Jerry Engler:
A Whole Lotta Years, A Whole Lotta Music

Posted May 8, 2007 - by Alan Johns

Howdy Country friends,
Seldom does a song come along which stands head and shoulder above the rest. From recycled gibberish to sound-alike wannabees, our so- called popular music is fast becoming a morass of heterogenous muck. Did I say becoming? I put the blame squarely upon Menudo, Ed McMahon's "Star Search," and MTV's after-school hip-hop for dummies. [Do I dare include "American Idol?] Today's industry has become a stable of self-infatuated posers. "Industry" is as accurate a term as you could hope for. It suggests machinery and a product which is uniform and prettily-packaged, but often lacking real substance. Our music has become a culture of convenience: go to the store and pick up what the studios have decided you will buy. Consumer choice is relegated mainly to the end product, but almost never do consumers decide what is worthy of being published in the first place. What makes a #1 album these days? That is determined almost solely by the number of copies the retail stores commit to buy - NOT the end customer! We the people have become the butt of the music studio's biggest joke: We really WILL buy anything they are in the mood to sell.

Let's go back in time to the 1950's, when rock and roll was in its infancy. Even the founders of rock found it difficult to clearly define what rock and roll was. The style was new, exciting, and in a constant state of change. In retrospect, we now acknowledge some general defining attributes: a beat, a rhythm, unbounded enthusiasm, and something which was determined by and belonged to the youth of the day. It was the era of the "make it or break it" disk jockeys. The teens (the consumers) had the final word on what was heard and what was worthy of pressing into a few million copies. Then came payola ... but that's another story for another day.

Well, for listeners of distinction, I have a treat for you. Imagine if you will, an early rock'n'roller who briefly pings the charts, records a couple of unreleased tunes backed by another rocker named Buddy Holly, then mysteriously disappears for the next 40-something years. During those years this music man is busy growing songs in his home studio. ["Eddie and the Cruisers" comes to mind doesn't it?]

The story is real, and the man's name is Jerry Engler. Maybe you've never heard of him. I didn't until very recently. For a fact, I only bought his album because I collect 50's era rock and two previously unreleased tracks with Buddy Holly playing back-up were included. To my great delight, the entire album is something really special. The tunes say a lot about their creator: Jerry cultivated his talent. Musical growth is very much in evidence. Don't let that fool you... the early stuff is great too. He doesn't stick exclusively to a format, although the better part of the songs lean towards country. Good music is like that - it can be arranged for virtually any style or instrumentation. His music respectfully pays homage to the greatest musical influences of the past while remaining totally his own. Listening to his music, one easily imagines the shades of the great ones were in the same room jamming as he composed some very remarkable selections. There is great songwriting here.

If it has been awhile since you bought music because you feel that 99.9% of it sucks, be a champ and spend some spinach on the black horse. Your rider will come in first, and you'll grow a third arm with which to pat your own back. Exert your independence; buy American!

More info on the artist, cd, and sound samples by clicking this link:

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