First, here's the bad news: The Cigar Chronicles is the last all-star line up album from Justin Murr's Liberty N Justice project. Now, here's the good news: Liberty N Justice will return to being a regular band and record a new album next year. I suspect they'll still have some guest contributions.
With this said, Murr and the LnJ project are going out big, and with more than a few tricks up his sleeve. Not the least is his tongue-in-cheek sense of humor as he offers a little musical parody on the The Cigar Chronicles. Vol. 1 of the this two CD set is composed of 13 cover songs, and the selections may catch you more than a little off guard, and make you wonder if Murr is pulling your leg.
Well, he is. Murr and friends give a melodic rock interpretation of some interesting song selections: "Ice Ice Baby" (Vanilla Ice), "Stayin' Alive" (The Bee Gees), "YMCA" (The Village People), "You're So Vain" (Carly Simon), "Blame It On The Rain" (Milli Vanilli), "Bye Bye Bye" (N'Sync), and "Mmmbop" (Hanson), to name the grossly odd ones.
I nearly busted a gut listening to Kip Winger doing Stayin Alive, Kelly Keeling singing Y ... M ... C ... A, the gay anthem, and Seann Nicols (Adler's Appetite) doing Ice Ice Baby. More serious covers, so to speak, could include "Pride" (U2) or "Iris" (The Goo Goo Dolls) with Tony Harnell doing the vocals. But even these are suspect. Yet, while the musicianship is very good and arrangements are interesting, there's something acutely "cheesy" about these songs. There's something that basically says, don't take them too seriously. But they're still a heck of a lot of fun to listen to.
More fitting of a Liberty N Justice album are the songs on Vol. 2. Here are 13 original songs in the Eighties melodic hard rock tradition (with Murr's nuanced inclusion of Christian faith in some of them). Again, the songs are populated and performed by huge all-star cast of singers and musicians. (You can read the complete list in this text document.)
Many of these are straight up rockers like Devil His Dues, Been There Done That, The Greatest, or Daddy Long Legs, by example. You have an anthem or two in Sin and Tomorrow, and a nice ballad with Under Construction. Songwriting, arrangements, and musicianship are at a serious premium across the board. However, the best listening my come in catching the nuanced humor in some songs, like Cupids Gonna Bleed, Sucker Punched, Give Em' A Light, or Daddy Long Legs. It's all very nice stuff.
The novelty and humor of the cover songs combined with the superb originals make The Cigar Chronicles another solid and entertaining album from Liberty N Justice. Easily recommended.Tweet
The novelty and humor of the cover songs combined with the superb originals make The Cigar Chronicles another solid and entertaining album from Liberty N Justice. Easily recommended.
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