On the front of for The Love Of Music, there is a small red sticker that says "Debut solo acoustic CD. Songs about politics, racism, and everyday life."
Sweet, the sticker more or less just wrote my review for me. All I need to do is throw in a couple adjectives about just how great these songs about politics, racism, and everyday life are, and we're good to go.
But I suppose I should expound slightly more, so here goes - Mike Park is a punk rock philanthropist; running a successful indie label out of his parents' garage while founding the Plea For Peace Foundation and subsequent tour package to help raise money for the charity. As a side note, a portion of proceeds of sales of this CD will also go to the Plea For Peace Foundation, courtesy of Sub City.
Park's career has taken him every which way, through Skankin' Pickle and the B. Lee Band into the Chinkees. For The Love Of Music is the result of years of patient work by a man who, by all outward appearances, shouldn't have any time to write a song ever, let alone record and tour on one. But write and record these eleven songs he did, and I for one thank him.
These acoustic numbers are just what the sticker bills them as: songs about politics, racism, and everyday life. Park's Asian background gives him plenty of fodder for songs about racism, and songs like "From Korea" are chock full of his brand of biting humor and matter-of-fact lyrical style.
Also, many people associate "acoustic" with words like "suck," "lame," and "wussy." Someone must have forgotten to give Mike this memo, as these songs rock just as hard as if they were plugged in. Park enlists friends such as Pat Ford and Rob Kellenberger [both of too many Chicago bands to even begin naming] on about half of the songs to play electric bass and drums, and while Mike's solid baritone and guitar can carry a track easily by themselves, the extra instrumentation just gives each one of those songs an extra kick of memorability. "Counting Sheep" is a beautiful 5 minute ballad, whereas "Southbound 280" delivers with an uptempo rock song that makes your head bop while your mind expands.
In a perfect world, this CD would sell a million copies and all of the work Mike Park does would finally be vindicated through this shiny plastic disc. As it stands, this will probably just fall through the cracks as yet another poorly-promoted indie release that sells a handful of copies before it goes out of print, with each person who owns one praising it to high heaven and making everyone else wish they were on board the USS Mike Park before it set sail.
Okay, that last part was a bit too much rambling for my liking, but the point is, this CD is an honest, sincere document of one man's trials and tribulations over the past three decades. Mike Park should have earned your attention and respect long before this, but in case you're one of the uneducated, this is a good enough place to begin your conversion to Parkism as any.
On That Stage
Present Day Memories