Chris Cacavas

Six String Soapbox

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Given that Chris Cacavas had just released three exuberant albums and was touring with a hard-rocking band, this downbeat, low-fidelity release was something of a surprise for his fans. Six String Soapbox is odd in other ways, too. There are three solo studio cuts -- the first, second, and last on the album -- and five live cuts recorded at the famous I-Beam in San Francisco. Odd as it may seem, the decisions behind this release are sound. The studio items are quiet, confessional pieces that wouldn't have worked well with Junkyard Love bashing away behind them. "There Is Midgets" is easily the best, a wistful paean to Howe Gelb of Giant Sand that has a wonderfully odd chorus: "If you see him/Tell him I said this/There is midgets/There is giants/And then there's you." The other two studio cuts have just one voice and a piano, sounding as close to early Tom Waits as the sweet-voiced Cacavas ever got. Though the first two live pieces are solo, the remaining three feature a great acoustic band who Cacavas unfortunately never recorded with again. The alternate versions of material from Cacavas' albums get an entirely different setting from a band with entirely different dynamics than the originals. Jimmy Sweetwater's splendid blues harmonica work steals the show on the instrumental portions, but everybody sounds great. Six String Soapbox was originally released in an edition of just 1,000 copies and is hard to find, but it's worth looking for.

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