Saturday, June 6, 2009
I - Michael Iceberg - "Iceberg Does It Live"
I bought this album at Red Roof Resale Shop outside of Brenham a few years ago. The title and cover made the record intriguing enough to buy, despite knowing nothing about the performer. Through the magic that is “internet”, here’s a little background on Mr. Iceberg:
Michael Iceberg was a mainstay at Walt Disney World as a featured performer from the mid 70’s to the late 80’s. His show took place at the Tomorrowland Terrace, and had to have been quite the draw to have lasted so long. He was a solo performer who had constructed his own menagerie of keyboards, synthesizers, and electronics (known as “the Mechanical Contraption”) to present a wash of songs, notes, and noises to delight the masses who came to find their own inner “Mickey/Minnie” (some of them were bi, naturally – unfortunately, those that were upfront about it weren’t welcome in the park until 1990). This album is evidence that at least one of these performances was recorded and sold to tourists as a souvenir.
Michael was obviously talented, and obviously very proud of said talents. As the back of the album reads:
“There seems to be a proliferation these days of musicians who desire to be the orchestra, all by themselves. Michael Iceberg has gone to great lengths to make his keyboard dream come true, and is clearly leader in the challenge to be a one human being orchestra. So masterful is his control of his extensive array of electronic musical devices, that he demonstrates daily to thousands his remarkable facility to perform music with multiple synthesizers, totally live, and all alone. The dream, the Iceberg machine, is a collection of Michael’s favorite instruments. Iceberg has envisioned ways for the various products to interconnect and electronic geniuses have periodically arrived at the scene to carry out the visions. Without them, it would not exist.”
To sum up, this record blows.
I mean majorly.
But why? Well,
A) it’s clearly a souvenir album – to be bought as an impulse item and then never listened to again.
B) it’s a vanity project – there’s nothing much original here – it begins with a quote from “Puff the Magic Dragon”, of all things, then proceeds to quote:
· Green Onions
· Dear Diary
· More than a Feeling
· Norwegian Wood
· It’s a Small World (After All)
· Handel’s Messiah
· Over the Rainbow
· Star Wars / Close Encounters Medley
· It’s a Small World (After All - Slight Return)
· the William Tell Overture
But for the most part, it’s just a lot of Moog synthesizers (you know how I have trouble spelling “pretentious” (thanks again to spellcheck), I have just as much trouble with “synthesizers” (why can’t every album I own just be guitars, bass and drums?) burping and farting. It’s not creative, it’s not talented, it’s just noise meant to amuse the consumers (there’s a great quote from Pete Townsend early in the Who’s career that is appropriate here; in discussing quality in rock music, he said “the fact is that our group hasn’t got any quality, it’s just musical sensationalism. You do something big on the stage, and a thousand geezers go ‘AAAAHHHH!’” You hit the nail on the head, Pete. Now stop screwing around with “Tommy” – it wasn’t very good in the first place.)
C) When I say “not talented”, obviously Iceberg Slim knows how to play keyboards, but it’s so (moons over my) hammy that it’s unlistenable. (Plus he clearly studied at the school of Keith Jarrett, for he shares the unfortunate trait of singing along to the melody in a toneless voice off mike.)
D) It’s freaking SAD. This is a cry out for attention from a big spazz. You cannot tell me that Michael Iceberg didn’t spend YEARS in his basement trying to figure out how to make his keyboard sound like a pig (which he eventually DID figure out – this album has proof!) while his mother brought him dinner and occasional news of the outside world. At one point, he moans “Love is what we’re here for / down from the mountain / and we’re here to save ourselves”. This wasn’t a part of any song per se; he just threw this in apropos of nothing going on around it. Later on side two (and this is the tipoff), he groans “and if she really cares for me / that’s all I want to know.” The prosecution rests – he’s never had a girlfriend, and has personified the “Mechanical Contraption” into his betrothed. He did this passion play EVERY NIGHT FOR 15 YEARS, just him and his keyboards, and he took great joy in all the classical gas he was passing (look at the cover, for heaven’s sake! He looks like either a) a man so impressed with what he’s doing that he’s oblivious to mankind at large in his general viscinity, most of whom are eating popcorn & wondering when the line for Space Mountain shuts down (“it may be the oldest attraction in the park, but ALL the pretty ladies still line up to ride Space Mountain! WHOOOOOO!”) As Frasier Crane may have asked, “Michael, what color is the sky in your world?”), or b) he’s doing a sunglasses-free impression of Stevie Wonder. Either way, he looks like a creep.) My intense dislike of everything about this record is tempered by the immense pity I feel for the individual; enough so that I feel like I must surf the net and find out if he’s alright, if he did find the woman that would say “I care for you”. Yet, at the same time, I only paid a dollar for the record, so how much of MY life do I seriously need to invest?
Verdict: after furthur research, I’ve discovered that Michael Iceberg lives in Maryland, and, with a “Kathy”, produced a spawn named “Jimmy Neutron”, who is rumored to be a musical prodigy. Somehow this brings me a fair amount of inner peace; yet, after tolerating this record, I feel like ripping my own veins out with my teeth.