Welcome to The Vinyl Word
A monthly column for vinyl enthusiasts from vinyl enthusiast, Tom Smith
Tom Smith is my name and I’m very excited for the opportunity to write record reviews for Green Bay City Pages. I’ve been working in Record Stores in Green Bay since October of 1984 (my start was at the Galaxy of Sound in the Port Plaza Mall) and I’m currently the manager of The Exclusive Company, 423 Dousman St. where I’ve been working since August, 1988. I also used to write for The Scene and Frankly Green Bay. I’m very nice and I try not to be very evil. I’ve also been promoting music shows in Green Bay since the 80’s at various venues including the Concert Café and currently at the Lyric Room (233 N Broadway.) While attending UWGB I was a DJ at WGBW (the student radio station, not to be confused with the oldies station in Green Bay that currently has those call letters).
My first album review is Bear Grease by Jeremy Scott, his debut solo album. This album is on Back To The Light Records, produced by Jeremy Scott and Graham Burks, Jr. Graham Burks, Jr. also contributes drums, percussion, mellotron, e-bow, and vocals. Jeremy Scott brings to the table guitars, bass, and vocals. As mentioned, this is Jeremy’s first solo release, but very far from his first foray into music.
Jeremy has been described as a Memphis legend, and I have a philosophy – when you hear someone from Memphis saying that some other person from Memphis is a local legend, I don’t argue. Jeremy’s extensive music resume includes the Toy Trucks and playing bass in the band, Reigning Sound. The Reigning Sound was my gateway drug to his wild musical world. The purpose of this review isn’t to talk up the Reigning Sound, but they are definitely on a very short list of the best bands from the last quarter century.
These are my immediate thoughts (and some secondary ones) from my first listen to Bear Grease:
If you buy one record this year, make it Bear Grease. Full disclosure, after hearing the new album by Algoma’s Hue Blanc’s Joyless Ones, I have to change this to, ‘If you buy two albums this year…’ Spoiler alert: my next review for this publication will be of the new Hue Blanc’s Joyless Ones album.
This album is great, it’s fun, it’s upbeat, it’s mellow at times, you get a taste of a rambling jam a la Neil Young. Bottom line, listening to this album makes me happy and is a great reminder of the power that music has on my psyche.
The music on this album has a timeless quality to it. When I hear someone using ‘timeless’ my mind thinks, ‘oh, they’ll love this record thirty-five years from now.’ I think I will love this record thirty-five years from now, but I know I would’ve loved this record thirty-five years ago. I’m positive this album would have been in heavy rotation in ‘80s in a stack of records that might include Soul Asylum, the Kinks, Flop, Lime Spiders, Redd Kross, and Cheap Trick.
The song, ‘Patron of the Arts’ is a total banger, and/or the rock anthem that 2022 needs. Speaking of the ‘80s, if I was back at WGBW DJing I’m sure I would have played this song sandwiched between ‘Love Removal Machine’ by the Cult and ‘Jesus Put A Bullet Through My Soul’ by the Skulls. I was playing this album for an employee at work earlier in the week and when he came in for his shift the next day I had Bear Grease on again and it was at the beginning of side two (‘Patron of the Arts’ starts off this side) he remarked that he had the song stuck in his head from yesterday’s one listen.
If you are a fan of melodic rock and roll with great, witty, and sometimes extraordinary lyrics, I highly recommend Bear Grease be one of two albums you buy in 2022.
I give this album eleven stars out of eleven stars.
This review is dedicated to Andrew Kruse-Ross, my late editor at Frankly Green Bay and The Scene, Mark Lanegan, and Dallas Good.
Tom Smith is the store manager at Green Bay’s Exclusive Company. He has a vast knowledge and a lifelong love of vinyl