Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hopewell - Good Good Good Desperation

(Tee Pee, 2009)

About four years ago, I was making money on the side by transcribing interview tapes for a book about music videos. One of them was with a very famous director, who had a funny anecdote involving Michael Jackson. Since the story didn’t make it into the book but still gets me tittering every time I think about it, I’ll (unethically?) post it here for all you billions of readers to enjoy:

“Vincent came in and I was just delighted to meet Vincent Price. … Then he said to me, ‘Can you help me?’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ He says, ‘I did this vocal for Michael, he asked me to do it, and they paid me scale. I have a vocal on the biggest-selling album of all time and I get no money.’ … So anyway, years later, I’m at the Tower Records on Sunset, and it’s late at night, eleven o’clock, on a Saturday night. I was with my son, who was quite little. And there’s Vincent Price. And this is when the first scandals were starting with Mike, years later. And Vincent booms out to me, in that voice, you know, powerfully, ‘What do you think about our friend Michael?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. I want to think that it’s untrue.’ And Vincent says, so everyone can hear him, ‘WELL HE CERTAINLY FUCKED ME.’”

And what of Hopewell? Well, it bums me out to report that their new album, which sees the band continue its rapid evolution into a psych-tinged theatrical-rock act, is a far less entertaining affair than the crude utterances of Vincent Price. The Birds of Appetite was the first of their records to really display this change of direction (though, in retrospect, it’s clear that the seeds of their current sound were present in Jason Russo’s work from the beginning), but that album succeeded precisely because it didn’t go for the non-stop heavy-handed dramatics that sink most of Good Good Desperation, from the apocalyptic lyrics to the experimental missteps to Russo’s high-pitched, curiously Perry Farrell-esque wailing. The whole thing’s better labeled a disappointment than a disaster, and there are a few high points, particularly the 7”-worthy title track’s glammy, druggy stomp, which is more or less the band’s earlier “Calcutta” shoved through some fucked T. Rex filter. The B-side of the single, “Opus Part II” (an edited version of the album’s “Preamble Part II”), showcases some ho-hum harmonized sighing a la the Beach Boys’ “Our Prayer” before bursting into full-band, Big Rock gestures. Eh. Certainly no need at this point to panic in the streets and swear off Hopewell – heck, this 7” is pretty darn ownable – but the group’s recent material marks an obvious low.


Donald Brown said...

Vincent Price was my favorite actor when I was in grade school; I can still watch "The Pit and the Pendulum" enthralled by his hammy theatrics. I gave MJ credit for using him on the track; didn't know he really 'used' him. Great story though.

Too bad the single doesn't live up to that clever Beach Boys revision: 'good, good, good desperation' has promise as a title.

ithinkihatemy45s said...

Criminy, I somehow managed to miss that BB connection. Good catch!

Jason said...

This is the best Jackson coverage I've heard all week. Tell me you made copies of that stuff for yourself. That's gold.

ithinkihatemy45s said...

Yup, I made certain to keep copies. There are some great Paul McCartney stories on there too.