August 30, 2016 11:36 PM   Subscribe

Kevin Gilbert gives us the 1995 track Waiting, a song based on or in tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem I Am Waiting (a truncated version performed by him here with jazz background) [revised text from A Coney Island Of The Mind].

Kevin Gilbert was a songwriter who might be best known for his collaboration with Patrick Leonard, who co-wrote a lot of early Madonna hits up until that relationship broke, working under the moniker Toy Matinee. (It's rumored that their song Queen Of Misery is about Madonna and is what ended that fruitful collaboration.) They had one hit with Last Plane Out, off their only album together. He was instrumental in creating Sheryl Crow's first album Tuesday Night Music Club, as were the members of lesser known 80s duo David + David. Gilbert's career was cut short by his untimely death at age 29. The only album he released under his own name during his lifetime was "thud", from which this track is taken.
posted by hippybear (10 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. I haven't thought of Kevin Gilbert in a couple of years, but for a long time he was this omnipresent ghost in my life. I knew of him while he was still alive, because we shared a lot of friends and a few musical collaborators, but never actually met him.

I was in a band that shared the bill with his (and Brian MacLeod's) band Kaviar (my favorite of his musical projects. I have the demos, I'm sure they're on the web somewhere.) a dozen or so times - but only after he passed. I later had a couple of co-workers who were in his inner circle, and were crushed by his loss. Luckily, they were also traders and collectors who had tons of demos and unreleased tracks from Kevin.

He was a genius who could play every instrument better than anyone should be able to, and had a great voice. It completely puzzled me that I could appreciate the brilliance of his songwriting, but just couldn't love most of his songs. I wrote it off to a generational thing. It always sounded a little to "80s" to me - which makes sense, because he's almost 10 years older than me.

I do strongly recommend seeking out the Kaviar tracks and his final release, "The Shaming of the True". It's a rock opera-style concept album, strongly influenced by Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", which Kevin had been covering live - in its entirety - in the year leading up to his last album.

So many memories flooding back. So many amazing stories about him, told by witnesses. I won't spread gossip, but I will try to see if the demos and unreleased stuff I have is available on the web anywhere...
posted by Anoplura at 12:11 AM on August 31, 2016 [6 favorites]

Hmm... Looks like most of the stuff I'm aware of is now available for sale (on CD!) at kevingilbert.com, and is also on youtube. Search for "Kevin Gilbert" or "Kevin Gilbert Kaviar". Good stuff. Not so underground anymore.
posted by Anoplura at 12:21 AM on August 31, 2016

It shouldn't puzzle you. There's a small gang of musicians in Kevin's vein who write amazing pop songs that just have Something missing. They're gorgeous, well recorded, technically brilliant, excellent musicianship...but without that je me sais quoi.

Shaming of the True is an excellent example. Everything is gorgeous, it just doesn't resonate. It's like a formula of a great album was plugged in instead of something having inspired him to make a great album.

Obviously this all sounds like I dislike him, I don't. I love a bunch of his stuff,but for years I've listened to it thinking "why did he do THAT when everything else is perfect?"
posted by nevercalm at 4:44 AM on August 31, 2016

Thanks for this, hippybear. Ferlinghetti's poems are favorites of mine and this puts a whole new spin on them.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:33 AM on August 31, 2016

Unsung hero of prog-pop, driven to suicide by Sheryl Crow's wholesale theft of his songs.... especially brilliant are "Sultan of Brunei" and his live cover of Zep's "Kashmir"
posted by ergomatic at 7:34 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

My (newfound) interest in the Gilbert/Crow thing got me Googling and I found this, which helped me catch up on the bad blood between them.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:41 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Toy Matinee is always my go-to for grossly underrated '90s bands. Every track on that album still stands up.
posted by emelenjr at 11:02 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I still listen to Toy Matinee regularly, and some of KGs later weirder stuff.

Queen of Misery
, Live at the Roxy in 91
(actually looks like the video is from the Roxy and the audio is taken from a different show but syncs perfectly because they played so consistently)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:20 PM on August 31, 2016

I oddly have a 5.1 surround mix of the Toy Matinee album, which is one of the stranger things to own. Good mix, though.
posted by hippybear at 11:48 PM on August 31, 2016

I did a KG post a few years ago - huge fan. The estate has done a good (if not confoundingly slow) job of keeping his stuff in print & re-issuing remasters & spiffed up versions of demos & such. The Nuts & Bolts collection are worth grabbing for true fans, but seriously , Kaviar is on of the 10 great unknown albums of all time. It's the musical equivalent of DFW's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, and it is magnificent.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:26 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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