Medium Cool / Twin\Tone Records, 1994
REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/02/1997
A 2-CD record is a pretty hard sell right now. This summer for rap fans, it was horrible. The Notorious B.I.G.? Wu-Tang Clan? Bone Thugs N' Harmony? Knowing that a double album will set you back at least $20, you're going to be pretty selective about what album deserves the bucks. But at least with artists such as 2Pac and The Smashing Pumpkins, you knew their sound before buying their double albums.
That all said, what is the motivation behind shelling out for a double album from an artist whom you never heard before? That's the case with Jack Logan's dense, wonderful 1994 album, Bulk. The CD is specially priced so it's not as expensive as other double albums. Also, artists such as Peter Buck of R.E.M. have praised Logan's work. Still, it's one of those "leap of faith" moments. You believe the hype and go down and shell out $14 for an artist you've never heard a single note from. And as for me, it was a rewarding risk.
Bulk took nearly 15 years to make. Recorded at various houses and studios, it traces the career of an artist truely in love with creating music. During the day Jack Logan would have a full time job, the latest job includes repairing swimming pool motors. At night, Logan and his buddies would go down to one of their houses and fuck around with some songs. Sometimes they would get studio time and record there.
A little toying with the instruments swelled to a whopping 600 recordings Logan submitted. With that many recordings, the mere 42 songs on Bulk are but a brief synopsis of Logan's work. "Fuck Everything" opens up Bulk perfectly. Jack Logan's limited, but weary voice haunts through some of the studio fuzz.
Small town life gets fleshed out in three dimensional detail in Bulk. Monotony suffocates the figures in "Vegetable Belt", "15 Years In Indiana" and "Shrunken Head". Simple such as watching cartoons ("Cartoons") and minimal needs ("New Used Car And A Plate Of Bar-B-Que" and "Would I Be Happy Then?") are covered with vivid detail by Logan.
Don't assume that Logan is your typical small town simpleton though. "Underneath Your Bed" and "Chloroform" are wicked, detailed accounts of lust turned to violence in serial killer like delivery.
While low-fi seems to be the choice of hipper than thou alternative indies, Bulk had no choice in the matter. The rather pure, unrehearsed feel of Bulk makes it sort of a character study of an artist. Logan even has a duet with Vic Chestnutt (the artist that Sweet Relief 2 honored) with "The Parishioners".
For an artist so undeniably hip, any fame that Logan receives will be a mixed blessing of sorts. Logan and his band, Liquor Cabinet, went into a studio to make Mood Elevator after Bulk bailed over critics in 1994. Though it was good to hear Logan with some better sound equipment, you had the feeling like something was robbed. Take those charming guys who recorded with each other after work to "blow off steam" and put them in a tight studio with microphones pointing at them and have a demanding producer determined to catapult Logan into the same field as the Wallflowers are now and it makes you wonder how Logan would react to such a situation.
Then, on the other hand, Logan doesn't have to really do anything. 42 songs out of 600 recording means that there's still a lot of stuff we haven't heard from the guy. And with 15 years of music that was fairly untouched by music labels, Logan might be just the corrupt-free guy to make the labels listen for the local sounds.