Jesse Collins – City At Night (Legend Studios)
Jesse Collins had been in and around the California film and music biz virtually from the moment he drew his first breath. His older sister starred alongside Lana Turner and Errol Flynn and she counted a multitude of Hollywood A-listers amongst her friends and colleagues. Collins screen debut came performing opposite Jackie DeShannon in an early Shindig pilot, and clearly it was to be music rather than television that drove his own artistic ambitions.
He fronted a series of groups, including The Last Supper and the experimental World Peace Band, played the Hollywood club circuit, and befriended various Byrds, Buffalo Springfielders and Doors. Unfortunately things didn’t work out with labels, and after a move to London, and lots of new musical adventures, he returned to California and formed The Jesse Collins Band, before returning to UCLA, becoming a certified audio engineer, and starting his own Legend Studios and associated label.
That’s quite a back-story, and ultimately, Collins’ journey has given him complete control over his recording process, together with manufacture and distribution. That freedom is reflected in his latest recordings, the 20-track “City At Night”, which exhibits lots of musical variety, from fuzzbox-propelled garage punk and R&B to jazz, blues, heavy rock, psychedelia and even a little surf-pop. Let’s be frank, with so much going on, it could have been an incohesive mish-mash, but in fact the opposite is true. Collins coalesces the recordings with his distinct songwriting and vision, and the result is a double album, chock full of sharp songs, which you’ll want to play from beginning to end.
Let’s talk about some of the standout tracks. The collection begins with the ‘60s garage stomp of the title track. Lyrically, it’s an all-ages invitation to the “City”, wrapped in retro-pop beats and genuine zeal. “You Hurt Me” would have sounded at home had it been released during the UK’s pre-punk, pub rock phase, and “Trapped” rolls along like an old Canned Heat classic. The fore mentioned surf track is “Rad Rider”, and it’s another keeper, and Collins’ experimental side is represented by the jazz-rock fusion of “Feed”, and the Zappa-esque “Sex Object” – and there’s plenty more. Recommended.