GREEN ON RED No Free Lunch (1985) & The Killer Inside Me (1987) cd 1992
Time Ain't Nothing° / Honest Man° / Ballad of Guy Fawkes° / No Free Lunch° / Funny How Time Slips Away° / Keep on Moving° / Jimmy Boy° / Smokestack Lightning° / No Drinkin'* / Broken* / Don't Shine Your light On Me* / While The Widow Weeps* / Clarkesville* / Mighty Gun* / Jamie* / Whispering Wind* / Ghost Hand* / Sorry Naomi* / No Man's Land* / Track You Down (His Master's Voice)* / Born To Fight* / We Ain't Free* / Killer Inside Me*.
Produced by D. Stuart° & J. Dickinson*.
Green On Red: C. Prophet IV: guitars / D. Stuart: vocals / C. Cacavas: keyboards / J. Waterson: bass / A. MacNicol° & K. Mitchell*: percussion.
The critical hosannas lavished upon the album "Gas Food Lodging" earned Green on Red a major-label deal, though, with appropriate irony, this very American band found themselves contracted to the British branch of Polygram. The label's American imprint, Mercury, picked up their option several months after the group's big-label debut, "No Free Lunch", was released in the U.K. An EP running a bit under 24 minutes (the tape & a later reissue padded it out to full length with a 13-minute blues workout on "Smokestack Lightning"), "No Free Lunch" covers territory not dissimilar to that on "Gas Food Lodging"; nomadic musicians on the road ("Keep on Moving" and the title cut), out-of-work sad sacks ("Honest Man"), families confronted with death and loss ("Jimmy Boy"), and the struggle to believe in something despite it all ("Time Ain't Nothing"). The band even throws in a pretty good cover of "Funny How Time Slips Away," and their performances are noticeably tighter and sharper than on their previous albums (the time on the road after "Gas Food Lodging" seems to have paid off), while the engineering by Steven Street and Simon Humphries is crisper and better detailed than the sometimes muddy tone of "Gas Food Lodging". But while the band sounds game, the songs are good, and Dan Stuart is in unusually strong voice (with the exception of "The Ballad of Guy Fawkes," where he lapses into a curious fake Brit accent, perhaps in tribute to his new corporate sponsors), at only seven songs "No Free Lunch" seems oddly incomplete, sounding less like a self-contained short work than an album that somehow didn't get finished. There's nothing wrong with what's here, but it's hard not to wish the band had made more of it at the time. Allmusic
After the creative breakthrough of "Gas Food Lodging" and the surprising discovery that they responded well to a touch of production polish on "No Free Lunch", Green on Red seemed poised to move on to new heights, both artistically and commercially, with their first full-length for a major label, "The Killer Inside Me". Jim Dickinson, noted R&B pianist and studio helpmate to such expressive eccentrics as Alex Chilton and Paul Westerberg, was tapped to produce, but while the pairing looked great on paper, the results sounded just a bit muddy and cluttered, lacking the tense clarity of "No Free Lunch" and the more organic sloppiness of "Gas Food Lodging". While the musicians are a bit better focused here than on their earlier recordings, the overly boomy audio does little to flatter this band's newfound precision. As a singer, Dan Stuart long had a tendency toward sloppy histrionics when he wasn't held in check, and here Dickinson seemed content to let Stuart's performances go wherever they will, and with a chorus of far more gifted soul singers offering backup, his craggy tone and faux-wino bellowing have rarely sounded more obvious or less effective. Most importantly of all, "The Killer Inside Me" lacks material on a par with the two released that preceded it, and while Dan Stuart is too gifted a tunesmith to not come up with a few songs worth hearing (most notably "Mighty Gun," "We Ain't Free," and the title cut), many of these songs sounds like retreads of ideas Green on Red tackled more effectively in the past, and the album's darker tone often feels forced, without the faint hope of redemption that made "Gas Food Lodging" so powerful.
While "The Killer Inside Me" isn't Green on Red's weakest album, it didn't live up to nearly anyone's expectations, and suggested this band's moment of glory might have been starting to fade away. Allmusic
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