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The Sad and Tragic Demise of Big Fine Salty Black Wind

Universal Congress Of

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Album Review

I think that after this record's hot opening track, "Freight Train," and anyone would want to hang around to hear more. Sad and Tragic Demise..., along with being one of the most cumbersome titles in rock history, is a winning mixture of funky backbeats, jazz dissonance, and twisting and turning rock & roll. Baiza spends more time than usual singing on this record, and that's not always a good thing — his vocal range is limited as is his expressiveness — but his quirky, understated guitar playing shows the influences of Blood Ulmer, Sonny Sharrock and James Brown's great guitarist Jimmy Nolen and is what makes up for his enthusiastic, but limited singing. Tracks like "Tight Heat," "Uh Huh," and "Small World" are little gems that bob and weave around grooves so tight you couldn't pry them apart with a crowbar. While this record may disappoint those hoping for more spacious, flexible, expansive "jams," for those who like the splank sound of a thumb popping a bass string, or the crisp bang of a snare drum, UCO delivers the goods, and then some.

Biography

Formed: 1986

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Led by ex-Saccharine Trust axewielder Joe Baiza, Universal Congress Of began as the title for Baiza's 1987 solo record later becoming the name of his fine, funky backing band. Although on his debut solo LP he was still playing semi-improvised, avant-garde jazz-rock similar to what he was exploring in Saccharine Trust, Baiza/UCO's later (and for my money better) work was more structured and song-oriented. Although he continued to show a talent for all-out free playing and gnarled, aural jazz damage,...
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The Sad and Tragic Demise of Big Fine Salty Black Wind, Universal Congress Of
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