Rick Berlin (www.rickberlin.com ), the Boston-based rock and roll legend since the 1970’s, has confirmed October 23rd for his 15th full-length release, Always On Insane from The Whitehaus Family Record. Â A record release hometown show (and soon-to-be-event) is planned for October 25 is planned for the Magic Room Gallery in Allston, Ma.
Berlin’s 14 new soul-bearing Rock and Roll tunes on Always On Insane are rooted in the lyrical/vocal tradition of Warren Zevon, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen and channel the vocals of Iggy Pop. Backed by the first-class musical ensemble The Nickel and Dime Band, whose brass, backing vocals and diverse range pepper Berlin’s haunting tales of aging, promiscuity, good times, loss and the healing powers of rock and roll. It’s clear that if HBO shot a musical drama in Boston, not New Orleans, Rick Berlin would be the Kermit Ruffins of the fictional series “Jamaica Plain” instead of “Treme”.
So how has Rick Berlin thrived in Boston all this time? It’s his frenetic, iconoclastic, never-give-up credo that endears him to the half-his-age backing band and as well as artists like Kickstarter millionaire and musical iconoclast Amanda Palmer, who said, “Thank you so much, Rick Berlin, for just fucking existing. You are so awesome. You are a fucking inspiration and always will be.”
Tracks from the Always On Insane are:
1. (I’m a) Slut
2. No One Can Be Everything
3. Hilary (Galway Girl)
5. I Love You In The Rain
6. 7 Foot Woman
8. Beer Belly
9. As Long As It Takes
10. I’m Jes’ Sayin’
11. Summer Roof
12. Party Comin’ Up The Stairs
14. All In This Together
Since the early 1970’s, Rick Berlin has been a fixture on the New England music scene, beginning first with Orchestra Luna and later as a solo artist. Through it all, Berlin has kept both his perspective and his sanity in tact while the (music) world revolved around him. Not many musicians today can lay claim to having played at the Frank Zappa 10th Anniversary party, turned down a $100,000 deal from Seymour Stein’s Sire Records in the late seventies, called Karla DeVito a band mate until she joined Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” tour, formed a band called The Shelly Winters Project, played 11 years (!) of Monday’s at Boston’s oldest drag bar, all the while founding & producing The Jamaica Plain Music Festival. New Orleans might have had “Emperor of the Universe” in Ernie K. Doe, but Boston still has its ‘Emperor of Centre Street’.
Currently working on world (read: regional) domination with Always On Insane, it’s fair to say that this is a record you rarely hear anymore. It’s lyrically honest (and funny), runs the gamut from electric piano ballads, beefy ska tinged jump-arounds to good time sing-a-longs. So how has Berlin maintained a steady career in New England of more than 30 plus years? 1) legendary live shows, 2) nonconformity, 3) fans literally ages 16-60 and 4) the support of the Boston media including the Boston Phoenix, the Boston Globe and the now defunct WBCN (RIP).
Anyone who grew up in or spent time in the 617 area code is well aware of the impact of Rick Berlin on the Boston music scene over the last 30 or so years. With Always On Insane it’s about time the world outside of the Boston found out about this regional legend that really should be a national treasure.