[Review] Jerry Harrison/Casual Gods: Walk on Water (1990)

The second coming of Casual Gods, although I wouldn’t expect any miracles.

Kronomyth 3.0: Modern lubbers.

The followup to Casual Gods featured more or less the same players, now credited as Casual Gods, playing more or less the same music as Talking Heads minus the genius of David Byrne and the joy of Tom Tom Club. In other words, a lot like Jerry Harrison’s last album. Walk on Water is an intelligent and intricate record, but there’s no hit single, no “Rev It Up” to get revved up about. Instead, while you can appreciate what Harrison added to the Heads’ conversation, it’s unclear how much he has to say on his own. The fact that this was his last solo album probably speaks volumes to that point.

Once again, the album cover features a pro-human rights/environment image, this time of a rocky shore covered by oil. The lyrics again suggest dissatisfaction with the status quo of cowboys, doctors, and the United States in general. Just the sort of thing that tickles Democrats and draws the ire of Republicans. Harrison is a pretty good lyricist, even if he never really spells out the source of his dissatisfaction. As a singer, however, he’s something of a liability. I found his voice genuinely annoying on Big Mouth. Then again, maybe that was the whole point.

Jerry Harrison doesn’t seem to have a big ego. He shares songwriting credits with the band, plays largely in the background, sings but recognizes his limitations. The supporting players are nothing to sneeze at: Bernie Worrell, Adrian Belew, Ernie Brooks (The Modern Lovers), Alex Weir, Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie (Thompson Twins). They ensure that everything moves like clockwork. As a result, Walk on Water is a very professional-sounding affair. If it doesn’t measure up to Talking Heads (and it doesn’t), it also doesn’t fall short of expectations for a Jerry Harrison solo album. To ask for more at this point would be asking for a miracle.

Original elpee version

A1. Flying Under Radar
A2. Kick Start
A3. I Don’t Mind
A4. Sleep Angel
A5. I Cry for Iran
B1. Confess
B2. Cowboy’s Got to Go
B3. Never Let It Slip
B4. If the Rain Returns
B5. Facing the Fire
B6. The Doctors Lie

Original compact disc version
A1. Flying Under Radar (Jerry Harrison/Dan Hartman/Ernie Brooks) (3:49)
A2. Kick Start (Jerry Harrison/Alex Weir/Bernie Worrell/Ernie Brooks) (3:51)
A3. I Don’t Mind (Jerry Harrison/Tom Bailey/Alannah Currie/Ernie Brooks) (3:29)
A4. Confess (Jerry Harrison/Tom Bailey/ Alannah Currie/Ernie Brooks) (3:40)
A5. Sleep Angel (Jerry Harrison/Ernie Brooks/Joyce Bowden) (6:05)
A6. I Cry for Iran (Jerry Harrison/Alex Weir/Bernie Worrell/Ernie Brooks/Joyce Bowden) (6:01)
A7. Never Let It Slip (Jerry Harrison/Alex Weir/Bernie Worrell/John Sieger) (3:18)
A8. Cowboy’s Got to Go (Jerry Harrison/John Sieger/Ernie Brooks) (4:52)
A9. If the Rains Return (Jerry Harrison/Alex Weir/Bernie Worrell/Ernie Brooks) (4:23)
A10. Remain Calm (Jerry Harrison) (2:41)
A11. Big Mouth (Jerry Harrison/Alex Weir/Bernie Worrell/Tom Bailey) (3:31)
A12. Facing the Fire (Jerry Harrison/Alex Weir/Bernie Worrell/Ernie Brooks/Arthur Russell) (4:35)
A13. The Doctors Lie (Jerry Harrison/Ernie Brooks/Alex Weir/Arthur Russell) (5:39)

The Players

Jerry Harrison (keyboards, vocals, guitar), Joyce Bowden (background singer, vocal arrangements), Ernie Brooks (bass guitar), Arlene Newson (background singer), Brice Wassy (drums, music coordinator), Alex Weir (guitar), Bernie Worrell (keyboards) with Tawatha Agee (background singer on A1), Tom Bailey (Fairlight, chorus vocal arrangement). Adrian Belew (guitar), Sherrel Harmon (background singer), Dan Hartman (keyboards and background singer on A1), Rick Jaeger (drums), Jason Klagstad (guitar), Jim Liban (harmonica on A7), Sammy Llanas (background singer on A8), Etienne Mboppe (bass guitar on A7), Abdou Mboup (percussion), Djamila Mina (background singer on A13), Loveless Redmond (background singer on A12), Chris Spedding (guitar), Vaneese Thomas (background singer on A1), Michael Webb (background singer), Arthur Weir (bass guitar on A11). Produced by Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks, Dan Hartman, Alex Weir, Bernie Worrell, Tom Bailey; mixed by Tom Bailey, James Farber, Keith Fernley, David Henszey, Bob Kraushaar, Jay Mark, David Vartarian, A1 mixed by Tom Lord-Alge, A6 mixed by Dave Jerden; engineered by Richard Manwaring, Jay Mark, David Vartarian; overdub engineered by Dan Hartman, David Henszey.

The Pictures

Front cover photograph by M. Baytoff, Black Star. Inside photograph by G. Orth, Sipa Press. Flap photograph by J. Schultz, Sipa Press. Design by M&Co.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, expanded cassette and expanded compact disc on May 15, 1990 in the US (Fly/Sire/Warner Bros., 25943-1/4/2) and the UK and Australia (Fontana, 846 321-1/4) with picture innersleeve. Reached #188 on the US charts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *