SZABO, MARK - CHOCOLATE COVERED BAD THINGS (CD)
If you start in the middle, then that would bring you to Horsey (America made them call themselves "Good"). The Good Horsey record (and handful of singles) had Tom Rapp tied up with the ex-Liontamers going no-wave on his ass (how's that for point-of-no-reference references). Too short-lived and sporadic for most of us, we compromised and called them seminal. One of 'em (Mark Szabo) has digitally re-emerged, with the help of Good Horsey drummer Max Lee, amongst others, under the guise of Mark, and some things change and some things stay the same. The music operates under a softer light here; an acoustic warmth which will surely get "singer-songwriter" launched at it. Though Pearls Before Swine and those other ESP folkies no one's heard of do spring to mind, I'm also reminded of Blue Mask-era Lou Reed: domesticity and fierce matter-of-facts somehow turn real poetic in Marks hands (jarringly so), much like on that record. The weirdest thing to me, though, amidst the jittery baroque melodies and chicken scratch folk-skronk guitar Mark has patented (check out 'By A Nose', for Mark's guitar alone _ a revelation), is the pervading Randy Newman-ness of the record (an influence I'd heard mentioned but never quite understood). There is portraiture and satire going on here at a level seldom aimed at, or attained, in the songs of these bit-oriented days. But don't get me wrong; this isn't 'literary' music. This is pill music, first and foremost. The pills Ronee Blakely collapsed with mid-song in Nashville are the same ones they force-fed Marcy on 'Daytime Emmy' And listen to the creaking chairs and the disembodied voices way out back, they are as important as the piano pounding out the world's last notes.