Steve Lieberman: “The Gangsta Rabbi’s Quadrophenia” – captures bewildered rage and frustration
I’m a Steve Lieberman ‘The Gangsta Rabbi’ fan. Consider the fact that this is only the second release of Steve’s that I have heard, having just recently reviewed his “Terminator V617F” album. What attracts me to Steve Lieberman’s loud, aggressive and sometimes dissonant sound? Simple. I don’t just hear musical notes. I hear a man on a very personal musical mission. And this has nothing to do with the usual pitiful rhetoric concerning Steve’s terminal illness. Or maybe it has, in the sense that he is literally playing the crap out of his instruments with an explosive energy and sense of abandon like he was going to be living for another one thousand years on another planet somewhere in the galaxy!
“The Gangsta Rabbi’s Quadrophenia” contains 18 pieces of hardcore punk-metal, created to complete a story of a sound that has made its way through history. This sound is infectious. The assault of guitar and voice is without a doubt one of the strongest of modern American rock. I view ‘The Gangsta Rabbi’ as something of a Punk Rock anti-hero with the politics of an emotive soul. Why? He explores every emotion possible and then some – and the music stands right beside the words presenting each and every song as the continuing story of his life.
Steve Lieberman ‘The Gangsta Rabbi’ is pure genius amidst an ocean of corporate rock tradesmen, and “Quadrophenia” stands tall as an exception to the rule…any rule…every rule. Steve’s music has no rules. Its free, it’s wild, and as such reaches and crosses, borders and boundaries that our conventional mainstream ears find difficult to comprehend or follow. The original “Quadrophenia” recorded by The Who was about that awful period between being a teenager and being a real adult. And it captured that bewildered rage and frustration that goes with that whole stage of life. Songs like ‘The Real Me’, ‘The Punk and the Godfather’ and ‘Dr Jimmy’ boil with anger; others, such as the suicidal-tinged ‘Drowned’ (for my money the best song on here and one of the most beautiful melodies songwriter Pete Townshend ever came up with), and ‘Bell Boy’, the pathos. The story follows the early years of a young man, Jimmy, growing from adolescence to nearly killing himself due to his fall into the depths of depravity in the whirlwind world of the Mods and Rockers on the south coast of England in the early sixties
Steve sings, shouts and even screams if he has to. He has violent emotions and then tender insights, encapsulating the original, intended song emotions, but he extends and blows those sentiments into total outrage. And that’s the way this disc is: over-driven, overblown, guitar-induced punk-metal and highly emotive song crafting. Lieberman taps into the subconscious and makes music that simply blows the term ‘conventional’ away, by progressing from the raw aggression of “The Punk Meets The Godfather” to the sublime maturity of “Is It In My Head?”. Maturity is a word I select because it shows people being forced to deal with their problems instead of simply observing them. The Who dealt with theirs, Steve is dealing with his. What are you doing about yours?
There’s a lot to absorb on this record and it’s still well worth the effort to do so today. The writing approaches volatile subject matter thoughtfully, and with great insight. Steve Lieberman’s delivery is atypical, powerful and outrageously original. And without a doubt more anti-conformist and anti-establishment than The Who could ever possibly have imagined when they made “Quadrophenia’s” original musical and lyrical statement. And that’s really saying a lot!