Philadelphia Weekly, February 20, 2002
- Vols. 1 & 2
(2002, Pandemonium Music)
Put Kenn Kweder's name next to cockroaches and Keith Richards on the "things that will survive a nuclear holocaust" list. The 'bard of South Street" has outlasted many of the rooms he's worked--the Bijou, the Chestnut Cabaret and the Main Point, to name a few--and just about every "next big" local band you can remember.
But at 50, Kweder's an astonishingly well-preserved fixture on the local rock scene, both physically and artistically, operating with as much hair and twisted songwriting genius as ever. And now, in the ultimate gesture of chutzpah or spring-cleaning, he's unleashed the three-CD, 55 track Kwederology, just in case you've wanted a copy of his duet with a Japanese reverend, his chastising of an unruly crowd at Walsh's or his classic "Heroin".
Spanning 27 years and multiple
backing bands (the Secret Kidds, the Employees, the Radio Church
of God and the Men From P.O.V.I.C.H.), Kwederology includes
live and studio tracks, interview snippets and (presumably)
recreational drug-induced prank phone calls to WXPN. Kweder's
oddball troubadour side is always a hoot, as evidenced by the
"Ballad of Manute Bol", his tribute to the former 76ers center.
Spread throughout the set are some Kweder's iconoclastic rockers
(imagine Jonathan Richman fronting the E Street Band)--his sprawling
1977 single "Suzy Said So" and the punchy Ben Vaughn-produced
gem "What Am I Talking About"--that make you wonder why the
major labels never took the bait. Maybe they knew they'd have
to foot the bill for a 3-CD retrospective someday.
- Patrick Berkery
Kenn Kweder/Indre Sessions
(1999, Pandemonium Music)
Around the Philadelphia music scene, singer/songwriter Kenn Kweder is the very definition of a local hero. A club fixture since the late '70s, he has built a loyal cult following based solely on a rich catalog of sophisticated, deceptively simple pop tunes. Truthfully, he deserves a lot more than that.
Kweder's seamless mix of Beatles-like melodies, Dylanesque lyrics and a uniquely warped romanticism has proven a remarkably enduring pleasure. His latest disc--which, like the title says, was recorded at South Philly's Indre Studios--drives this point home in track after track. An intimate, largely acoustic affair, Indre Sessions runs the gamut from bittersweet love songs ("Torn Rice," "The Girl With The Dylan Flowers") to darker meditations ("Pandemonium and the Scare," the epic "Diablo").
Singing in a thin, reedy
voice that falls somewhere between George Harrison's croon and
Alex Chilton's yelp, Kweder invests this material with a poignant
vulnerability that makes the connection between listener and
source that much deeper. Indeed, a line like "I wake up and
I think/ Am I growing extinct" (from the quietly determined
"Words and Dreams") is heartbreaking. But with material this
strong, perhaps Kweder won't have to worry about that much longer.
- Ramsay Pennypacker
Kweder makes the cut. Philadelphia Weekly lists Kwederology among
100 Best Philly Albums of all Time
When we decided to do this a few months ago, we were all enthusiasm and bright ideas. Excited by the city's musical legacy--which many people aren't even aware of--we thought we'd try to highlight some of the best moments and sounds in Philadelphia's cultural history. And what better way than a list? People love lists.
So we sent out an email that said, "We have decided to take on an almost insurmountable task: We're going to try to pick the 100 Best Philly Albums of All Time." At the time, we didn't know how insurmountable that task really was.
The email was sent to dozens of people--radio DJs and program directors, club DJs,music critics, record store owners, heads of major music-related organizations, musicians, promoters, booking agents, songwriters, website owners, zine makers and people who are simply obsessed with finding that one thing on vinyl they haven't been able to find for 15 years.
It was an interesting and motley group, and most wrote back with idiosyncratic lists. The only instruction was to limit selections to artists from Philadelphia or to albums that were recorded here. We were tempted to include some people--like Nina Simone--who were tenuously connected to the city. But we decided to be a little more stringent--in our own way. Dusty Springfield never lived in Philly, but the album we list here, A Brand New Me, was recorded in Philadelphia with Gamble and Huff, which gave it a distinctly Philly sound.
Some names were on every respondent's list: Coltrane, Bowie, the Roots, Dead Milkmen. Others were relative obscurities that showed up once or twice: Sweet Stavin Chain, for instance, or Good God.
The range led us to an important resolution: Rather than produce a definitive list, we decided to come up with a quirky assemblage. Our hope in creating this catalog is that you'll discover things you didn't know before, and return to things you may have forgotten.
Check out our honorable mentions box for those who almost made it. Maybe next year ... Oh, wait--there won't be a next year. I think we've learned our lesson. (Liz Spikol)
56. Kenn Kweder
Kwederology Volumes I and II | Pandemonium, 2002
Almost 30 years in the making, this three-disc set spans the prodigious career of Philly's old original scenester, the legendary Kenn Kweder. The set features classic Kweder album cuts--everything from "The Old Tan Datsun," "Heroin" and "Jack Kerouac" to "Turning Myself In," "Girl With the Dylan Flowers" and "The Ballad of Manute Bol"--plus rare live recordings, studio outtakes, bar fights and phone conversations. No Philadelphian should be without this collection.