Satur-debut – JASON FALKNER “PRESENTS AUTHOR UNKNOWN”
You won’t find many debut albums from a solo artist as impressive or truly “solo” as Jason Falkner’s 1996 release Presents Author Unknown. The former member of Jellyfish, The Grays and The Three O’Clock proved that he could do it all here. I already praised him and this record in the fifth Great Out Of The Gate post and you’ll find those accolades below.
Incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Jason Falkner has been mentioned at this blog numerous times, as a founding member of ‘90s power-pop groups Jellyfish and The Grays, and even in my series on Foo Fighters (since his voice often reminds me of Dave Grohl at his most melodic). His debut is a “solo” album in the truest sense of the word, as Falkner plays every instrument with the exception of a single guitar part on one song. In spite of this one-man-band approach, it’s as catchy & diverse as anything recorded by a full band, and he proves himself to be not just adept but truly skilled at every instrument. All of that wouldn’t mean much if the songs were forgettable but that’s not a problem here. From splashy album opener “I Live” to the moody & intense “Don’t Show Me Heaven,” from the propulsive “Miracle Medicine” to the bright & shiny “Miss Understanding,” from the slow-building “She Goes To Bed” to the chugging “Hectified,” it’s one melodic gem after another. He’s gone on to work with Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Brendan Benson and many others, and his solo career has been consistently great.
If this is your first time hearing Mr. Falkner’s music, please let me know what kind of impact these songs made on you. You can’t go wrong with any of his albums and this one is a great place to start. However, if you’re looking for some relaxing music with recognizable melodies, I highly recommend both volumes of his Bedtime With The Beatles series. I also hope to hear from other longtime Jason Falkner fans since most of us are dedicated and passionate about his music.
Sounds pretty catchy! Naturally, I’m also curious about Falkner’s Beatles covers.
I generally admire multi-instrumentalists. At my best, when I had plenty of time to practice, I guess I was an okay acoustic guitarist and bassist. That’s barely two instruments. I’d love to be able to play drums and keyboards.
Falkner’s albums of Beatles songs were designed for parents to play to their babies & young children to help them relax &/or fall asleep while subconsciously learning those great songs. If you go in with that knowledge they’re very enjoyable.
When I was in high school my goal was to learn multiple instruments so I could write & record my own songs, but that never went beyond the “wishing” phase. Recently I’ve been slowly following a guitar course on YouTube and I can now play six chords, so maybe one day I’ll have some kind of skill on something other than the drums. I’m always blown away when people can write songs & record all the instruments themselves while making it sound like a band. Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, John Fogerty, Prince, Richard X. Heyman are several that come to mind.
Good luck on your guitar journey, Rich! It is just as important to play music that you enjoy. I started on Hot Cross Buns and HATED it! Switched guitar teachers and he taught me House of the Rising Sun on the first lesson and then right to Led Zeppelin. Needless to say, I was hooked.
I think 2 more recent examples of someone who can (and has) played all instruments on an album are Dave Grohl (first Foo Fighters, Probot, etc) and Lenny Kravitz (just about all his albums).
So far I’ve kinda been able to play “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, “Love Me Do” by The Beatles and “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. They help me work on my chord changes. I just learned C and G chords which are slightly more challenging for me but I’m enjoying the challenge. Good call about Dave Grohl and especially Lenny Kravitz. I loved his first couple of records (not sure why I didn’t include Let Love Rule in my Great Out Of The Gate series) but at some point I lost interest in his catalog. He is a talented fella. No doubt about it.
This may get a bit technical for the non-guitar types but here goes:
Early in my playing, I learned how to play C as Cadd9. I always liked the extra color and thought it sounded prettier and more lush. The frets would be
Cadd9 – X32033
It adds the D (9th) on the 2nd string and plays the G (5th of the chord) on the 1st string instead of the E. That makes it really easy to switch to G
G – 320033
As you just have to move your first 2 fingers upwards in the same relative position. It also keeps your third finger on that D note as an “anchor” for the switch to D
With those three chords, you can play all sorts of rock tunes. Add the E chord or Amin (again, same shape shifted up/down a fret) and you are in even more business!
Back to the thread…if you missed out on Kravitz-5, you should check it out. It was pretty much a global hit but I enjoyed that album from cover to cover. Like you, I too got “lost” around Circus just prior to 5 and haven’t gone back for much more since other than his single “Again.”
Your guitar stuff is way over my head at this point but thanks for sharing. Will definitely check out that Kravitz album based on your recommendation. I never disliked anything I heard from him after the third album but none of the songs made me want to hear more. Whenever I’m in the mood for his music, those first two are my go-to choices.
No problem. You said you’d just learned C & G. I was just trying to show you perhaps an alternate way to play them that might be easier for the beginner and is usually how I teach them to friends. Maybe mentally mark this post and come back to it in a month or so. It might make more sense. At least the concept of an “anchor finger” where when you are switching chords, one finger stays on the same fret or at least the same string. It can make it a whole lot easier to switch than taking all fingers off and then laboriously trying to put them back on when they just don’t seem to want to go where you want them to.
Good luck on your journey…happy to help any time. You have my e-mail.
I appreciate the input but I didn’t even understand how to read some of what you wrote. You’ll be pleased to know I’ve been following lessons on YouTube from a guy who’s really highly rated, and he’s lived up to the hype. Anchor finger was one of his early lessons after I learned my first few chords.
I hope the lack of comments on this thread is only due to the relative unfamiliarity of Falkner to people and not any mass health related issues! As we enter chronologically into the later 90s, perhaps we’ll be easing out of the demographic base of most of your readers?
Never heard of Jason but do know Jellyfish. Not having ever heard these songs, they stylistically seem to fit for that era and some of the various bands I might have listened to. Nothing offensive. I’m not immediately grabbed by them but that can come and go. I appreciate being introduced to music I might have missed the first time around and, based on some of your reviews, I’ve purchased several featured albums in the last year. Thanks, as always!
Hi Bill. Thanks for giving Jason’s music a listen. Not sure why there wasn’t much feedback on this one but I tend not to worry about that. Hopefully over time people will stumble on this post and maybe discover a new favorite. Or maybe it points them to Jellyfish. I’ve never met anyone who’s heard Jellyfish & wasn’t impressed by what they hears.
I really appreciate your feedback & support. Hope you’re doing well.
Jason visited the UK regularly in the late 1990s to tour in support of this LP and its equally terrific follow up ‘Can You Still Feel’ and I was lucky enough to see him live several times. If you like his stuff I’d also recommend ‘Ro Sham Bo’, the 1994 LP by The Grays, a short-lived band Falkner formed with fellow multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion.
Hi Swede. I’m glad you got to see Jason in concert. I was also fortunate to see him solo a couple of times, as well as with Jellyfish on their “Bellybutton” tour. Yes, I’m a big fan of The Grays. In fact, they were included in the first post of my One And Done series: https://kamertunesblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/one-and-done-my-favorite-one-album-artists-part-1/. I’m also a fan of his TV Eyes project with Roger Manning & Brian Reitzell. Well worth checking out if you’re not familiar with it.