Tongue 'n Groove

CD Cover Robert Priest

Review by Darren Kerr

Spoken word has always been a weird bird for me to watch fly. I've listened to lots of it: Lydia Lunch, Exene Cervenka, John S. Hall, Ann Magnuson, Steven Jesse Bernstein, Eric Bogosian -- the list of great speakers is a very lengthy one. When spoken word is good, it makes ideas into strong visuals. It's all about setting a vibe, good or bad. It gives you a good think, a good laugh or a twinge of outrage, and makes your brain dance to its own intellectual tune But when spoken word is bad, it's like Vogon poetry or a bullshit conversation. You leave with a bad taste in your mouth and your back hurts.

The work of Toronto's Robert Priest fortunately falls into the former category, and here he has created a work of words and funky grooves that is extremely listenable and, in spots, very clever. "Sayings" is a listing of reworked quotations like "Every little ruler wants a 13th inch," "you cannot kiss ass and kick it too" and "stop procrastinating tomorrow." "Vote Shit" elevates excrement above politicians in a way that King Missile's John S. Hall would be proud of. "Ticket to Hell" is great protest-and-bile folk vented in the direction of the tax man.

Both soothing and biting, this is well done.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on March 21, 1998

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