Nearly Human

Review by Jerry Caldwell (Switch to

Time's almost running out for NH discussion, so before I begin my Christmas shopping, here's my 2 cents worth.

Nearly Human (aren't we all) is a clever title for an album of flawed, in one way or another, characters. I believe this is Todd's most marketable release since "S/A?". Great songs, great production, great vocals, and great ensemble. Todd can't go wrong with the likes of Clarence Clemons, Roger Powell, Prairie Prince, Shandi Sinnimon, Norman Smart, Bobby Strickland, Kasim Sulton, Tarry Tagg, Michael Urbano, Willie Wilcox, Lyle Workman with him. Not to mention Michele Gray and the Dick Bright Strings.

Great song to start. Sets the tone of a sleekly produced, solid, vocal-driven album. This song has that "live to tape" feel Todd perfected on Second Wind.

Can you say pop? Bet Todd wrote this one in his sleep. Of course, it's a zillion times better than I'll ever write awake! Did I once read that it was either written to be used on a soap opera, or that it debuted on a soap? The lyrics sound like a soap opera, but I may just be very confused. (And check the sound of the line, "But we live in different galaxies. " Sounds a little like Todd's theme to "Aliens In The Family")

Enough has already been written about this song's meaning to our personal experiences. Yeah, it strikes a chord with me too. It works as one of Todd's many emotional band-aids he has given us over the years. Personal feelings aside, this song ranks right up there with "Hello, It's Me", as one of Todd's most memorable songs. It could be subtitled, "Hey, you over there, hello, it's me, over here. ) I can see Todd playing this one in a lot of concerts well into his, and our, old age. (Wonder what the swing version will sound like?) And what a great line he ends this stanza with:
"So I send you the gift of empathy
If you'd once in your life acknowledge me
I have visualized so thoroughly
that when I think of me I think of we"
Without a doubt, one of his best lines. So simple, so odd, so packed with emotion. And so many damn bells ringing. Is that his cue to us, or was there just a bell going off in his head? The videotape version on "Live in Japan" is wonderfully packed with classic Todd sign language, especially on the line, "I know that the world is full of opposites that attract." If you don't have the video, get it, it is as good on every NH song, and better on some.

(sorry guys, last time I commented on a cover by Todd I got flamed so badly my ass is still burning)

What a nice solid beat this song starts with. Kinda clock-like thorough the first half. Steady, not too fast, just persistently beating along. Then, after a "Hawking"-like fall into the arms of his god, it's double-time running to the end, with a brief nod at 4 minutes in to his Utopian past-- "feet don't fail my now."

Great singing, passionate guitar playing by Todd, especially on the videotape version. Again Todd shows off his economy of words in expressing himself-- "His fist, your face, you kiss the ground".

Great production on this song, though as a "love song" I prefer the message in "Parallel Lines". (still, with this song, Todd's right, I just hate admitting it)

Again, nothing like a solid rythym section to get things going. Love those "Dick Bright Strings"! And thank godd Todd added a lot of brass to this album. I also really like the vocal phrasing on this song, also well as that great sax.

Without a doubt, the most passionate song ever written and performed by Todd, though recently rivalled by his live version of "Beloved Infidel". Todd seems to really connect emotionally with Stephen Hawking's frustrated attempts to communicate radical, yet simple and pure ideas. And again, great sax solo, and in this case, just like the lyrics say, "dreaming"... very dreamy sax.

Good-bye "Just One Victory", hello "I Love My Life". Todd's new encore, and it really works to get the crowd up and going and then just completely drains them. Like "Parallel Lines" and "Unloved Children", if you haven't heard and seen the Live in Japan videotape version, or ANY live version, you really haven't heard this song. And is it a "funny love thing" or a "funky love thang"?

That's just some thoughts as I head out the door for a chilly Christmas parade at the oceanfront. Got my tickets for St. Pete and Orlando, and am feeling warmer by the day.



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