Chris Brokaw and Geoff Farina – The Angel’s Message to Me

January 01, 1970



title track of Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine) and Geoff Farina’s (Karate, Secrete
Stars) collection of early pre-World War II songs comes in the form of a
Reverend Gary Davis instrumental that follows a pretty simple pattern over its
three minutes. Repetitive does not mean boring though, thanks to an unexpected
chord change (years after this was written, a surprise like this would be
called a hook) and crisp guitar picking that Brokaw and Farina do so


might be simple music, melodically speaking, but it can be a challenge for the
average guitarist to get inside the song and make “St. James Infirmary” or “Stagger
Lee” their own statement and not simply a tribute to some classics. The former
song represents a good example of their approach: the vocals understate the
bleak subject matter – which has often been performed like a shouting blues –
and when the time comes for a guitar solo, an electric tremolo git-box blends
modern with classic sounds. Along with the occasional electric guitar, Brokaw
adds some droning organ to give things a little more kick. “Sitting On Top of
the World” and “O Death” might be familiar song titles, but these have none of
the heavy weight of the versions by Cream and Camper Van Beethoven,
respectively. In fact, this “O Death” is a completely different tune, more of an
instrumental waltz that plays out more like a sweet processional than a story
about some trying to cheat the grim reaper.


to The Angel’s Message to Me, it
becomes clear that Brokaw and Farina have a good feel for old blues, ragtime
and folk styles, and that it also fits well into their own musical pasts, which
have depended on the ability to combine passion and understatement.


DOWNLOAD: “Poor Wayfaring
Stranger,” “Guitar Chimes.” MIKE SHANLEY


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