Ben's Biz Blog Recommends…
Earlier this month The Baseball Project released its debut album “Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails”, and it is a winner. In case the group name and album title hadn’t made it clear, this is a rock ‘n roll record whose subject matter is 100% related to our National Pastime.
The Baseball Project’s core song writers are Steve Wynn (formerly of the Dream Syndicate) and Scott McCaughey (of the Minus 5 and longtime R.E.M. collaborator). The rhythm section consists of R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on bass and Wynn’s wife Linda Pitmon (Golden Smog) on drums. Clearly, this is a group with some serious rock and roll credibility.
The record’s dozen songs could generally be described as ragged, mid-tempo Americana roots rock. Or something like that. It’s always a dicey proposition to string a bunch of adjectives together in an attempt to categorize a band’s sound, so I won’t attempt to do so any further.
And I’d rather talk about the lyrics, anyway. Wynn and McCaughey are obviously serious fans of the game, and bring a first-person storytelling approach to many of the songs. The subjects include the peripatetic Satchel Paige, overlooked labor hero Curt Flood, tragic slugger “Big Ed” Delahanty, one-time tabloid villain Jack McDowell , and a whole lot more. But my favorite track, hands-down, is “Harvey Haddix”. Not only does the song tell the hard-luck tale of Harvey Haddix’s excruciating perfect game that wasn’t, but it also manages to name-drop every pitcher who has ever thrown a pitcher game in the chorus. It’s a fine piece of storytelling in the American folk tradition, and is available on the band’s MySpace page for all to hear.
And it appears that this album is called Vol. 1 for a reason, as Wynn and McCaughey have indicated in interviews that there’s a lot more where this came from. For future song topics, may I suggest the legendary Bud Fowler? That dude deserves to be honored as the true American hero that he was.
And if the Baseball Project ever tours — and I sincerely hope that they do — then I have a perfect recommendation for who their opening act should be. These guys.