As regular readers already know, Alyson Greenfield is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who is overdue here in Los Angeles. Originally from Ohio, she is also the founder of the Tinderbox Music Festival. She has an MFA in creative writing and is the co-author of the award-winning Sitting On Fire, a short film based on her story which was shown at various film festivals including the Philadelphia Documentary and Fiction Festival and the California Independent Film Festival. Greenfield is a former teacher and is presently based in Brooklyn, NY.
Recently, a lovely young lady at Roc-Elle Records who promotes Greenfield’s music sent your crusty chronicler an advanced copy of Greenfield’s upcoming release Rock Out With Your Glockenspiel Out. It certainly was no disappointment . . . except for the fact that it was a bit too brief. Still, Greenfield may be a believer in the old show biz adage of always leaving your audience wanting more. If that’s the case, she has succeeded admirably.
Greenfield has her obvious influences but more often than not she marches to the beat of her own drummer (or glockenspielist as the case may be). Rock Out With Your Glockenspiel Out opens with Greenfield’s piano cover of Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys” (perhaps better known as the theme song to TV’s COPS. Her take on this 1987 release and 1993 hit US single is both incredibly familiar and yet refreshingly new.
In fact, the entire EP is like this. Saying that Greenfield’s version of Ace of Base’s 1993 hit song “All That She Wants” is a mere cover doesn’t do the track justice. Greenfield’s piano composition here bears little resemblance to the platinum number 2 charting tune. Her vocals even make the lyrics seem new.
While your rascally record reviewer can’t quite picture Greenfield ever dressing and dancing like Kelis in a music video—and even if he COULD it wouldn’t do to admit it here—she does manage to play an interesting version of the 2003, Grammy-nominated number 3 hit “Milkshake”. Mind you, anyone who has followed Greenfield long enough knows this gal might be white but she ain’t afraid ta go urban.
While what Greenfield does here may technically have been done before by others, she still manages to make even this cover album a fun and personalized project. Witness her work with LL Cool J’s gold, number 17 Grammy-winning “Mama Said Knock You Out”. (Your crusty chronicler does wonder why Greenfield didn’t get her grandmother to shout: “Alyson! Alyson! Get upstairs and take out that garbage”. Maybe in the music video?)
The closing cut here is perhaps her most publicized adaptation, a cover of Coolio’s Grammy winning number “Gangsta’s Paradise”. The original was used in the 1995 original film soundtrack to Dangerous Minds. Too bad Greenfield couldn’t do her version in the movie Bad Teacher. Greenfield surpasses other artists who have done something similar such as Cat Power. In fact, when it comes to a comparison, Greenfield’s seems to have mastered her instruments more so than Power and furthermore her vocals—while individualistic—are more enjoyable an energetic than Power’s. (If your local Los Angeles’ indie record store doesn’t yet have this recording then request it and they will surely order it for you.) It’s a refreshing aural pallet cleanser to say the least. In fact, the only odd almost disappointing thing about this release—other than its brevity—is that “Gangsta’s Paradise” seems to be the only song that prominently features Greenfield’s glockenspiel work. All in all though, Rock Out With Your Glockenspiel Out is a truly fun albeit brief disc.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.