A Small Good Thing

Bocephus King

New West Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Oh, great, just what we needed - another Tom Waits-like singer.

Bocephus King has a similar hoarse delivery style, but as his most recent release A Small Good Thing proves, unless you have solid material to back you up, it's all for naught.

The singer/guitarist stretches 12 songs out for what sometimes feels like infinity. "Hours Before Light," the longest of the tracks at just over nine minutes, is a real chore to get through. It's not exciting in the least, guaranteeing the listener will be fading in and out of consciousness throughout the track. Not the best way to make an impression on the listener.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If it were only one track on A Small Good Thing that was weak, it would at least be a hole that King could crawl out of. Unfortunately, the road is littered with such potholes. "What Am I Doing Here?" is delivered almost lifelessly, as if King didn't believe the words he was singing into the microphone. Other tracks, like "Blues For Buddy Bolden," "Ruby" and the title track, all fall flat. Only at the end of the album, on "Land Of Plenty," does King finally get the concept right; too bad he got the idea too late.

What makes this album at least bearable is the crack rhythm section of The Rigalattos. Guitarist Paul Rigby, keyboardist Doug Fujisawa, bassist Darren Parris and drummer Dan Parry all inject life into these songs that is sorely needed. Even on a track like "A Small Good Thing," The Rigalattos know just what the song needs musically to make it somewhat interesting. The problem is, what they often take to a new height gets dragged down with King's lackluster performance.

It's not that I don't like the new style of country; honestly, the more I hear of it, the more I like it. Unfortunately for King, I don't think he's got the creative spark he needs (and shows on the rare occasion on A Small Good Thing) to really carve out a niche for himself. And frankly, that's too bad.

A Small Good Thing is an album that lives up to its name, regrettably. If you're big into country music, you might find a little more to appreciate than the rest of us. But if King wants to enjoy more of the good stuff, he needs to discover the spark that puts life into his performances. Otherwise, all of this would be a small good thing of the past.

Rating: C-

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© 1999 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 New West Records, and is used for informational purposes only.