THE TUNNEL OF LOVE
2 AM IN THE TUNNEL OF LOVE (Glorious)
~review by Mick Mercer
Okay, you’re going to love this. Meet Jeff Wagner, everybody. He’s a character and a bit of a card, even a bit of a cardsharp, I shouldn’t wonder. Capable of blending in to any scene with his tricky noir tableaux he scoots about from Edward Hopper primetime to Mars Attack, from 1950’s B Movie kitsch through 60’s juvenile trickery, and on through the decades until he arrives with a freshly microwaved all-purpose timebomb. You’ll be impressed.
Initially, ‘Sugarplum’ sees his sly delivery scratching itself over curvy guitar and cackling keyboards the spooky tale brings to mind a young Alex Harvey, which is a good thing. The instruments are busy, but their tone pared down to allow the vocals true eminence. Then it slops about in ‘Midnight (At The Beach)’ with that Monster Mash meets lo-fi B-52’s mulch and you know the jumpy sound I’m talking about with a slightly crazed, tremulous voice. Scurf’s up, as the pained lyrics are squashed tight by the dizzy music and some scaly Goth guitar muscles in.
‘Hall Of Mirrors’ is a delightful, short instrumental, after which ‘Torch (Part II)’ sees ‘Happy Days’ evoked, in a warped punky spree; wonderfully slinky, just a little bit plinky, and it shows how he can be brilliantly inventive by making this a cohesive form, not quirky, which is usually just another term for revolting. These songs shamble about with cruel charisma.
‘It Wants In’ doesn’t, so I lied. I apologise. This is the duff song of the collection, as a rakish drawl competes with arid guitar and something doesn’t quite spark, but ‘Stupefied’ soon sees Jayne Mansfield’s ribcage vibrate with delight over the slim, grinding sample-packed noise-fest, and there’s great fun to be had with ‘Invisible Stan’, putting the agony in protagonist, with some very unusual sounds woven into a seriously distinctive song.
‘Bat-House’ is full of weird guitar, low bass and sparkling, teeth-jangling keyboards, reminiscent in many ways of exceptionally early Alice Cooper, which is a very good thing. ‘Russia’ is an instrumental that borders on pretty, and I have decided to avoid the untitled extra track, as it’s just alien spacey keyboard trivia, and I claim ‘Nicely Done’ as the true closer, with languid guitar, lambent bass, brash, slow drums and a dramatic vocal on a noxious, gaslit journey, with a great ending.
I can’t really compare him to anyone. That in itself should be recommendation enough.
(heed the warning first, before entering) where the Mandrake The Magician
of sound has some fantastic Links.