Review Allen Shadow
King Kong Serenade
Reprinted from:   Blue City Records By Joe Hartlaub

I really wanted to like King Kong Serenade more than I did. Allen Shadow is a pseudonym of Allen Kovler, a poet and performance artist who left New York City in the 1980s and sought fame and fortune in Nashville as a songwriter.

Tiring of playing the songwriting plugging game endemic to Music City (he has a number of interesting stories involving brushes with near-fame) he returned to his New York City roots for subject matter. The result is King Kong Serenade, a rock portrait of the city recorded, ironically enough, in Nashville.

Shadow is an extremely capable songwriter; his words speak, and his music rocks, with authority. Tracks like "Downtown," "Crossroads of America," "Hopper's Town," and "You, Coney Island" are as authentic as word pictures as many of Lou Reed's best works, and the arrangements have kind of a drugged aggressiveness to them that is just about perfect.

Where things break down though, is on Shadow's delivery, which is alternatively anemic and bombastic right where it shouldn't be. Shadow is too often overwhelmed by his own arrangements on his own songs. It's unfortunate, because when taken as a unit King Kong Serenade is like an aural tour of mid-town Manhattan. Next time I visit, in fact, I may bring the disc with me on a Walkman, and walk down Broadway at night between 57th and 40th, listening to it, just to really soak it up.

While King Kong Serenade is a flawed work, it is one that, in balance, will probably endure as one of those discs that will be passed around and listened to for years. I can't think of a recent disc that really captured the feel of New York City the way that Reed, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits did a couple of decades ago. King Kong Serenade demonstrates that, as a topic for inspiration, New York City, in the right hands, is inexhaustible.


Home | Music | Reviews | News | Bio | Road | Buy | Lyrics | Poetry | Photos | Newsletter | Links | Site Map | E-mail

Web Site Design: ElectricStage Studios: Webmaster