Silver Palace, Sea Note Presents Mr. Jews 7”, 2005

silver palace frontA mildly comic, novel, promotional record, this seven incher features Rian Murphy of Drag City Records “interviewing” David Berman on one side and Will Oldham on the other about a rumoured collaboration that fans have been asking for. I know nothing of the background to this rumour, so here’s my imagined version: there is/was a real rumour, and Rian Murphy, inundated with requests for information about the collaboration, decided to take the piss by making this record, whereby the answers given by David Berman and Will Oldham to Murphy’s questions, mostly nonsensical, are snippets of songs from their back catalogues as the Silver Jews, Palace and Will Oldham. It’s mildly amusing for a couple of spins before Murphy’s nerd-voice, reminiscent of say Weird Al, or Dr. Demento, starts to grate. The questions are pushed out always in the same insistent comedy tone.

silver palace labelDavid Berman, Tell His Side Of The Story… I’ve heard a few Silver Jews songs over the years, but never owned a Silver Jews record, so I’m surprised that I recognised some of the songs here. The running joke throughout this track is that Murphy uses a snippet from the song “Horseleg Swastikas” that begins “I’m drunk,” to have Berman ‘respond’ to several of his statements: “I hope we’re not interrupting anything,” (I’m drunk), “You’re quite an unpleasant person,” (I’m drunk) and “What’s wrong?” (I’m drunk). “Oh right,” responds Murphy at the end. The gist of this piece (and also for the B-side) is Murphy wanting to know whether the “elusive Silver Palace” record will ever happen, and why won’t Berman get together with Will Oldham to finish the album? Best/worst joke might be, “What’s stopping you dropping in on [Will Oldham]?” with Berman replying, “always smelled like piss,” the words coming from Silver Jews song, “Ballad of Reverend War Character.” If Murphy had used a more sincere, quieter, dramatic voice instead of ‘comedy’, this could have been a whole lot funnier. Still, it’s a clever wee device and nicely constructed. One final quotation: Murphy: “You could record down at [Will’s] place,” to which Berman sing-replies, “You know Louisville is death,” (taken from “Tennessee.”)

silver palace labelWill Oldham, Speaks His Peace… opens with interviewer Rian Murphy: “Drag City continues the search for the Silver Palace record. We’re here at the last known address of Will Oldham. Hello, Will?” After some confusion about whether he’s talking about Jews in general, or the Silver Jews, Bonnie “Prince” Billy replies via his song “Just To See My Holly Home” (Ease Down The Road)to the question, “What about Berman?” with the line, “Stinks something awful.” In regard to the unfinished Silver Palace record, “Why haven’t you finished it yet?” Will sing-replies, “We are two kids, we’ve acted foolishly,” a quote taken from “Give Me Children” off the Arise, Therefore album. And so it goes. Several of the questions are the same as on side one—questions about when the recording will take place (“When I’m high and square” courtesy of “I Send My Love To You” from Days In The Wake), and “We think you’re scared to meet with Berman,” (“I never said I was afraid” courtesy of “Another Day Full Of Dread” from I See A Darkness), and “We’re prepared to offer you a million dollars,” (“I can do without it,” courtesy of “O Let It Be” from Joya). A few other comical answers to silly questions, and this record’s off the turntable never to be played again.

silver palace backFollow up comments: I don’t have anything to add. If anyone reading this knows anything about the backstory to this record – whether it was conceived as a piss-take of fans or just a lame joke, lemme know in the comments. About all it’s good for is to get a friend over & play spot-the-song. See who can name the song and album first. Use it in a pub quiz. Turn it into a frisbee.

About Alan Bumstead Vinyl Reviews

Alan Bumstead is a music fanatic who humbly adds confusion to the world with a string of album reviews written during real-time-listening in a stream-of-consciousness style, then edited for spelling, punctuation, flow and grammar. Apart from an additional introductory paragraph, the writing is improvised in time with the music. There is no re-writing. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In his book Moving To Higher Ground Wynton Marsalis says, "Because jazz musicians improvise under the pressure of time, what's inside comes out pure. It's like being pressed to answer a question before you have a chance to get your lie straight. The first thought is usually the truth." I like to think that's what Alan Bumstead's all about.
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