16 Horsepower CD review [Jetset]

Music Reviews
16 Horsepower CD review [Jetset]
Jul 8, 2003, 15:15


Having the fortune of seeing Sixteen Horsepower in its infancy in Denver, CO—as well as growing up seeing 16HP leader David Eugene Edwards' previous bands Bloodflower and Denver Gentlemen—I distinctly recall the trio's unprecedented magical power at the time of the early demo tracks collected on this disc. The early shows were certainly fueled by more tent-revival passion than the group's more refined later performances, and the inchoate versions of songs from the band's two A&M albums contained herein demonstrate Sixteen Horsepower's forceful vision. Hearing the six studio recordings and six live songs of the band's first demo tape presented here with six tracks (6-6-6, eh?) from another studio session is a mixed bag of emotions. I adored and memorized all these early recordings on Sixteen Horsepower's first demo tape. Some songs that were later slowed down sound in their earlier incarnations evermore eerie like Robert Johnson recordings. Some songs were much more actualized in the studio. Clearly, Edwards gained a stronger expressiveness to his vocals over time, which seems lacking herein, but the songs are powerful nonetheless. Having heard these tracks first on a demo tape and early single, they definitely fill in the roadmap to the refined sound of the group's final “official” recordings. However, for the uninitiated, I'd have to recommend Sackcloth and Ashes and Low Estate for each album's more completely realized version of these songs. Those who know Sixteen Horsepower well will find different versions of familiar songs with keener ears, but the performances (aside from the superior rendition of “American Wheeze” opening this disc) herein are much better realized on the official album releases. Olden is perhaps a contract-fulfilling release, as well as an attempt to keep songs available that are likely now out-of-print, but for anyone whose interest is piqued, snatch up whatever remains of the band's major label catalog used or new. Then, if more edification is needed, check out this disc to fill in the gaps. [Jetset]

-P. Nongrata

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