Ken Gutberlet

Tommy Mullins

Maryland Music Monthly, July 1999

Well, what do Chewbacca, aliens from New Mexico, a granny that works at the piercing booth and models, bikinis, ducks in Amsterdam, bunny tail-chasing "spawning presidents", Ken, Barbie, and Rex Barney have in common? I'm still not really sure, however you can find all these things referenced within this unique release. Two parts slanted fun, and one part angular suburban self-discovery are what was used to make up the context on Status Quo.

The 18-track CD contains a variety of under four minute ditties, with an accompanying lyric/credits sheet that was thoughtfully designed to look like an old small newspaper with the lyrics as stories and song titles as headlines.

On "Roswell", Ken and his talented friends create a quirky musical circus about the harmless space visitors back in 1947. It was truly amusing, as was the tune "Great-Granny", about an adventurous 'made over' granny. Most of the music is acoustic based without a lot of clutter, and throughout features some rather good six string picking. The title track had a cool groovy feel that drew you into the opinionated (but truthful) lyrics. Often the lines were blurred between seemingly serious lyrics and an amusing presentation as with "For My Country". Here the mostly spoken monologue was dramatically stated (ala Capt. James T. Kirk) while smatterings of slide guitar held the musical tension. Lyrically, "White House Egg Roll" wis a real hoot with its traverse into Slick Willie's sexcapades. Sometimes the tunes were just downright odd. I mean, who writes songs anymore about factory recalls on automobiles? Well, needless to say there is one here aptly titled "Factory Recall". The final track "Rex" is a nice and neat tribute to the life's work and voice of the one and only Rex Barney. There were more serious moments as well, like "Loaded Gun", "Tragic Fall", and "RIP". On these selections a personal point of view uncovers things like the world around us, dealing with death, or with the cut "Ken and Barbie", the struggle of love and relationships.

I found this set to be refreshing even though some of the vocal passages and singing style at times lacked a little polish. However, it was the freshness of the material and/or the humor that assisted in winning me over in the end. If you like unique, slightly humorous, introspective, and often quirky tunes, then this release just might be your status quo.