John Paul Keith – The Man That Time Forgot

The Record That Time Forgot would be a more apt title for this, John Paul Keith’s second longplayer on Big Legal Mess, a subsidiary of Fat Possum.

I was hipped to this record last May by a tweet from Atlanta ex-pat Kelly Hogan that it was streaming on the Oxford American site, which mentioned a June 2012 release. When I was researching this review, however, I discovered it was originally released in June 2011. Did I mention, by the way, that Fat Possum’s motto is: “We’re trying our best”?

All of which is to say that this record flew under my, and apparently most folks’, radar and I am here to rectify that.

This record is easily the most confident, joyful slab of power pop to be released in America since Marshall Crenshaw’s eponymous debut in 1982.

Like that record, The Man That Time Forgot hits the ground running with the opening cut, “Never Could Say No” and doesn’t let up until a perfect, economical 33 minutes later.

Along the way, Keith, the original lead guitarist for Knoxville’s V-Roys, and his consummate backing band The One Four Fives dabble in a range of styles: Eddie Cochran-style raveup, Bakersfield country and Bacharach pop without seeming like an arch revival act.

The key here is the classic songwriting, which is a quantum leap beyond Keith’s workman-like 2009 debut Spills & Thrills, and Keith’s ace in the hole: keyboard player Al Gamble whose roller-rink organ and tasty piano serves as a musical foil to JPK’s riffage much like NRBQ’s Terry Adams goosed along Big Al Anderson.

The standout cut, “Somebody Ought to Write A Song About You,” is as fine a slice of dreamy summertime pop as ever produced by Goffin/King. Might Keith be the love child of Carole King and Bobby Fuller, whose “Let Her Dance” is echoed in the melody line of TMTTF’s “Bad Luck Baby”?

Regardless of what year this record was released, this could be the sound of the summer of 2013. Call in sick on a Thursday afternoon, get a six of tallboy PBRs, plug this into yer iPod boombox and start the weekend.

John Paul Keith
The Man That Time Forgot
[Big Legal Mess]