Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Dave Cawley Songbook

I was bored one day, so I decided to anthologize all of the songs my friend Dave Cawley had written and recorded over the years with Berserk and Garage Sale, as well as the unreleased demos he recorded with his ertswhile lyricist chum Tom Davis. The Berserk and Garage Sale tunage speaks for itself and is readily available on the Berserk (Go-Kart, 1994) and Pointless Summer (Beef Platter, 2000) CDs, but there are some real gems on the Davis recordings, which were recorded and engineered by Tom Davis and feature either Dave Cawley's solo songs or tunes for which Davis wrote the words and Dave composed the music, a la Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Music-wise it's all Dave Cawley, with Dave doing all the singing and playing acoustic (sometimes 12-string) guitar. I never realized how good a guitar player Dave was until now, having previously only seen him play bass in Berserk and Garage Sale. (I remember Dave telling me once how a local guitar player saw him playing an acoustic guitar and exclaimed, "Wow, I didn't know you played guitar, too!" to which Dave replied, "Yes, bass players can actually play guitar - maybe crappy guitar, but a guitar's a guitar no matter how many strings!")

The Dave Cawley Songbook: Much Ado About Nothing

I took all of Dave's songs from the Berserk CD - "Giant Robots," "My Love Is So Big," "Pen Pal," "Kamen Rider Love Song," "When I Think," "Depression" - and added two more that were previously only available on compilation CDs, "Ultra 7" - perhaps the best Berserk song ever (it's certainly my fave!) - from 1996's Go-Kart Vs. Corporate Giant (Go-Kart Records) - and "5 Strings" from 1995's Baltimore band collection Walking By a Building (Hat Factory).

Dave's Garage Sale output, from 2000's Pointless Summer CD, is represented here by "Brentless" (a shout-out to former Berserk and Stress Magnets guitarist Brent Malkus), "She Makes Me Hard," "Forgive Me," and the instrumental "Song of Hope," the latter song usually performed live with a mock "Ballroom Blitz" intro. The lone Cawley song missing from the Garage Sale CD is "I Suppose," which turns up in demo form on The Dave Cawley Songbook - Volume 2...

The Dave Cawley Songbook - Volume 2:
The Basement Tapes

Of the 18 originals here, nine are by Dave Cawley and nine are Cawley-Davis collaborations. Berserk fans take note, this is the only recorded version (unless Skizz has a live recording somewhere) of "Kumi Mizuno," Dave's homage to the comely Japanese film star (shown at left) who appeared in a number of Godzilla films (Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla Vs. the Sea Monster), as well as Matago (aka Attack of the Mushroom People), Frankenstein Conquers the World, and International Secret Police: Key of Keys (the spy movie that Woody Allen dubbed, re-edited, and re-released as What's Up, Tiger Lily?).

"She came to us from a world called Planet X/When I see her, you know it makes-a-me want to have sex," Dave sings, obviously wearing his heart on (or hard-on) his sleeve. I can understand his emotions. Kumi Mizuno (real name: Maya Igarashi) was pretty hot as villainess "Miss Namikawa" in that skin-tight space uniform in Monster Zero. No wonder director Ishiro Honda couldn't keep his hands off her (as shown at right). I only wish Dave had continued his Toho film star obsession with some more tunes, like maybe one called "Akiko Wakabayashi" (admittedly a hard name to create rhymes for!) in homage to the fetching star of Dagora - The Space Monster and You Only Live Twice.

Other noteworthy Dave ditties here include his heartfelt lovesong to his favorite long-lost dominant terrestrial vertebrate animals, "The Dinosaurs Are Gone for Good" (best line: "I'd watch them smash and turn our malls to trash"), his bossa nova song "The Girl That Never Cared," the anti-Dave Matthews Band rant "DMB (The Only Thing Missing Is U)," and "Colby," in which Dave references not only TSU (calling Towson U. "Towson State University" really dates you!), but also, in musical style, the Andy Griffith Show's hillbilly band The Darlings. The song's about a college kid and would-be drummer who's a cheesy as his name implies.

And for Garage Sale completists, there's "I Suppose," though Dave regrets that his voice was pretty hoarse the day he recorded this take. It contains one of my favorite Cawley couplets, "And if someone tells you that I'm not a handsome lad/Darling you can tell them that they must be mad!" Oh, and "Hidden Sudden Drop-offs" was another Garage Sale contender that never made the cut.


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