy Jeffries' vocals seems a bit out of place, but she never seems less than committed, and she gives "World War I Song" and "Declaration of Independence" a full-bodied reading that fits their meaning, if they don't sound especially "bluesy."
And the final two cuts, "Mountain Song" and "Going Home," take off into a never-never land of pastoral avant-garde whimsy that exists in a world all its own. the Insect Trust refined their worldview on their second, last, and finest album, 1970's Hoboken Saturday Night, but their debut has more than its fair share of lovely moments and is an engaging example of roots music fans letting their freak flag fly with righteous joy.
by Mark Deming
1. The Skin Game - 4:07
2. Miss Fun City - 5:04
3. World War 1 Song - 3:18
4. Special Rider Blues - 7:45
5. Foggy River Bridge Fly - 1:07
6. Been Here And Gone So Soon - 3:29
7. Declaration Of Independence - 2:30
8. Walking On Nails - 3:12
9. Brighter Than Day - 2:31
10.Mountain Song - 2:49
11.Going Home - 5:10
*Bill Barth - Electric, Steel, Bottleneck Guitar, Percussion
*Steve Duboff - Percussion,
*Luke Faust - Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals
*Nancy Jeffries - Percussion, Vocals
*Trevor Koehler - Upright Bass, Drums, Piano, Piccolo, Baritone Sax, String Arrangements, Wind
*Joe Mack - Bass
*Hugh McCracken - Guitar
*Bob Palmer - Alto , Soprano Recorder, Clarinet, Percussion, Alto Sax, Wind
*Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Drums
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*Buddy Saltzman - Drums
*Buddy Southman - Drums