Review Allen Shadow
King Kong Serenade
Reprinted from:   Blue City Records
The Daily Freeman By Terry Ross

Allen Shadow is a true rock poet, in the tradition of Nick Cave, Dylan, Tom Waits and Walt Whitman, a rock poet who believes rock music is still in its infancy, and hopes his current work will add to the development of the art. On his new CD, "King Kong Serenade," he throws out baby, bath and car seat along with competition for the best nursery schools, singing songs from the seedy, lovely bottom of newly purchased baby dishes, which might have seen duty as ashtrays.

Along the way he delves deep in the akashic plain of lore about New York City, a city once filled with opium dens; where lions fought grizzly bears in rat-stomping stadiums on 14th street; anarchists blew up Wall Street and the Bowery Boys established the New York style.

At a time when many are wondering about the future of New York City, Shadow's work is a lovely repast, truly--an abnormally poignant journey--through yellow bejeweled images and the splendid squalor of one of the world's greatest microcosms.

The album's songs invoke spirits past of Times Square, the Beat writers, jazz greats, the Lower East Side, Coney Island, and the Bronx.

For instance, in "Empress of Night," Shadow sings a prophetic love letter to NYC:

she makes sure we see
her shadow from the street

And in "Downtown":

in the cracked Brooklyn glass
Mohammed's face does dance
in bomb ticks from time past
star-sickened romance
eyes, heat, life, chance
the subway snakes the tenements

Shadow (a.k.a. Allen Kovler) cut his teeth on the poetry circuit, writing two books of verse: "Harlem River Baby" and "A Heart in the Anteroom", published by Quik Books during the 1980's.

His music interests led him to a stint in music city, Nashville, where he wrote for Polygram, Sony, and Mel Tillis' music publishing company.

Despite working with such artists as Trisha Yearwood, Shadow, like many literary song writers before him, ultimately decided Nashille's formulaic canon was too limiting. Consequently, he returned fully to his poetic voice, this time marrying it with the music as he had always intended.

This record is a lovely, poetic passionate missive written to the city of New York. At a time when she has received many love letters, this is one of the most eloquent of them all.

Written before the recent troubles, "King Kong Serenade" meets the new standard of poetry that seems to be developing, which is--how does it play after Sept. 11? The music of Allen Shadow is not affected by infamy--steeped in history and mental reality programming which afflicts every human being right between the eyes. Shadow was truly authentic in the first place.

Allen Shadow will be performing unplugged and solo at the Catskill Gallery, Greene County Council on the Arts, 398 Main St., Catskill, on Saturday at 6 p.m. For details, call (518) 943-3400.


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