Elliott Murphy

Aquashow

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With all the praise accorded every other artist anointed with the "new Dylan" tag, Elliott Murphy burst onto the scene in 1973 wearing the mantle proudly. His debut, Aquashow, came on like the son of Blonde on Blonde, but with the streetwise poetic bent of Lou Reed. And, as is the case with most 24-year-olds armed with pen, paper, guitar, and harmonica, he has plenty to say. There is the tendency to wield a heavy hand when it comes to his takes on love, fame, growing up, and the underbelly of middle-class life, but Murphy, whose insights cut deeper than the majority of writers his age, is successful more often than not. If the irony of "How's the Family" or the overstated "Marilyn Monroe died for our sins" are a bit much, tracks such as "Hangin' Out," "Scrapbook Graveyard," and "Last of the Rock Stars" more than make up for it, painting a vivid picture of disenfranchised youth -- searching yet self-destructive. Still, as good as Murphy can be lyrically, it's the music that first draws you in. From his own electric guitar, and a rhythm section made up of brother Matthew Murphy and Byrd Gene Parsons, to Highway 61 Revisited pianist Frank Owens' organ and piano, Murphy creates some of the most convincing Dylan-esque folk-rock to come along since 1966. In and out of print over the years, Aquashow remains a minor classic, thanks to a keen eye, intelligence, and a sparse, straightforward sound that stays clear of trends.

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