By John M. Borack
For the Record: A Tribute to John Wicks
(Kool Kat Musik)
As a singer, songwriter and power pop icon—and as a damned good guy in general—John Wicks, who passed away due to complications from cancer in late 2018, is sorely missed. Thankfully, producer Jamie Hoover, pop journalist Richard Rossi and Kool Kat Musik have gone to great lengths to see that Wicks’ final songs (many co-written with Rossi, who also coordinated the project) receive the proper release they so richly deserve. For the Record is a lovely tribute with a twist: a gaggle of fellow musicians—all of whom had a special connection to Wicks—have dressed up and recorded eleven of his compositions that didn’t see the light of day in John’s far-too-brief lifetime. (The tunes were originally meant for a John Wicks album proper and although the backing tracks had been completed prior to Wicks’ death, he passed just before he could lay down the bulk of his lead vocals.) In addition to the 11 lead vocalists, ace instrumentalists/vocalists such as Chris Price, Elliot Easton, Zak “Son of Harry” Nilsson and Syd Straw lend their substantial talents to the mix.
Highlights on For the Record are plentiful: from Peter Case’s soulfully rockin’ “In & Out Motel” and Don Dixon’s wry, muscular “Money & A Fu Manchu” to Al Stewart’s wonderfully smooth “The Beltway” and Nick Guzman’s tear-inducing, disc-closing “Chasing Angels,” John Wicks’ golden tunes lend themselves to a variety of winning interpretations. A few pleasant surprises await the listener as well: Bill Berry contributes a hyped-up folk-pop reading of the hilarious “1-800-Colonoscopy,” while Wicks himself makes an emotionally charged appearance, singing his pop nugget “She’s All I Need.” It’s the centerpiece of a much-needed collection that serves as a reminder of how important John Wicks’ music was to his many friends and fans. Heartfelt liner notes from Wicks’ former songwriting partner Will Birch and Richard Rossi complete this essential package. Grade: A
Click on video below, for a sample song from the John Wicks compilation.