CRIMSON VIM – From Paradise to Here
If paradise can be defined in musical terms as the adolescent coming-of-age of rock when technology didn’t exceed the performances and when innocence was tempered with bold exploration, then for rock ‘n’ roll it hasn’t been all that far to here. Crimson Vim’s debut recording will transport you instantly to the days of vinyl: the late sixties–early seventies marriage of pop melody with fuzztone guitar. Some of these melodies will sound a bit familiar but so will the marriage of funk, rock and soul to which Crimson Vim pays homage. The mix is a bit muddy but damn if it doesn’t sound just like those old platters we used to stack on a spindle and spin. The only thing missing, really, is the scratching sound of the needle cutting the groove. The liner notes don’t mention it, but if From Here to Paradise wasn’t recorded on analog, I’ll become the India rubber man, bend over and kiss my own ass.
The centerpiece of Crimson Vim’s sound is the vocals of Eric Kjelland. Strong, smooth and soulful, Kjellan, who also plays with Fallen Roadies, is expressive in his delivery. Shades of Rod Evans (Deep Purple’s original singer – think “Kentucky Woman” and “Hush”) can be heard and a host of others from the same era, no doubt. Nick Fry, formerly with Envy and Middletown, turns in an exceptional performance on lead guitar, recycling every great guitar tone and style from rock’s golden era. The slide guitar on “Nothing Left But You” is exhilarating and the wah on “Lanes” drives home the neo-psychedelic overtones. “Hands on my Face” is another solid track that demonstrates Kjelland’s vocal range and control, while the instrumental in the middle section builds nicely. Not all the songs are of the same caliber and, as with most CDs, there are perhaps a track or two too many. “What If,” for example, feels like the obligatory valley, a ballad that is a bit too simple, although played well.
A couple of the last tracks, however, sound as if they may have come from a different recording session altogether. On “Stew,” Crimson Vim suddenly has a bit more modern sound and approach. The vocal mix until that point uses nearly the same reverb which adds to the throwback feel, but here they begin to change it up a bit. The music begins to have a sharper edge, losing some of the breezy feel of the CD’s earlier tracks. “High Walls,” the album’s closer, is a heavy, Zeppelin-esque piece of mood rock that showcases the tightness of the rhythm section.
From Paradise to Here may not grab you right away but with a couple of repeated listenings you begin to appreciate the album for what it is: not a groundbreaker and not a re-hasher, but an honest and competent homage to the true elements of rock and what makes it so enduring.