Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Politician's Progress

Barry Soniat came to public attention as a perpetual third party candidate, one whose populist rantings and proposed radical reforms were frequently discredited by the media but who, in spite of it all was beloved by an adoring fan base. Running a inevitably distant fifth place ever November, even coming in behind the Communist party's candidate for the highest office in the land, Soniat nevertheless, year in and year out collected the necessary signatures to place him on the ballot in every state in the land. Among a large slice of the electorate he was considered a bit of a bore and a consumate perennial loser, each time running a highly tasteful, but thoroughly bland campaign.

That was, of course, until after conceding in what he informed the press would be his last Presidential contest, he then decided to record an album of alternative rock standards. The first rule to be considered when recording an album of covers is: is this necessary? In the hands of a person with some degree of talent, yes. Soniat's quavery baritone is suspect enough, but the session musicians backing him play sloppily, both poorly rehearsed and not at all in synch with each other. Part of the reason why many have been hesitant to cover the alternative rock breakthroughs of the early 90's is that the personality and craft of each band in the era is so uniquely distinct and difficult to emulate competently. Slaughtering sacred cows by the bushel, Soniat manages to mangle every single song he records, turning him from a political curiosity in the media to the punchline of a huge joke. In ten years, the album he recorded might be a cult sensation, specifically due to how awful it is, but for the time being, he's an tremendously easy target of scorn and ridicule.

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