BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
What began some 20 or so years ago as an all-star power pop conglomerate that allowed members to participate on their time off from their day jobs with other outfits, The Minus 5 has now evolved into a formal collaboration with an extensive resume of its own. Numerous esteemed stars have participated in the making of each of their ten previous albums — Jeff Tweedy, the late Ian McLagan, Billy Bragg and The Decemberists, among them – but these days Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck remain the dedicated constants. Consequently, Dungeon Golds is more about what the band boasts itself, as opposed to the glittering lights on the marquee.
And that’s the way it should be. Named for McCaughey’s basement recording studio, it gleans much of its material from the group’s exclusive Record Store Day release, Scott the Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror, a limited five album box set that’s currently out of circulation. Nevertheless, Dungeon Golds represents that content well, a vigorous, emphatic outing that offers little let up in terms of its energy and intensity. Opening anthem “My Generation” differs from the song of the same name by the Who, but its massed vocals and clarion call to arms is equally emphatic.
That’s generally in keeping with the rest of the album, much of which is composed of persistent buzz saw rockers along the lines of “Zero Clowns,” “It’s Magneta, Man!,” “In the Ground,” and “Hold Down the Fort.” There is some respite of course, in the harmonies and jangle heard in “Chinese Saucer Magnolia” and the steel guitar and country caress of “The Unforeseen.” So while the song titles may seem somewhat vague in terms of intent the music tied to them is anything but.
DOWNLOAD: “Zero Clowns,” “”It’s Magneta Man!,” “The Unforeseen”