Bill Mumy — The Landlord or the Guest
(Global Recording Artists, 2007, CD)
Bill Mumy — Carnival Sky
(Global Recording Artists, 2009, CD)
Bill Mumy — Speechless
(Global Recording Artists, 2009, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2010-07-01
If his name sounds a little familiar, it may be because many will remember him from his appearance on numerous television shows going all the way back to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Lost in Space. Others may remember him as half of Barnes & Barnes, whose novelty song “Fish Heads” made a big splash on the Doctor Demento show many years ago. For the last fifteen years or so Mumy has produced a series of excellent releases showcasing his skills as a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, of which the three at hand – all well-produced do-it-yourself projects, are his latest. On the acoustic guitar-centric The Landlord or the Guest, we have fourteen thoughtful and brilliant songs that aren’t overwhelmed by their accompaniment – Mumy plays an array of acoustic and electric stringed instruments, with occasional keyboards and drums supporting. For the song purists among us, this is probably the one, although its follow-up Carnival Sky is every bit as exceptional, though perhaps a bit more electric and eclectic, with a much stronger blues influence, and a bit more instrumentally gruff – but always strongly melodic. Of his singing and songwriting style in general on both of these releases, one reference point might be the best work of Paul Simon in the 70s but without all of Simon’s reggae and world music trappings.
Speechless is an entirely different matter. An album of twelve instrumental cuts that on the surface (and at the core) bear little resemblance to anything on the other two discs, it seemingly embraces a wider instrumental palette (certainly a lot more keyboards, synths, and treated guitars) and a more deeply introspective feel. More along the lines of the instrumental soundtrack-like symphonic electronic based music one might find on the Spotted Peccary label, this is clearly not rock – although sometimes it does bear elements borrowed from the rock idiom, especially in their propensity for liquid electric guitar solos. Each of these pieces is a self-contained vignette that stretches out in a multitude of different directions, no two the same. Some stronger jazz and classical influences come into play here as well, the latter especially on some of the keyboard driven pieces. All taken, each these three releases offer something different, and all come highly recommended.
Related artist(s): Bill Mumy
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Arti e Mestieri - Tilt & Giro di Valzer per Domani – Much ink has been spilled about the drumming of Furio Chirico and for good reason: the guy is phenomenal. He is all over the place using all available musical space yet is never bombastic or... (1994) » Read more