Thursday, 17 April 2008

THE INSECT TRUST: The Skin Game


It starts like country blues, but it's not staying there for long; Nancy Jeffries' vocal is approximately a trillion times purer than her city deserves, even if it's New York. "Sun shines in the country," she intones at a clear and prominent volume, "and it lights up the sky" as lonesome horns lend a couple of sympathetic taxis to the quiet(ish) protest. "Sun comes to the city and it goes right on by." She decorates every syllable of "ev-err-y-thing" in "everything is tall here - nothing is high" with relishable saliva.


She is finding the warmth oppressive rather than liberating: "You know I love you/But I just can't love you IN/Summer's over, sweetie, and the heat's on inside." She is suffocating and yearns to breathe properly, free of material or other unnecessary worries. Buy it all on credit, then someone picks her pocket. "Peel another lighter" goes the perhaps Velvets-referring refrain, "find out what's inside."


Then the song gets derailed, just as noble folkies The Insect Trust got detoured by a couple of saxophonists with other ideas, one of whom (Robert Palmer) went on to become a critic of critical importance; and everything dissolves into harassed free play, Palmer and Trevor Koehler overblowing like refloated tickertape, guitarist Bill Barth seemingly throttling his bottleneck, crashing and chaosing before Nancy and the original song return; but do we risk catching fire if we're too curious about lighters? It was 1968, and fires were blazing up above as well as down below.

No comments: