Tracks & Treasure Review

Don't you love your hard drive?  I find all kinds of things on there.  Here's a nice review of Tracks & Treasures Vol 1 by Fred Mills, ace music writer.


P. Hux   Tracks & Treasure Volume 1

(nine18 records) www.parthenonhuxley.com

 

Tarheel ex-pat Parthenon Huxley, currently based in the D.C. area and a member of ELO (aka "The Orchestra"), has a sterling rock ‘n' lineage stretching back to a series of seminal mid/late ‘70s Chapel Hill indie combos. Along the way, he's earned a reputation for being the consummate pop craftsman, steeped in the traditions as established by the Beatles et al, and able to wield a wicked hook at the drop of a hat while singing in an uncommonly rich tenor. He initially pinged the national radar in '88 after signing to Columbia Records, which released his album Sunny Nights, and he went on to collaborate with everyone from XTC and Sass Jordan to Kyle Vincent and the eels' E. Meanwhile, operating under the solo and band name of P. Hux, over the years he's also delivered a brace of records enthusiastically embraced by the power pop community - among them, Deluxe, Purgatory Falls and, most recently, Kiss The Monster. Now, with Tracks & Treasures Volume 1, Huxley does a little bit of vault-clearing and, per the odds ‘n' sods imperative as laid down all those years ago by Pete Townshend and The Who, he unearths some genuinely dusky gems that should have been included on his albums all along.

Among the highlights: "The Air Gets Colder," powered by a rich violin melody courtesy ELO's Mik Kaminski and boasting an infectious vocal tagline; acoustic number "Mercy," a devastating portrait of loss and loneliness; "Drag You Down," chilling in its detailed depiction of a betrayal, yet so luminous - it's Abbey Road-worthy - that it draws the listener decisively into its warm cocoon of melody; and "She Must Be From Heaven," a gorgeous slice of Big Star/Todd Rundgren pop co-written by the Go-Go's Gina Schock, who also drums on the track. Sound quality varies somewhat over the course of the 11-song disc, which is typical of such archival endeavors. The crunching garage-rock vibe of "Things Could Be Worse," for example, contrasts considerably with the full-blown, lush production of "Kifissia Girls"; and a cover of Badfinger's "Perfection" (originally on 1996 tribute album Come and Get It) falls squarely in between those two sonic extremes.

None of that's a drawback, however. In fact the final cut, a hidden track at the end, is an early, lo-fi version of "The Air Gets Colder" as twangingly charming as it comes. Knowing that it was originally cut by Huxley in the mid ‘70s (when he was going by the name Rick Miller) and his Chapel Hill band the Blazers just makes it all the cooler for anyone who's followed his career to date. Here's to several more decades, sir.

FRED MILLS / Blurt Online Review              

HIGHLIGHTS: "She Must Be From Heaven," "Mercy," "Drag You Down"

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