Category Archives: Music

Review: Not Changing, by Jim Basnight

In recent years I have tried to focus some of my money spent on music on local artists, or up and coming artists from anywhere. A good example is Pushing Chain, a “folky tonk” duo from Minnesota. As far as local artists in the past number of years I’ve purchased music by Carl Funk, Brad, The Halyards, and Vanilla. I am also looking forward to an upcoming release by Tom Kell, a Puget Sound area guy who has spent the past several decades in Southern California rubbing elbows with the royalty of the “California Sound.” On top of that, I want to write reviews of the music and encourage others to buy it. With streaming becoming ubiquitous these days it’s tough for musicians to make a living unless they are superstars.

But today my topic is Jim Basnight. For about four decades Jim has been a prolific producer of original songs. His band The Moberlys was a popular and influential part of the pre-Grunge Seattle music scene. He has continued to make music both as a solo artist and with bands such as The Rockinghams and a re-formed version of The Moberlys. Along the way, he has spent time living and making music in both New York and L.A. but always returning to his native Puget Sound region.

Recently, Jim released “Not Changing”, a collection of 14 new songs. The album opens with “Code to Live By.” The opening bars remind me a bit of the jazzy opening riffs from “Blue Collar” by BTO so many years ago. I am not the greatest at interpreting lyrics, because I know songwriters have something in mind as they write. It helps if I can have the lyrics in front of me too. But as I listen to this song I get the feeling it’s about a person of privilege who has no moral compass, “Crawling through your life, waiting for a code to live by.” Hopefully, Jim will set me straight if I’m off on this one. But I think it’s a great song.

This release falls into the category of Power Pop. The title track proves it by picking up the tempo and adding a harder edge. It has a short spoken intro before it begins to rock in earnest. The next track, “Big Bang” isn’t about a situation comedy about nerds, but is a hard rocking love song about a “supernova of love.” The song, “Suicide Evening” appears to be about someone contemplating ending their life and features a perfect guitar solo for the mood. It starts beautifully with a sustained note played in unison with Jim’s vocal. Hard to tell where the guitar starts and the vocal ends. On “Kurt Cobain,” it sounds as though Cobain has been resurrected on guitar, and perfectly recreates that Grunge vibe. Recently, Jim wrote that “Never Get Lost” was intended to sound like “Badfinger with Hendrix on guitar.” That helps explain why it may be my favorite track, as I am a huge fan of Badfinger. Other great tracks on this recording include, oh, never mind. They are all great. Buy it here.

The CD is co-produced by longtime local producer Garey Shelton who also plays bass. Drums are by Dave Warburton, who seems to be in pretty high demand right now. On guitar is Bruce Hazen. Steve Aliment does backing vocals. DJ Jay Phillips does a spoken, top-40 radio style intro on “Living the Way I Want.”

Music and Politics

Anyone out there not think Aung San Suu Kyi should have been freed by the repressive government of Myanmar? The current reality does not change the fact that she was a political prisoner. Now, as a leader, she must be held accountable. But not foreseeing her every future move does not make past supporters any less free to speak their minds.

And so it is with U2. Predictably, their Grammy performance brought forth the “shut up and sing” fetishists out of the woodwork, not to mention most of the other very political performances last night. Here’s some news folks: musicians have a right to free speech too. U2 has always been a political group, and I daresay that’s why most of their fans are so devoted. And, although I’m not as familiar with hip hop, I would wager that most artists in that genre have reasons for getting political.

My advice is, if you don’t want to hear political statements you disagree with, don’t watch TV, listen to the radio, or read. Stay home with the shades pulled. Oh, and don’t vote.