Call Me Kai
Released: April 18, 2021
Sales (in millions): --
Genre: progressive rock
Disc 1 (Decent Exposure ‘85):
Disc 2 (Sometimes Why ‘86):
Disc 3 (Point Blank ‘87):
Disc 4 (Mixed Bag ’84-’87):
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About the Album:
This 4-CD box set covers recordings made by Kevin Gilbert from 1984 to 1987 between his years with NRG (1984) and Giraffe (1987-89). Gilbert adopted the stage name “Kai” in the mid-to-late ‘80s and made it a goal to create and distribute an album each year to his friends and family. As he said, “I made a rule for myself when I was fifteen and I got a job at a studio. I said, ‘Once a year I’m going to finish 10 songs, 45 minutes of music, and call it a record.” PP 25 years after his death, the estate of Kevin Gilbert has released this collection of recordings from that era.
In episode 5 of the Kevin Gilbert podcast, guest Mark McCrite said these were the albums as Gilbert initially conceived them. YH He and Wayne Perez, the KG estate archivist and host of the podcast, discuss how Kevin hadn’t intended his recordings prior to 1990’s Toy Matinee album to be distributed. However, McCrite notes that after Gilbert’s death, early recordings emerged which weren’t top-notch recordings and it made sense to rerelease quality versions of these songs.
McCrite comments throughout the podcast on select tracks. Regarding Simpler Times, from the Decent Exposure disc, noting that he liked the vocal, arrangement, and drum-machine programming, comparing the latter to Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” YH
He also noted how Walking in Your Shoes has an intro inspired by the acapella harmony vocals from Yes’ “Leave It” and then a keyboard sequence similar to “Changes,” another cut from the Yes’ 90125 album. He also called the sax doubling with the bass at the end “Zappaesque.” YH
Perez says he hears a big shift in Gilbert’s music from the first disc to the second. Decent Exposure still had a similar sound to Gilbert’s 1984 NRG project while Sometimes Why showed more of his emerging abilities at production. McCrite also said he thought Gilbert’s songwriting showed notable improvement.
Perez refers to the Tired Old Man Suite as a “complex and multi-faceted track.” YH He notes that this song as well as Suits Me Fine were both performed live by Giraffe. McCrite compared “Tired Old Man” to the Who’s “A Quick One While He’s Away,” saying it was Gilbert’s mini-opera. YH Perez noted that the version that showed up later on 2009’s Nuts was initially intended for Gilbert’s 1995 Thud album.
They also talk about other songs on the collection which were recycled in later years, such as Staring into Nothing and Image Maker for The Shaming of the True.
There’s even one track, Terpsichorean, which is recycled three times within the Call Me Kai collection. It first appears on Decent Exposure as part of the “Tired Old Man Suite.” Then it shows up again on Mixed Bag under that title and again as Yo Yo Yo.
They also discuss the song Nightmares, which was recorded by the Motels’ Martha Davis for the soundtrack of Night of the Creeps. Perez says Giraffe’s Stan Cotey claims that Gilbert stripped Davis’ vocals and recorded his own for his version of the song. YH McCrite also notes the influence of Yes’ 90125 again where Gilbert uses samples at the end of the song from “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”
Perez explained that the fourth disc, Mixed Bag, showed where the seeds of Gilbert’s soundtrack work began. McCrite commented specifically on the song Sometimes Why, which Perez called “melancholy and casual.” YH McCrite thought the instrumental did a good job showcasing Gilbert’s specific style as a pianist. YH
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First posted 6/4/2021.