Profiles In Clownhenge

Buddy Judge

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Profiles In Clownhenge Review

by Jason Damas

Possibly one of the strangest -- and most interesting -- guitar pop albums of the late 1990s, Buddy Judge's first solo project (titled, in full Mister Spalding's Orchestral Devices Proudly Perform Buddy Judge's Full-Length Musical Compendium "Profiles in Clownhenge") sounds almost nothing like his previous work with the Grays. As one of the three frontmen in that project, Judge's songs blended seamlessly with those of Jason Falkner and Jon Brion, and despite some adventurous flourishes, the song writing on that album was fairly conventional guitar pop fare. On this album, however, Judge gets pretty weird: the concept is that the music is inspired by a late 19th century Boston bookkeeper named Mr. Spalding, who created an orchestra of mechanical animal musicians run on steam power. Mr. Spalding was a bit of a recluse who died when the orchestral device's main boiler exploded, also destroying all of his devices. This album is recorded in that particular style -- sounding a bit like a circus gone mad -- making it possibly one of the only tuba-based pop records in memory. What's surprising is that even with the inherent weirdness, Profiles in Clownhenge is still basically a pop album, just with tuba taking the prominent role generally taken by a guitar. So that means that songs like the infectious "Everybody Loves Bob" and a very literal cover of "Send in the Clowns" aren't too weird to scare pop fans away, but are plenty different enough to establish this as a truly creatively unmatched project. (There are four bonus tracks tacked on after the main section of the album. Those songs are more traditional guitar-based numbers that won't surprise fans of Judge's other work.)

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