The Kaviar Sessions

KAVIAR: The Kaviar Sessions (KMG)"He was, without a doubt, one of the most talented and accomplished musicians of his generation. I know. I witnessed his magic."-- Kaviar bassist, Paul Ill, speaking of Kevin Gilbert

So, you think you know Kevin Gilbert's music, eh? You know all about Toy Matinee, Thud, and his masterpiece, The Shaming of the True. Yes, it's true; Kevin could be a bit on the cynical side. But what you may not know about is the side of Gilbert that would produce The Kaviar Sessions. Bootlegs of this material have been circulating since shortly after his untimely passing in 1996, but now after numerous delays, you can pick up an 'estate-approved' copy of your very own. The Shaming of the True hinted at the direction (or one of the directions) that Gilbert was going, but Kaviar was the extreme.

One of the first things you'll notice about this CD, if you've heard any of the bootleg copies, is the increased bass response. Timid woofers beware--if you turn this up too loud, there's a good possibility that you'll be replacing your speakers soon. It's not that the music was recorded poorly (just the opposite, the sound quality is excellent), but there's a lot of bass.

The first track, "Death Orgy 9000" pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the CD. The song (and the rest of the CD, for that matter) is a veritable goldmine of dark and humorous quotes for Gilbert fans. "Picnic" features a killer bass line, but it's the handclaps that really make the song. Like the previous song, Kevin's vocals are heavily processed. It's hard to tell it's him singing until the middle of the song.

KAVIAR: The Kaviar Sessions (KMG)"Pretty" is the only song from the disc that was ever performed during Gilbert's live shows. The 'estate approved' version features a slightly different mix than the bootlegs. Kevin's lyrical wit is in full force on "Indian Burn." There's a horn section on the song, and D'Virgilio's percussion work on the track is outstanding. "Making Kristy Cry" makes excellent use of strings. The song slowly builds into an intense cacophony on the chorus, only to be offset by the children's choir.

One of the many things Gilbert had going for his was uncanny sense of timing. "Kristy" is a good example, but "Broken" is even better. The way he worked around the phone message in the song (which can also be heard in The Rubinoos' track, "Gone to Seed") is simply amazing. "Single" features another awesome bass line, and probably the coolest groove on the CD. Kevin's sense of humor is back in plain view on the track as well. The big difference between this version and the bootlegs is that now the 'evil vocals' are clear. You can clearly understand everything that's being said in the background.

Gilbert had been favorably compared to Todd Rundgren, and all it takes is one listen to "The Sultan of Brunai" to understand why. The song would've easily been right at home on one of Rundgren's mid-80s albums. Rounding out the CD is a cover of Iggy Pop's "Fall in Love With Me." Kevin does a great Iggy imitation on the song (picture Iggy singing in his low vocal range & you'll get the idea).

What you won't know by looking at the track list is that there's a hidden bonus track on the CD--an alternate version of "Single." This track is one of the prime reasons why there's a parental warning sticker on the shrinkwrap. As a bonus to the first 2000 people who purchase The Kaviar Sessions, the disc comes with a special lenticular cover.

My only complaint with the CD is that they didn't include any of the other alternate material. There are bootlegs available with alternate versions of "Death Orgy 9000," "Picnic," and "Indian Burn." Maybe that's why the CD isn't called The Complete Kaviar Sessions. Regardless, the disc shows a side of Gilbert that most people probably haven't heard, and from start to finish, is one of the most exciting CDs released so far this year.

Editor's Note: This disc is not appropriate for children. Some adults may even find it offensive.

© 2002 Steve Marshall
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