Walt Mink – Colossus (Deep Elm, 1997)

It is fitting that the quintessential “rock” album of 1997 is also the swan song for Walt Mink. While it could be argued that regular ol’ rock is still going strong in the form of mainstream bands like Pearl Jam and the throngs of “alternative” bands, few, if any, of those records will stand the test of time in my book. Or at least on my web page! Those who bother to look at my lists all the way back to 1965 will see that I hold much classic rock in high regard. But somewhere along the line, classic rock became crap. Since the 80s, t is rare that I would rank an album that is not very genre-bending or groundbreaking so highly. While Walt Mink may stylistically have more in common with the Meat Puppets and the Flaming Lips, I hereby stamp Colossus with the official Uncle Fester classic album status. With the sublime balance of gorgeous acoustic numbers and rockers, this is Walt Mink’s Led Zeppelin III. Only better. Tons of influences have been attributed to this band, from Jimi Hendrix and Cream to early Z.Z. Top and Elvis Costello. Yet John Kimbrough writes songs that always sound fresh and memorable. And if that’s not enough, let’s talk about musicianship. Walt Mink never failed to be a live experience to behold. Candice was a bass prodigy, setting out fat, Bootsy-worthy notes just a year after first picking up the instrument. Joey, son of Lenny Waronker the famous 70s producer was raised in the studio by a parade of famous drum gurus to become an encyclopedia of rhythm. John is a guitar fan’s wet dream. At shows, people who play guitar themselves and can appreciate how he makes impossible things look easy, would stand in front with their mouths agape while the crowd behind shook its collective booty. I was fortunate enough to go the the same college as these people and have great memories of many a sweaty basement show. I was certain they would become rock stars. But after nearly a decade of poor business decisions (see Caroline, Columbia and Atlantic) and bad luck (on the eve of recording their third album, Joey abandoned them to become Beck’s drummer), Walt Mink have split up, seemingly only a minor footnote in rock history. Fortunately, they have the small but feisty label support of Deep Elm
to valiently push their back catalog (including a CD of their last show and their early demos) onto anyone who cares to listen. For your own musical well-being, check it out.

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