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John Trudell
Johnny Damas and Me

Maybe if I were thirty or forty years old instead of just turning twenty, I could enjoy the work of John Trudell a bit more. The music ranges from Lionel Richie–like easy-listening favorites to clean Bruce Springsteen–style rock. Johnny Damas and Me is excessively produced by the adult contemporary legend Jackson Browne. Some guy named Quiltman does “traditional vocals,” which sound more like an autistic Tarzan than an Indian tribesman. John Trudell, the main dude behind the band of his name, writes rant ‘n’ roll lyrics that are sung-spoken in Lou Reed fashion. Most are politically correct and socially conscious, with a few love songs thrown in. He dares to call his words poetry. In “See the Woman,” he elaborates: “In some tribes she is free / in some religions / she is under man / in some societies / she’s worth what she consumes.” In another tune, Trudell displays his dissatisfaction with corporate images. In “Shadow over Sisterland” he notices that “economic bondage / runs by those rules / the laws of justice / are business decisions.” So this is poetry? Is a bear Catholic? Does the pope shit in the woods? No way. The title track has every single line repeated two or three times. A sign of genius? How about laziness? I could hear this album being played on a lite-hits radio station, but, at this point in my life, John Trudell doesn’t belong on my stereo.

Originally published in Ink Nineteen in May 1994.