Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mickey Hart - Mickey Hart's Mystery Box

After the passing of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia and the venerable band's demise, it was percussionist Mickey Hart who proved to be the most creatively resilient. As Deadheads and appreciators of world music can attest, Hart -- who is also an author and learned ethnomusicologist -- has been fusing genres ever since his debut release, 1972's Rolling Thunder, which included Native American sounds and motifs along with rock and jazz. Mickey Hart's Mystery Box harks back to that project with his first album of pop-oriented material in nearly a quarter-century. He combines the seemingly disparate world of percussion-based rhythms with traditional "Western-style" structures
containing lyrics by Grateful Dead wordsmith Robert Hunter. All the more diverse are the contributions of the Mint Juleps. This female vocal sextet features siblings Debbie Charles, Elizabeth Charles, Marcia Charles, and Sandra Charles as well as Julie Isaac and Debbie Longworth. Collectively, their paradisaical harmonies support Hart's occasional leads, while they're effectively incorporated as primary participants on the infectious groove of the opener, "Where Love Goes (Sito)," and the new wave vibe of "Full Steam Ahead," which is reminiscent of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club. The Hart-sung "Down the Road" offers a nod to the late Garcia and provides a focal point for Hunter's obviously heartfelt tribute. "Only the Strange Remain" resembles something similar to a latter-era Dead song, bringing to mind "West L.A. Fadeaway" and "Days Between," both in terms of Hunter's piercing insight and a practically tangible noir feeling permeating throughout. The bombastic "John Cage Is Dead" is a masterful amalgam of percussive-heavy world beats in an undulating modern context. "The Last Song" is an apt conclusion as cultures once again collide, yielding a tune that wouldn't have sounded out of place on urban contemporary radio. As the name of this 1996 release suggests, Mickey Hart's Mystery Box has a little something for every taste and reinforces the Grateful Dead adage "Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right." - by Lindsay Planer, AMG

Artist: Mickey Hart
Album: Mickey Hart's Mystery Box
Year: 1996
Label: Rykodisc
Runtime: 54:07

Tracks:
1.  Where Love Goes (Sito) (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Mint Juleps/Babatunde Olatunji/Zakir Hussain/Giovanni Hidalgo) 5:25
2.  Full Steam Ahead (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Mint Juleps/Zakir Hussain/Giovanni Hidalgo/Sikiru Adepoju/Karl Jenkins/Vinve Welnick) 5:18
3.  Down The Road (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Karl Jenkins/Vince Welnick/Giovanni Hidalgo) 5:59
4.  The Sandman (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Karl Jenkins/Vince Welnick/Mint Juleps/Zakir Hussain) 4:09
5.  The Next Step (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Karl Jenkins/Vince Welnick/Jeff Sterling/Zakir Hussain/Giovanni Hidalgo/Sikiru Adepoju) 5:23
6.  Look Away (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Mint Juleps/Sikiru Adepoju/Giovanni Hidalgo) 5:58
7.  Only The Strange Remain (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter)  6:24
8.  Sangre De Christos (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Karl Jenkins/Vince Welnick/Zakir Hussain/Giovanni Hidalgo) 4:14
9.  John Cage Is Dead (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Karl Jenkins/Vince Welnick/Zakir Hussain/Giovanni Hidalgo) 6:02
10.  The Last Song (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter/Mint Juleps/Sikiru Adepoju/Giovanni Hidalgo) 5:15

Personnel:
Mickey Hart (Drums, Timbales, Castanets, Claps, Vocals, Cowbell, Udu, Berimbau, Prepared Piano, Dumbek)
The Mint Juleps (Vocals)
Giovanni Hidalgo (Bongo, Timbales, Congas, Metal Percussion, Guiro, Cowbell, Bata, ) - 1-3,5-10
Zakir Hussain (Dholak, Shekere, Tarang, Djembe, Octobon, Udu, Dimri, Madal) - 1,2,4-6,8,9
Sikiru Adepoju (Talking Drum) - 1,2,4-6,10
Habib Faye (Bass Guitar) - 1-3,5,7,9
Jeff Sterling (Synthesizer, Burundi Drums, Low Bamboo) - 1-4,6,8-10
Babatunde Olatunji (Backing Vocals, Shekere) - 1,10
Airto Moreira (Bells, Caxixi, Percussion) - 2,4,6,10
Bruce Hornsby (Accordion, Backing Vocals) - 3
Mark Smith (Bass Guitar) - 4,6,8,10
Bob Weir (Guitar) - 4
Robin Millar (Marimba, Sine Bass, Computer Vocal, Keyboards) - 4,7-9
Taro Hart (Drums) - 6
Graham Wiggins (Didjeridoo) - 7
The Gyuto Monks Trantic Choir (Choir) - 7

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