Our favorite Mad Telecaster SuperGenius, Jim Campilongo, has a brand new album called “Orange” that will be released on February 16, 2010 — and, due to the magic of the internets, you can buy it right now via iTunes — that sets a broad, new, standard for experimentation in melody and intention.
What we love about Jim’s Telecaster mastery is the way he takes center stage and makes that guitar howl and twank unlike anything we’ve ever heard before.
We are delighted by the opening cut of Orange — “Backburner” — because it is classic Campilongo where you can never anticipate where the melody will take you.
Jim also provides some classic Chet Atkins style picking on “Awful Pretty, Pretty Awful (Solo Guitar — Chet Atkins Style).”
We were disappointed with the vocal tracks. Why, Jim, WHY?
When the singer sings, our favorite Jim takes a backseat to a creepy, sleepy, stereotypical “I’m Too Cool for the Room” female jazz singer who bleeds any sense of fun or anticipation from Campilongo’s playing.
We actually yelled, “Wake Up!” at her this morning in a febrile attempt to move her from the boring and into the craziness of the Campilongo camp. More “I’ve Got Blisters On My Fingers,” please, and none of “No Fun.”
Another disappointment was the track — “I’m Helen Keller and You’re a Waffle Iron” — we expect less cruelty from Jim and more irreverent genius that doesn’t tease the disabled.
Can we all agree that using Helen Keller as a musical crutch is played out and over? Let’s move on and pick on some other dead and disabled person for awhile. I nominate double-amputee and Academy Award winner Harold Russell as Helen’s replacement. I’m sure some young musician can’t wait to write a song about holding Harold Russell’s missing hands.
In the final analysis of Jim Campilongo’s “Orange” — we enjoy him most when he challenges us with eerie melodies — and we are disappointed in his curiously feeble attempt to expand his taste away from what he knows best: Making the Telecaster twang the center of our melodic lives.
We can’t wait to try to get our poor, sweaty, hands on Jim Campilongo’s signature Fender Telecaster due in early 2010. Until then… Orange will just have to assuage us.