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STLBlues correspondent Jim V.Songs of Jeff Alexander - School for Fools
Cousin Moe Music. Inc. 2002

Larry Thurston - lead vocals; Levon Helm - drums; Tom Maloney - rhythmn guitar; Rich McDonough - lead guitar; Gus Thornton - bass.

The celebration of the songs of Jeff Alexander on the CD "School for Fools," is as autobiographical as they come. At the urging of Larry Thurston, the concept of this album came together aided by the talents of many local St. Louis blues musicians. Where most of the regular players are listed above other talents sitting in on this endeavor include Keith Doder on harp, Andrew Falco on rhythm guitar, Jimmy Eppard on slide guitar. Johnnie Johnson puts up some sweet keys on a two tracks. Sweet back up vocals are provided by La-Rita Gaskins and Eugenia "Pepper" Swensen. The combination of the voices and the instrumentation provide a smooth path down what seems to be the rocky road of Jeff Alexander's existence.

Larry Thurston lives the words of Jeff's songs. Being close friends, Larry is able to put into vocals the pain of Jeff Alexander's soul. I'm sure they're very good friends! Levon Helm, most noted as the drummer for "The Band," and playing a Pentecostal preacher in a Steven Segal movie. He provides the steady beat, that along with Gus Thornton on bass, fills out the lower end for everybody else to get real creative.

Some of the stuff I liked:

Starting off with "Broken Heart and It Broke" you hear how one man's life has gone so bad that all of the good that he struggled to gain has turned against him. His woman, his furniture, his best friend, and his secret stash of money - all gone. This is his broken heart and it broke!

"You Know Who You Are"
talks about parasites and cannibals along with lazy people sucking your blood dry. This man has been wronged.

"Lost Dog Blues"
talks about all of us. Playing that pinball of quests that keep us going from one blues bar to the next. Sometimes we don't know why but we still go.

"School of Fools" tells us all that we've arrived. What we have it isn't right, but we go to school. We can find out through the eradication of ignorance we find out how much we've been missing by the lack of money, or at least, that's what someone is willing to tell us. Just when things were goin' good, we pick up on

"My Woman Left Me."
This is where you come to the realization that you're no longer willing to pay for pain and end it before the attorneys do.

"Blues for Brooklyn"
laments the problem when yuppies moved downtown. Displacement by economic progress is never fun. Well, enough of this fun; let's head to the graveyard.

"Grave diggin' Man"
talks about a man so deep in a hole that it's a grave and everything is fallen in and he can't climb out!

Given the chance to see this group of musicians live for even some of this music we can all feel a little bit of Jeff Alexander. Me? I'd buy it! A great CD covering one man's view of life in urban cities.

Just my view from the Left Coast,

Music reviews by Jim V.                        Our west coast Blues connection!
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