CD Review: Alan Grandy “El Grande”

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Music
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ImageCleveland’s own Alan Grandy has spent more than two decades performing his own music on his own or as part of some of the many bands that have made a large impact on the local music scene over the years. Whether part of Terrible Parade, the Jehova Waitresses, or most recently Sputnik, Grandy has had a large part in making the Greater Cleveland music scene what it is today.

To give people a reminder of what Alan Grandy has accomplished over the last quarter century, he has put together a 19-song collection of some of his best material, entitled El Grande. El Grande features music that was selected by fans over the years that truly helped shape the musical legacy of one of Cleveland’s most creative singer-songwriters, Alan Grandy. The collection focuses on the three main time frames in Grandy’s career- the Terrible Parade years, Grandy’s solo material and his most recent work as part of Sputnik.

When someone puts together a collection of an artist’s musical history, they usually work chronilogically, from beginning to most recent. However, El Grande works in the exact opposite way, featuring Grandy’s work with Sputnik first and then going backwards. The listener gets a chance to experience what Grandy sounds like today and then gets to hear where he came from, musically.

Alan Grandy’s most recent work has been as part of the band Sputnik. Sputnik not only features Grandy on guitar and vocals, but Jay Bentoff on bass and vocals, as well as Jeff Harmon on drums. This trio features a light rock style to their music. Sputnik’s music can be found on two releases: 2004’s Underradar and 2003’s I, Cosmonaut. The El Grandy CD gives each release equal time featuring two songs from each release, including the song “Alienne,” a track that made its way onto the DVD release of the short-lived series Wonderfalls.

The middle part of El Grandy features four songs from Alan Grandy’s solo release entitled Acrowno’stars. The four songs featured from that release are rather sparse in their production quality, featuring mainly Grandy and his guitar; although, the songs “Drunk” and “Leslie’s Lonely Day” do feature Grandy’s future Sputnik band mate Jay Bentoff adding either vocals (“Leslie’s Lonely Day”) or e-bow (“Drunk”). In fact, Grandy and Bentoff would later redo  “Leslie’s Lonely Day” with Jeff Harmon  as part of Sputnik on the I, Cosmonaut CD.

One other song from Grandy’s Acrowno’stars, “Disconnected,” comes from his time in the popular Cleveland band the Jehova Waitresses. The version that’s included on both Acrowno’stars and here on El Grande is a solo version with only Grandy and his guitar. While it sounds kind of flat without the rest of that band behind him, the solo version allows Grandy to shine more than he could when the rest of his former band mates filled out the sound on the album version of “Disconnected,” which was included on the Jehova Waitresses album Perfect Impossible.

The largest amount of time is spent on Alan Grandy’s time in the band Terrible Parade. Eleven of the nineteen songs on El Grande are taken from various releases from that group. In fact, the compiled songs from that band feel like a compilation on their own. And with the different members who were part of that band during its history, the eleven songs on El Grande that came from Terrible Parade contain a good amount of variety that help keep this compilation refreshing.

The first three Terrible Parade songs (“Soul Sister,” “Ed McMahon Says,” and “Telephone Man”) have the same feel to them that would later show up in the songs by Sputnik. However, the song “Sometimes I’d Rather Be Alone” is probably the song with the most rock and roll quality to it. And “My Horoscope” has a feel that seperates itself from the rest of the material on the CD by going in a slightly different direction , melodically. The song is very full-bodied, having a lot of layers to the music, making it the song that would probably catch the ear of the listener the most.

El Grande from Alan Grandy is a very strong release shifting directions from song to song and changing feelings in the music from group to group. The collection of songs on the album gives a very good indication of what Grandy has been up to for the last twenty-five years or so. El Grande is the perfect place to begin to start discovering the talent and music of one of Cleveland’s best singer-songwriters. The album is also a good indicator for things to come from this talented musician.

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