Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kevin Dunn's No Great Lost

Jacksonville native, Kevin Dunn is one of the bigger names to come out of this city's music scene and yet barely anyone around this town knows who he is. Born here in 1951 he spent years wondering around Florida and Georgia with his family returning to the First Coast several times before eventually calling Atlanta home as an adult. It was at that time that his musical career began to take shape and over the course of six years Dunn would become an influential figure on the southern new wave scene. Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer, Dunn would not only put together a solo effort and his own band, The Fans, he would go on to help several bands find fame and fortune. In fact, he's the man that recorded early efforts by Pylon and the B52's and can credit "Rock Lobster," as his baby.

As for his own musical career, he released his first single in 1976 with the Fans and then later released his own solo single in 1979 to acclaim in magazines like NME and Interview. From there he would release a debut album and several more singles and another album. As per the usual, over course of time, those singles and albums would disappear and go out of print and remain there. Until now. Thanks to the fine folks at Casa Nueva Industries, Kevin Dunn's body of work from 1979-85 is being made available again for the first time in over twenty years. No Great Lost, Songs 1979-1985 is an anthology of one of the souths' most influential and important southern musicians ever and features some darn fine snotty, angular post punk.

Consisting of his, The Judgement of Paris album from 1981, C'est toujours la meme guitare single from 1983, Tanzfeld from 1985, and the Fans' Cars and Explosions single from 1979, No Great Lost, Songs 1979-1985paints a picture of a producer and musician who was so on the pulse of the scene at the time, that he should have been certifiably huge. It's not everyday someone from the south appears in the pages of the NME and here was Dunn not only in NME but almost receiving Single of th Week. Then when you look at the fact that this guy was part of the B52's career and you can't help but think that Mr. Dunn was one heck of a musician/producer. In listening to No Great Lost that's only reaffirmed. With off key rhythms, slashing guitars, jangly riffs, broken basslines, and early synthesizer swashes much of this album hits you at right angles with a protractor. It's angular, odd, and at times nearly atonal but it's those wipeouts and strange sounds which shows Dunn on top of his game. No Great Lost is filled with so much fantastic post punk that it's almost impossible to keep track of and to be honest, I loved every minute of it.

Dunn sounds like a dirty punk who attacks his songs with veracity and a thought process that seemed to function on the principle that if it worked it should be broken and then reassembled so that it didn't. His engaging tunes still have a sense of pop to them, but it's skewed and altered so that the songs sound uniquely Dunn's. When you think of the fact that the songs making up No Great Lost were coming out of Atlanta in the early 80's it's truly an amazing feat. Think about it, it was the south, after all, in the early 80's when bands like Skynrd, Molly Hatchet, and 38 special were the cream of the crop; heck, even REM was just a thought at that point. Dunn clearly had more in common with his British co-horts across the pond and it's no wonder that the press over there loved his work. The guy was(and still is) a true talent that was never fully appreciated for what he accomplished as a producer and what he recorded as a musician and it would seem only right and fair that No Great Lost help him achieve the fame that he rightly deserved.

No Great Lost is an essential piece of Florida/Georgia music history and if you consider yourself a fan of local music then this is pretty important stuff. He may not have recorded here, but Kevin Dunn helped put the Atlanta/Athens scene on the map and with his own work he helped post punk gain ground in the classic rock (that wasn't so classic rock back then) South. No Great Lost is a fitting tribute to one of post punks greatest poets and producers and for that reason alone it's a collection worth having. Fantastic stuff indeed.

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