Kenn Kweder

Kwederology, Vol. 1

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On January 29, 2002, Kenn Kweder turned 50, and it was around that time that the Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter looked back on his long career with two anthologies: Kwederology, Vol. 1 and Kwederology, Vol. 2. A two-CD set that spans 1975-2002, Kwederology, Vol. 1 isn't really a best-of because it doesn't stick to Kweder's most essential work. Many of the tracks are excellent, but the collection also contains some less-than-essential rarities that are provided for hardcore fans (including previously unreleased live performances and a few excerpts from interviews). So if you're hoping for a collection of "Introductory Kenn Kweder 101," volume one isn't that collection. But those who are interested in hearing most than just the basics will find this double CD to be a highly rewarding -- and totally unpredictable -- retrospective. Kweder was never a one-dimensional, formulaic type of artist; over the years, he has been everything from an introspective, wistful folk-rocker to a punky, in-your-face new wave rocker; like David Bowie, Miles Davis, and Prince, Kweder isn't someone who can be pigeonholed. His true fans (most of them in and around Philly) not only accept his diversity -- they cherish it, and they will appreciate the fact that volume one contains everything from Bob Dylan-influenced folk-rock ("Apology," "Freedom From Sense," "Remember Me") to gutsy-yet-melodic rockers such as "Man on the Moon" and "What Am I Talking About." Kweder gets into country-rock on 1999's "Places," while "Patti Smith" is a goofy live rarity from 1975 that epitomizes the raw aggression of early punk. "Patti Smith" is hardly essential, but it's a fun bit of self-indulgence that collectors should find amusing. Again, Kwederology, Vol. 1 isn't for casual listeners, but it's a double CD that collectors and hardcore fans will love to get their hands on.