Alan Reade – 4 Seasons in a Day

Alan Reade
4 Seasons in a Day

It seems ol’ Alan Reade, acclaimed poet, playwright, and performance artist, has done made himself a ceedee, entitled 4 Seasons in a Day. If this disc is any indication of what his other media projects are like, then becoming an acclaimed poet, playwright, and performance artist must not be too difficult. Imagine if King Missile were stripped of their humor and the musical ability of Dave Rick and Chris Xefos, leaving only John S. Hall’s periodic pretension and self-indulgence. Now amp up that pretension and self-indulgence by a good 73 percent or so, add some lame computer-generated music, and go hog-wild with the faux-artsy affectations, and you’ve got yourself Alan Reade’s 4 Seasons in a Day. This is one fantastically bad record, friends.

Apparently Reade is primarily a spoken-word poet and performance artist, whose one-man plays and recitations such as “Bear a Go Go!” and “Touched by a Monster” have helped forge a reputation among the nation’s non-traditional art cognoscenti. He could very well be extraordinarily talented at other artforms, but these songs truly are mighty hard to take. The following spoken intro precedes the second track, “Crock Pot”: “There was a baby in the sun this morn, trying to kiss my skin / inflection in the wind today, it mocks the mood I’m in / a corner of this carted clothes (?), sallow-faced and sick / watch their souls in ash camp fire, roasting on a stick.” I haven’t heard ruminations of such wit and depth since I last hung out with my old high school idiot stoner pals seven-odd years ago. In meter, melody, and non-artistic incoherence it strongly resembles that Butthole Surfers song “Pepper” that came out back, oh, seven-odd years ago. And the unseemliness of the lyrics is compounded by Reade’s delivery; it seems like he tries to remain deadpan while reciting things matter-of-factly, but you can just slightly hear in Reade’s voice that he’s a bit too impressed by his own assumed cleverness. This arrogance is incredibly off-putting and damns this project as thoroughly as any other of Reade’s annoying and embarrassing traits.

Performance art and spoken-word poetry are inherently flawed endeavors. The best spoken-word poets (indeed, the only bearable spoken-word poets) are generally the most humorous ones, and their routines tend to run fairly close to another accursed “artform” – stand-up comedy. But even the most talented and entertaining of these folks seem to be incapable of making good records; look at Beau Sia, whose performances and written works are excellent, but whose records are lackluster affairs. King Missile succeeded due to John S. Hall’s Steven Wright-esque sense of humor and the quality rock music scrounged up by the journeymen Rick and Xefos. Saul Williams’ Amethyst Rockstar album didn’t treat the music as an afterthought and provided interesting backdrops for Williams’ words. Every other musical record made by a spoken-word poet has failed completely, however, including Alan Reade’s 4 Seasons in a Day. Stuff like this belongs in the Nuyorican, and not on anybody’s stereo.