Listen Up: Wednesday, August 15, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Wayne Kramer

Adult World (MuscleTone Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

In a just world, there’d be a mass-ass audience for an artist like Wayne Kramer. As is, the guitarist/singer/songwriter/producer remains a minority taste (a recent Dallas show drew fewer than 40 people to a room that’ll hold 400), but that’s no reflection on the quality of his music. He’d be well-fixed, indeed, if he had a buck for every band over the last 30 years that’s namechecked his old crew, Detroit proto-punkers and revolutionary rabble-rousers, the MC5. Even if you don’t know his work, you know the style his work spawned, which is currently and forcefully back in vogue — high-energy, guitar-driven rock of a semi-religious fervor.

Part of his problem is that he hasn’t seen fit to rest on his laurels and continue making the kind of music he made with the Five and on The Hard Stuff, the 1995 album that marked his resurgence (following late-1970s imprisonment on drug charges and a subsequent period of obscurity). Instead, with 1997’s Citizen Wayne, he alienated much of his post-punk audience with modern production touches that showed an awareness of (gasp!) hip-hop.

These days, Brother Wayne purveys a literate style of boho-rock that owes as much to Tom Waits and barfly poet Charles Bukowski as it does to his own history. Rock anthems like “Brought A Knife to the Gunfight” and “Great Big Amp” are mixed with the vocals right up front, so you can’t miss the lyrics. He’s joined by those trendy Swedes, the Hellacopters, on “Talkin’ Outta School,” Chicago free-jazzers X-Mars-X on “Nelson Algren Stopped By” (a tribute to the author of The Man With the Golden Arm), and alt-folkie singer Syd Straw on “What About Laura?,” but almost all the other sounds (except drums) are his. “New music for grown-ups,” he calls it. I say check it out, kid.


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