Repackaging material according to various conceptual themes is the raison d'être of Jimmy Carl Black's Inkanish imprint. There could even be a collection in the works of songs he likes to hum while preparing his famous homemade enchilada sauce. Fans of Captain Beefheart material have relished Black's various collections of cover material from that songbook; likewise, the special focus given to Black's original songs about his people, the Native Americans, is both worthwhile and resulting in a truly fine CD. Black has been working on his Native American songbook slowly, something of a shade-tree mechanic whose automobile project putters to life only after several presidential terms have been served. More than several of such low-life palefaces rose to and fell from power in the 35 years that Black has been performing, that statistic based on the 2005 release date of this collection of four extended Black originals. This material is all a variation on the same theme, the betrayal of the American Indian and their resulting struggle for cultural survival. Black takes this mythology and, veteran rocker that he is, rocks out with it. His personification of native mythology has grown in dimension over the years: the final song, "Chief Old Fox," is a masterpiece, Black's totally expressive vocal brilliantly mixed within layers of voices, electric guitars, and drums. Flash back, please, from there to 1971, the date of the opening track entitled "An American National Anthem" and featuring the Geronimo Black band. The anthropology implicit from this beginning also involves the legacy of Black's former non-Indian chief, Frank Zappa. While the package leaves out complete instrumental credits for the different groups involved, Black's collaborators include both actual ex-membership of the Mothers of Invention, such as saxophonist Bunk Gardner, as well as a younger wave of European players strongly influenced by what they would call "Zappa music." His voice quavering like a typical hippie from the '60s in his touching spoken introduction to the Geronimo Black track, Black was definitely a man of his time to whom, thankfully, a good jam is always worth having. Stylistically linking the first three tracks on a level much different than Native American philosophy is the presence of extended, complex song arrangements in several parts, inevitably leading into a loose, intense jam. Rock & roll limber-'em-up rhythms blend with interpretations of Native American syncopation, while the easygoing harmonic structures native to the rock and blues genres are perfect settings to develop long guitar and horn solos. Sections of improvisation are tethered with snappy, rebounding transition themes. This material featuring varied horn sections tends to sound well rehearsed -- in other words, all is as it should be with Uncle Frank watching over. As for Uncle Jimmy, he should hurry up and write a few more songs like these before another 35 years go by.
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AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne
feat: Geronimo Black