Welcome To The Western Lodge

Masters Of Reality

Spitfire Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The last time I had heard from Britain's Masters Of Reality, the late Ginger Baker was playing drums for the group, and their disc Sunrise On The Sufferbus had been met in my dorm room with a yawn. The disc, featuring group leader Chris Goss, had a few moments of enjoyment on it, but I don't remember being terribly impressed with the offering. Wham - into the depths of the Pierce Memorial Archive it went - and has remained there to date.

Flash ahead to 2001. Goss has come out from behind the mixing board (where he enjoyed success with groups like Kyuss) and has put Masters Of Reality back together. Welcome To The Western Lodge was first released in Britain back in 1999, but it took two years before anyone on this side of the drink would take another chance on Goss's one-man project. (Actually, the band is Goss plus whomever he happens to be playing with at the moment - not unlike Matt Johnson of The The. This time around, John Leahy fills the gaps with drums, some keyboards, and some bass.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If Goss refuses to be anything, it's predictable. Welcome To The Western Lodge jumps from style to style, eschewing categorization and, to a point, pop success with this disc. But there are many moments on this album which suggest there's more than a little method - as well as substance - to Goss's madness.

The 13 tracks on this disc pass quickly, clocking in at under 39 minutes. But Goss seems like he gets across in that short time span exactly what he wanted to say - and more often than not, the message is one worth hearing. Whether it's the hard rock-based groove that is laid down on "Moriah" or it's the Beatles-esque spin he puts on "Baby Mae" (sounding a lot like "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" at times), whether it's the brief but potent statement about the potential duality of Goss's views on God ("Ember Day" - which clocks in at a whopping 54 seconds) or the hauntingly beautiful word portraits on "Lover's Sky," Goss seems to know exactly what he's doing with Welcome To The Western Lodge.

In fact, there's only one moment on the whole disc which I found unlistenable - namely, the annoying squawk passing for a lead vocal on the chorus of "Calling Dr. Carrion". The effects-laden nasal-drip style of this delivery is so shrill that you might actually see wallpaper curling up around your house - my God, who let Fran Drescher by a microphone? Yes, only one so-so track out of 13 isn't a bad average, but ths is one where you should dive for the "fast forward" button on the CD player. (Interestingly enough, if it weren't for the chorus, the track would be listenable.)

Even the fuzz-laced bass drivings of the opening track "It's Shit" don't distract from the power of the music that Goss and Leahy have created on this disc. While Welcome To The Western Lodge is the kind of disc that will confuse at first, subsequent listenings prove that this disc purposely kicks down any attempt at categorization and challenges the listener to just sit back and let the music take control of the ride. In the end, it's the best way to experience the disc - and should definitely put Goss back on the musical map as a performer and songwriter.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Spitfire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.