Album review: DAN STUART – The Unfortunate Demise Of Marlowe Billings

DAN STUART - The Unfortunate Demise Of Marlowe Billings

Cadiz Music [Release date 20.07.18]

Green On Red were a brief mid-eighties reincarnation of the spirit of The Byrds, Neil Young, Dylan, and the Stones.  Featuring Dan Stuart on vocals, and Chuck Prophet on guitar they made an album in 1985 – Gas Food Lodging – which amongst the faithful is considered to be one of the finest albums of the decade, if not all time.

For those who fell under its pre-Americana charm, it’s the hook on which an attachment to the subsequent works of both Stuart and Prophet are anchored.  But as one apt review put it ‘the world wasn’t listening’, and I have to confess I fall into that category, so come to this release from ground zero.

It’s the third and final part of a trilogy – The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings (2012), and Marlowe’s Revenge (2016) by Stuart’s alter-ego, and said to be his final full length record.  The companion piece to the first part was a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.  The Unfortunate Demise – similarly spawns a companion novel.

Like on the two former parts of the trilogy, Stuart remains uncompromisingly true to his roots with nary a shred of commerciality in evidence.  But retracing his footsteps isn’t easy, and to truly appreciate what’s on offer here, I suspect it’s a journey you had to have begun in 1980s.

Certainly there’s some evocative ‘Americana’ style playing, and Stuart unquestionably bears his soul with a degree of raw honestly seldom encountered on record these days.  That will no doubt please fans, for whom this is likely to be one of the albums of the year.  But for the uninitiated, I’d suggest starting at Gas Food Lodging, and working forwards.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley


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