Friday, September 21, 2012

Country Music For Fat, Unpopular People

Meade Skelton is an outsider musician from Richmond, Virginia whose album  "They Can't Keep Me Down" mostly deals with his struggles with weight, and how no-one likes him, e.g.: "I Love To Eat (And It Shows)" and "It's Hard To Love Yourself (When Everybody Hates You)". He feels left out of the music world, loves mom and God, and doesn't like sleazy, degenerate rock 'n' rollers or too-cool hipsters (e.g.: the song "Proud To Be A Square").  His lightweight electric piano-driven songs lean towards the slick, commercial side of country music, and when he stays within his vocal range, he actually has an okay voice, tho hardly worthy of his own Elvis and Sinatra comparisons. Trouble is, he doesn't always stick to his range.

This album, so I'm told, is strongly influenced by Laura Branigan, of all people. Remember her, she did that "Gloria, I think they got your number" song?  Supposedly "Beautiful Lady" is a reworking of Branigan's "Solitaire," adding new lyrics about (of course) being fat and unwanted. 

There is some weak singing here and the songwriting occasionally gets terrible indeed, so it's easy to laugh at this guy, but there is also pathos in "They Called Me Porker," about the taunting he endured as a child. And some pretty smooth session musicians keep it all sounding almost respectable.

On "Songs of Love" he goes lounge - it's an album of mostly amateurish covers of standards, e.g.: "My Funny Valentine," but includes some originals, like the stalker-ish ode to actress Nicole Kidman, "Nicole, Will You Marry Me?" Wow, is this one a head-scratcher. Kidman may want to consider a restraining order. An unnerving yodel/voice-cracking vocal style pervades this album, and the stripped-down production reveals his uncertain piano playing. Oh, my ears! If "They Can't Keep Me Down" has you feeling sorry for the poor sap, "Songs of Love" will make you want to join the haters.

Skelton has gained somewhat of a reputation on the internets thru his relentless self-promotion, often going by other names, claiming on message boards to be a "fan" of Skelton with a "need for Meade!" when it's pretty obvious that it's Skelton himself. Some are annoyed by this behaviour, others amused. But that's what's great about him - he has unwavering faith in his talent, and maintains an upbeat attitude towards life. No whiney goth or sensitive singer-songwriter stuff for Meade - despite the unfortunate circumstances of his life, he keeps a grin on his face.

He has some albums that he's selling independently, and since they're in print, I'm only gonna take a couple/few songs apiece from these two abums (the only two of his that I have).

Mead Skelton Sampler

1. Beautiful Lady
2. What's So Great About Rock N' Roll?
3. Your Old Hay
4. Nicole, Will You Marry Me?
5. My Funny Valentine

Want to hear more? 'Course you do!  Preview his albums on iTunes. And join the Mead Skelton Fan Club while you're at it! 2215 Floyd Ave., Richmond, VA 23220; (804) 359-0219.

UPDATE 9/24/12: We heard from the man himself: Meade would like you to know that he has a new album, likes and is influenced by Laura Branigan but not on this particular album, and does not go around spamming boards under assumed names. So there. I stand corrected.

From one of his other albums, here's the "hit" single, "Hipsters Ruin Everything":


Anonymous said...

Nice stuff, thanks for keeping it unreal.
Wondered if you might have any Armand Shaubroeck?
I've got "Ratfucker" and i love it, but can't find anything else by him on the web.
Thanx in advance.
Carrie Awn x

Mr Fab said...

I think that's the only album of his that I have, too, but I'll check my archives. I've always wanted to hear that 3 record concept album he made.

Meade Skelton Haufe said...

Hello, thanks for the review of two very old Meade Skelton albums. I do hope you realize these albums were released nearly 10 years ago? I do have a new album out called "Meade Music" I do believe my singing voice and songwriting have improved quite a bit since I was first starting out. I hope you might be able to check out my latest record. Thanks!

Meade Skelton Haufe said...

Hello, thanks for a nice review of two very very old Meade Skelton albums. You do realize , however, that these albums are not current? I have a very new record out called "Meade Music" I hope you can check it out. My songwriting and voice and have improved a great deal since those early releases, and were also recorded with much better fidelity. I am not sure why you chose to review such albums that are old do not reflect well my current sound and style, but thanks for a great effort!
Musically Yours,
Meade Skelton

Mr Fab said...

Hey Meade, great to hear from you! I had no idea that those albums were so old, I only just discovered them. Cant wait to get your new one, but I hope its not TOO professional! What we love around is here your sincerity. It takes courage to sing with such honesty about the issues you deal with. i think thats your beef with the hipsters and rock n rollers - theyre too concerned with being 'cool' instead of telling it like it is.

Anonymous said...

Meade has a fake "Gone with the Wind" accent

Jane said...

Meade Skelton has an amazing voice and talent. I don't agree with anything in your "review" at all.

Unknown said...

Its a shame that Meade's earlier work did not reflect him well. His first album "Songs By Meade Skelton" was actually solid, and very good. The subsequent albums were sub-par. Only until recently with his latest "Meade Music", with the title track "Sweet Tea", has he re-branded himself.

Having heard some of his live work, he is actually a rather good piano player, and has a good (not great) voice- but a voice that is pretty compelling at times- when he stays within his range. He has improved. So readers may gleam from this review that he is limited. But I hope they will open their minds more.