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GOLD/Maggi, Pierce and E.J.

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Album Review

Not many people can honestly say that they went from playing with an alternative rap group to comprising two-thirds of a folk-rock trio, but that's exactly what happened with Pierce Temay and E.J. Simpson. Both of them were part of Philadelphia's early-'90s hip-hop underground when they played with a promising but underexposed group called the Goats, and they maintained their sense of adventure after going on to form Maggi, Pierce & E.J. with singer Maggi (who isn't fond of revealing her last name). Anyone who is capable of making the transition from hip-hop to folk-rock so easily obviously has eclectic tastes — how many musicians who were being compared to Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions in 1992 were inspiring comparisons to Peter, Paul & Mary and the Mamas & the Papas a few years later? Not that Maggi, Pierce & E.J. are a carbon copy of any folk-oriented groups that were popular in the '60s; Maggi, Pierce & E.J. (The Gold Album) underscores the fact that they have quite a few tricks of their own. While folk-rock is the foundation of this 2004 release, the Philly trio acknowledges quite a few other styles of music; during the course of the album, Maggi, Pierce & E.J. incorporate everything from jazz ("Jaded," "Flame") to alternative country/No Depression ("Fate Train," "Memphis in Your Hand") to Indian raga ("Dagger"). And Temay and Simpson haven't totally forgotten their hip-hop past; MPE makes a few hip-hoppish moves on the funky "Mr. Moon." But for all its eclecticism, The Gold Album never sounds unfocused or confused; MPE know exactly what they are doing on this unpredictable, far-reaching CD.

Biography

Formed: Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Hugely eclectic folk-rockers Maggi, Pierce & E.J. built a strong grassroots following through near-constant touring in the late '90s, even though their records were entirely self-released. Ranging from coffeehouse folk to rootsy rock & roll, country, jazz, pop, and the geeky, herky-jerky wing of alternative rock, MPE tied its freewheeling music together with smooth three-part harmonies and energetic concert performances in which all three members switched instruments at a dizzying pace. The group...
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GOLD/Maggi, Pierce and E.J., Maggi, Pierce And E.J.
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