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Last of the Old Time

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Album Review

Chuck Brodsky retains his usual sharp wit and his usual interests on his fourth album, Last of the Old Time. He sings in a friendly wheeze over easy-rolling folk-country arrangements played by a sympathetic band of pickers. His familiar folk-based melodies are simple and rudimentary, and the entire musical effort wouldn't count for much on its own if it didn't act to support all those clever words. Brodsky is very much a student of Bob Dylan, who earns a name check in "He Came to Our Town" and is nearly quoted in "40 Years." But Brodsky has his own viewpoint, one that he expresses in broad, sarcastic humor that has no room for subtlety. "Take It out Back," the leadoff track, presents a rural approach to garbage disposal that is all too accurate, but it displays a light touch compared with the following song, "The Boys in the Back Room," an indictment of governmental corruption that pulls no punches. Brodsky is equally critical of politicians in "He Came to Our Town," and, no surprise, expresses extreme disapproval of "Schmoozing." But, as anyone who has heard him before knows, as much as he despises political hypocrisy, he loves baseball to distraction, and there are two more examples of that devotion, "Gone to Heaven," a biography of "The Clown Prince of Baseball," Max Patkin, and a complete account of the notorious game between the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs in 1908 that birthed the legend of "Bonehead Merkle." The affectionate country humor of "Take It out Back" is repeated in the generalized observations of "In the Country" and in the specific — and absurd — customized directions of "3rd Dead Cat" ("It's just past the third dead cat/Just past the one that's especially flat"). In such songs, the comedy is as reminiscent of Mark Twain as of the early Dylan, and just as welcome.


Born: 20 May 1960

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

With songs like "Blow 'Em Away," "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Talk to My Lawyer," Chuck Brodsky initially attracted attention for his biting sarcasm. But, as his albums demonstrate, Brodsky is equally skilled at storytelling with such modern ballads as "The Hands of Victor Jara," "Bill and Annie" and "Long Story Short." In addition, Brodsky has written several baseball-related tunes that have been included in the archives of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. These include...
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Last of the Old Time, Chuck Brodsky
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