Paul Roland – “Bates Motel” (Sireena Records 2013, SIR 2110)

If you are unfamiliar with the work of British singer, song-writer, musician and author Paul Roland, please do me a favor before proceeding and CLICK HERE to read the review of the 2-CD In Memoriam: 1980-2010 compilation I published last month. It’s got a lot of general info about Paul and what his music is about. Great, thanks…

There’s an interesting backstory to Paul’s latest album, Bates Motel. Paul was a music journalist in the 1980s and in the latter part of the decade interviewed several members of the Velvet Underground for a national English newspaper. At the end of the interviews he asked Nico, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker if they would be interested in recording with him and received a positive response. Paul wrote some songs, sent tapes to them in the U.S., had technical problems with the tapes, time went by, Morrison and Nico passed away, and the project sat until recently when Paul decided to do something with the songs. However, other than his having written the songs with The Velvet Underground in mind and feeling that, “it is the album that I would have made with Mo, Sterling and Nico had I been a bit more aggressively ambitious and made sure the opportunity wasn’t lost”, this is not an attempt to sound like the Velvet Underground.

Several of the dozen songs on Bates Motel consist of stripped to the core rock ‘n roll. I Was A Teenage Zombie and How I Escaped From Devil’s Island are high energy garage rockers with a dash of rockabilly swing. Tortured By The Daughter Of Fu Manchu is a good fun garage-psych rocker with a 60s edge. The subject sings of what you think is his predicament of being trapped in Su Long Ming’s torture chamber, until the very last line when he says, “Bring it on, sugar, let’s do it again.” The kick-ass dirty rocking Crazy includes a cool organ solo injecting a 60s feel. And I’m In Love With Myself sounds like Paul singing with The Pretenders.

There’s lots of variety here. I love the electric/acoustic guitar, organ and percussion combination on the darkly melodic title track, with its lyrics describing an encounter with Norman Bates, a bad vibe, and a decision to bail out quick. Kali features a combination of hypnotic Eastern flavored psychedelia and a steady rocking groove. The Light Of Life Drains Out Of Me is a solid melodic acoustic driven rocker with a raw psychy electric guitar solo. The Wailing Well, Katmandu, and Cain all have a similar Country-like feel from the acoustic guitars. I especially liked The Wailing Well with its addition of prog-psych organ and atmospheric electric guitar.

Having heard the 30 year In Memoriam compilation and now this new album I’m figuring out that Paul Roland is a multi-faceted artist who can offer something new and different with each album, and for as long as he’s been around that’s a good thing. The Bates Motel CD comes with a nice booklet which includes all the lyrics and they’re in a font and size that these aging eyes can comfortably read. And based on some of the song titles it was no surprise and quite a pleasure to see the old horror movie posters scattered throughout. Seasoned Roland fans will dig this. The uninitiated are encouraged to check him out.

Bates Motel and other Paul Roland albums are available at Amazon and, with CDbaby being a good source for digital downloads.
Lots of information about Paul Roland and his music can be found at:
Information about Paul Roland the author can be found at:
Paul’s back catalog has been reissued by the German label Syborg Music:
CLICK HERE to read a review that another Aural Innovations writer posted to Amazon

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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