John Bartles

Dogtown Rd.: All Dog Song

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John Bartles lives somewhere outside Buffalo, New York, and claims to have put together almost 50 albums between 1985 and 2005. He should not be confused with the singular John Bartle, a Floridian heavy rocker who jammed with guitar super-hero Tommy Bolin. No tangent this, since an appearance by the likes of Bolin, or anybody else playing any instrument whatsoever, in any style, would hardly be surprising on these Bartles burns. A listener whose personal space has been violated, or at least semi-occupied by a selection of this artist's works will have to start somewhere, so why not Dogtown Rd.: All Dog Song, subtitled a "Musical Review." Here we have songs related to the subject of canines selected from the vast Bartles discography, a good way of tasting a selection of his musical dishes if not the key to a library of diverse subject matter. Actually, hats should be tipped -- or rather tails should be wagged -- for the man's sheer ability to not only reference dogs so many times in his recording career, but to seemingly write ditties from their point of view. "I Took a Dump to Show I Love You" is absolutely hilarious, easy to imagine as an entry in a wacky disc jockey's evening of offerings. Bartles growls many of these songs in pretty much the same way, whether he is accompanied by folksy dobro, oompah piano, a straight-sounding Chicago blues combo, or a heavy metal band. He takes a changed, more subdued approach to "Please, Please, Don't Give Me No Fleas," which has a ska or calypso feel. While he is not an amazing vocalist by any means, he seems be able to work well within any and all of these stylistic settings, or at the very worst is tolerable to the band in these situations. On that subject, the Bartles series also seems to be a good place to sample obscure regional players, such as drummer Wild Bill Falkowitz and a bassist identified as John Kennedy Kruschev.

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