Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Who Is Parthenon Huxley?

Who is Parthenon Huxley?

Depends on who you ask. ELO fans know him as Jeff Lynne’s replacement. People like Paul McCartney’s lead guitarist Rusty Anderson know him as a gifted producer and collaborator. Insiders in the music business know him as songwriter who has co-written 4 top twenty hits and some album tracks for major artists. The cast of The Flintstone’s movie know him as the bass-player in the BC-52’s. His family knows him as Rick Miller.

If you ask me, he is a fantastic singer/songwriter who has recorded some the finest songs that most people have never heard. His sound covers many bases, but in my favorite records of his I hear psychedelic John Lennon, Byrds-like background vocals, McCartneyesque melodies and great music.

A few years back a friend of mine asked me if I’ve ever heard of Parthenon Huxley, or "P. Hux." I admitted that I hadn't. This friend is an avid ELO fan, and knowing my relative lack of enthusiasm for their music, told me of his solo work and asked me to listen to it with an open mind. I told him “no thanks” and forgot about it. A week or two later, a package showed up at my door. It was two CD’s from P. Hux: Deluxe” and “Purgatory Falls.” Included in the package was a note that said, “Just listen. Start with ‘Purgatory Falls.’ You can thank me later."

The next day I put “Purgatory Falls” in the car and headed toward work. “4258” is the opening track. Clean acoustic guitar and some cello. Sounds nice. And this voice. A voice that fills the room (or the car in this case.) A warm, mature, honest voice that conveys the true depth and meaning of the lyric.

Then...

Track 2. Sparse drum intro. Percussive guitar strum. Haunting “do do do do’s” doubled on the guitar with this killer tone. Harmonized vocals:

I loved everything about you
I even love the things I never loved about you.”

That killed me. I cranked it up as loud as I dared and was completely consumed by this track. Who is this guy? He isn’t kidding. This stuff has the honesty and depth of some of John Lennon’s most personal songs.

Some songs grab you quicker than others. The next one to grab me was track 5, which is “Red Eyeliner.” Arranged similarly to “Strawberry Fields” in the verses. Crunchy guitar, bass and drums on the refrain:

“If you don’t want me to cry
Show me we don’t really die.”

At my age, you get really sick of this endless parade of twenty-something hosers created by some suit with no soul and a lust for quick cash, actually aspiring to angst, as if it were a badge of honor. Million dollar budgets, videos and press fueling their cries. Clearly, this album wasn't that.

When I found out what it was, I was floored.

In the early 90’s, “Parth” found his way to California. He met the girl of his dreams, married her and wrote songs about her that appear on “Deluxe.” Some great Lennonesque pop there along with some mature lyrics and wry observations concerning the music business. This is a happy man who has found love and a life of music. Sadly, his wife was stricken with cancer and taken from him sometime after the release of "Deluxe." He chronicled his loss on the “Purgatory” record. Listening to it in context is an emotional experience. I can barely get through it without getting teary-eyed, but I keep going back as it is a true work of art.

Life does go on, and he has again found happiness. He has remarried and they have a child. Since the release of “Purgatory Falls” he has been busy touring with the new incarnation of ELO, (The Orchestra,) writing songs, producing, playing gigs and recording. His most recent release is titled “Homemade Spaceship” and it is a tribute album to ELO. I have heard the record and will be buying it soon. Hard decision for me, but I have to admit those songs sound good in his hands. He has completed his next album “Everything’s Different Now” which is an automatic “buy” for me the day it comes out. The last I heard it will contain his remake of “I’m Looking Through You” which was used to prove to the producers of “I Am Sam” that remakes could work for the movie. Ironically it was not used in the film, but I have his version of XTC’s “Another Satellite” and it is incredible. I have high expectations for “I’m Looking Through You” as well as his new songs, some of which can be heard acoustically on the intimate and fun “P. Hux in Your Parlour.”

If you are interested in hearing more, please check out these links:

P. Hux Mp3s.

P. Hux Store.

2 Comments:

Blogger fgfdsg said...

Once again, one of those artist's I've always meant to check out, but have never crossed paths with yet.

It's amazing how often this happens. Becoming aware of music in the early 80's, how could i have not have any Squeeze albums, and have heard nothing except "Cool for cats" and "Take me i'm yours".

I'll keep my eyes open for both.

(Oh, Jason Falkner does a great version of ELO's 'Do Ya').

3:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Geez, Al, I can't keep up with you! Nice to know, though, that there are some musicians out there just trying to do good work. I'd never heard of him, but - well - now I have.

3:55 PM  

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