Ithaca s mercurial musical legend Johnny Dowd never fails to surprise us. A man who absorbs influences like a chameleon absorbs it s surroundings, Dowd returns with his new studio album, once again pushing that envelope a little closer to the precipice. A full-blown, take no prisoners rock & roll gem, Do The Gargon, unites Dowd alongside his two sonic wing commanders, Michael Stark on keyboards and Willie B on drums and bass pedals, who again provide the rhythmic framework on which Dowd unveils his latest absurdist vision, that of The Gargon. As Dowd explains, Do The Gargon was recorded and mixed at The Shop in Willseyville, NY. Mike played a fender Rhodes piano thru various pedals. Willie B played drums and bass pedals and gong, and I played a baritone and sissy guitar. Oh, yeah, I did the vocals along with my buddy Gargon. The record took about two weeks to make, which is plenty if you know what you re doing. From the opening Gargon Gets All Biblical, it is clear that Dowd has left behind the bruised, stark Americana of his earlier albums and moved into an altogether broader, more playful rock n roll arena. The beats are relentless, addictive and driving. Dowd s guitar playing is menacing, ferocious and truly inspired throughout. There s rock, blues, and even some deconstructed funk thrown into the pot as Dowd draws on his many musical influences. The title cut Do The Gargon was inspired by one of my favorite oldies, The Monster Mash. Dowd explains. Like all my records, we flirt with different musical genres. I was listening to a lot of Betty Davis and ZZ Top, so maybe some of their influence crept in. But, really, at this point it s mostly self-referential. I think it s my most toe-tapping record so far. I like it. With many of Dowd s albums there is a theme. Do The Gargon is no exception. Again, Dowd himself explains, The recurring theme of the record is an incident in my (or was it Gargon s?) past. A young boy abandoned at a filling station in year of our lord, 1953. Did this happen? Is it a memory, a dream, or a lie he (Gargon) told himself to justify all the nonsense that followed? Nothing is clear. Nothing needs to be. Make your own mind up. In the process, listen to one of America s true visionary artists conjuring up one hell of a sound. Do The Gargon may well be Dowd s masterpiece. Well, until the next one I guess.
It's idiosyncratic, inimitable, rich entertainment. --Uncut
There's nobody quite like Johnny Dowd. --Uncut