The Insect Trust

Hoboken Saturday Night

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How could a combo named the Insect Trust be anything other than eclectic? Hoboken Saturday Night (1970) was the second of two platters from an interesting aggregate whose core consisted of multi-instrumentalists Luke Faust (harmonica, banjo, electric piano, fiddle), Trevor Koehler (baritone sax, soprano sax, piccolo, sewer drum, flute), Robert Palmer (alto sax, clarinet, recorder) [note: Palmer should not be confused with the British vocalist; however, this is the music journalist], Nancy Jeffries (vocals), and Bill Barth (lead guitar, steel guitar). The rhythm section was fleshed out by a sizable and equally diverse coterie of session musicians such as jazz legend Elvin Jones (drums), Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums), Charles "Buddy" Nealy (drums), Donald MacDonald (drums), William Folwell (bass, trumpet), Bob Bushnell (bass), Ralph Casale (rhythm guitar), and Hugh McCracken (rhythm guitar). Collectively, they touched upon facets of the singer/songwriter, psychedelic, and folk-rock subgenres, while somehow eluding them all. The opening short and slightly demented "Be a Hobo" is a precursor to the non-traditional nature of the proceedings. Although undoubtedly a tongue-in-cheek nod to the local New Jersey social scene via the band's hazy perspective, "Hoboken Saturday Night" is a straight-ahead rocker that sums up the carefree funky mood in the line "We might as well get down as long as we're down here." The rural vibe of "Ragtime Millionaire" recalls Jefferson Airplane's "The Farm," with Jeffries' personable vocals undeniably reminiscent of Grace Slick. Koehler's "Somedays" provides a frenetic and pulsating disparity with a raw sound and horn arrangement that comes off like a cross between early Captain Beefheart, Love, and the Tijuana Brass. Trippier is the lengthy noir waltz "Our Sister the Sun," highlighted by Jeffries' ethereal voice, creating a vaporous blend with Palmer's airy woodwind. Another side of the Insect Trust surfaces on the closer, "Ducks," as the upbeat R&B groover could easily be mistaken for a long lost Bar-Kays cut. After several decades in eminent demand among enthusiasts, Hoboken Saturday Night was reissued on CD in 2004 by Collectors' Choice Music. The reissue features an informative liner essay by Robert Christgau.

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