Troy Gregory – Sybil

Some readers may remember Troy Gregory from his short stint in Prong. Yes, he’s THAT Troy Gregory who played bass on Prove You Wrong. He’s also played for Killing Joke, Swans, Wasted Youth, Flotsam and Jetsam, and numerous other artists over the years. I was pretty floored to hear the types of songs he’s come up with for Sybil, because they have very little in common with his past groups. What’s more, Gregory has recorded and collaborated with a different band on each of the 13 songs, including Bantam Rooster, the Sights, Outrageous Cherry, the Come Ons, Larval, and the Slumber Party, among others. The recording was helmed by Jim Diamond, who is pretty much the guru of Detroit’s new sounds these days by most accounts.
As it turns out, Sybil, an infamous tale of schizophrenia, is a fitting name for this album. Other than Gregory’s Elvis Costello- like croon, there are few real similarities in any of these tracks. Having each track played by a different set of musicians only increases the already high diversity of styles contained herein. The opener, “Lice Cots N’ Rabies Shots,” (with Bantam Rooster) is a rockabilly shuffle infused with lo-fi weirdness and spooky production flourishes. This moves right into “Leave the Ghost at Home,” a collaboration with The Sights, which has a garagey-soul feel much like Mooney Suzuki. The next song, “Rat Squad” (with They Come In Threes) is straight-up British pop. The record continues on in this fashion: the listener is never quite sure what’s going to happen next.
With such a wide variety of songs on the record, there are a few collaborations that stand out above the rest. “Regrets…I’ve Had A Few,” with Outrageous Cherry, is one of the winners. The collaboration somehow brings to mind a Bowie-Eno collaboration, mixed with the sort of primitive soul the Motor City is known for. “Other Dimensions Will Reveal Themselves 2 B True 2 U” (with The Alphabet) is the sort of meandering psychedelic gem that may have occurred if Elvis Costello sat in with Spiritualized. And “Dealin’ In Death N’ Stealin’ In the Name of the Lord” (with The Wildbunch, a band that features a member named Rocknroll Indian) brings a modern touch to the Credence sound. In short, there’s lots of good stuff here.
Although this isn’t an essential purchase, this is nonetheless a great look into the future of Detroit music and a superb effort from the obviously talented (and apparently afflicted with A.D.D.) Troy Gregory. I have to admit, I hadn’t spent a lot of time wondering what had happened to him. As it turns out, I should have. I won’t make that mistake again.