Album Review IN MEMORY OF CAPTAIN TANK – John Tabacco

“In Memory Of Captain Tank” is the latest release from John Tabacco. It follows on the heels of his previous disc, 2019’s Ongoing Reflectamenta. Both CDs focus on his musical history from 1980 to the present and his seamless melding of the influences from mainly The Beatles, Frank Zappa and Steely Dan. “Captain Tank” takes these influences further by actually covering material from some of these artists. Frank Zappa is paid homage to here with the saddest of all Zappa tunes “Mom And Dad”, as well as a sincere cover of the Zappa/Collins 50’s Do Wop song “Fountain Of Love”.  A Walter Becker and Donald Fagen pre-Steely Dan song “Come Back Baby” is given a polished treatment staying true to the Steely Dan sound with guitar pro Joe Gioglio soloing and adding tasty Larry Carlton flourishes.

For the Beatles, Tabacco released in tandem a power pop version of “Misery” as a single (not on the album).  However, the CD does include Tabacco’s friend and musical cohort Susan DeVita’s song “Where’s My Yoko?” Here Tabacco belts out her Lennon inspired song with just the right amount of angst and pathos. The track was expertly produced and arranged by Swedish composer Hans Annellsson.  Other anomalies: Eric Block (an occasional Tabacco co-writer) adds to the menu showcasing JT’s singing and keyboard playing chops on his jazzy song about aging couples entitled “Spanish Island.”

A previously unreleased early 80’s confessional, Tabacco / DiMauro number, “So Inspired” gets a complete overhaul with funky guitar and bizarre R&B back up vocals. The other thirteen songs deal with topics regarding religious corruption, the meaning of life, love and whether everything we are is just a simulation. The musical dressings like most Tabacco CDs run the gamut of styles from samba to pop to fusion to 5/4 lullaby to synthetic folk to adult contemporary to avant-garde montage. It is yet another roller coaster ride for your ears; the summation of which is clearly stated by Tabacco in the outro to the montage piece “Alice Does It All Again.” Reflecting on his 40 years of recording Tabacco concludes, in deadpan fashion, with this observation:

“He finally realized that all his music making and desire to be a truly independent artist amounted to a pretty much meaningless existence. In fact, that was the only meaning. He played his role here in this three dimensional hallucination, lived in his mind and waited out the rest of his external life as it followed to its logical conclusion. Why he came back here to begin with was a burning question he hoped he’d get an answer to. Or not. He could never know anything for certain. Bummer.“

Of course the bizarre story of one “Captain Tank” is included here as well as multiple musical, lyrical and cover art clues reflecting on past releases. Since most of Tabacco’s material is somewhat unknown to the general public that might be a moot point. Fortunately, the material as esoteric as it may seem, is fairly accessible, sprinkled with pop sensibilities that will stick in your brain. No shortage of ear worms here!

If you happen to enjoy John Tabacco’s musical universe this album needs to be in your collection. Conceptual continuity never sounded so good.

The CD is available at www.johntabacco.bandcamp iTunes  Spotify etc…
Actual hard copies of the disc and booklet can be obtained via correspondence c/o [email protected]

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