Photo Credit: J. DiConti 2014
Pete Berwick’s new release features 13 new songs. Now, 13 is considered by many to be an unlucky number. Then again I’ve heard people say “lucky 13”, so it all depends on how you look at it. The Legend of Tyler Doohan is the debut collaboration between Pete Berwick and Little Class Records. It is also the sixth album by Berwick. The other five albums were self-released and I think self-produced. The title track starts out the disc and is a no holds barred rocker by Berwick. It tells the true story of nine year old Tyler Doohan who was growing up in a rough and tumble world. Tyler had been in and out of several different schools over the years. The fourth grader became a hero when he saved the lives of six, of nine, people who were living in his grandfather’s overcrowded mobile home. Returning to the burning trailer to get his grandpa and disabled uncle he was overcome by smoke and died in the fire with the two men. The story gets the full Pete Berwick treatment. His vocals sound like he chews the glass when he drinks his beer and forces it all down in a big gulp. His growl adds an undisguised sadness to the song as he sings “too damn young to die a man, this is the legend of Tyler Doohan.” Somewhat surprisingly to me, Colby Walters’s mandolin adds a little extra bite to the tune. The mandolin drives home the sadness of not only the death of Tyler Doohan but also of his life. The Proof Is In The Whiskey was co-written by Joe Kent. There are times when too much alcohol can cause problems. Sometimes you realize it, sometimes you don’t. In the end there is always proof. “There’s a trail of broken glass, lies scattered from the past, The shattered hearts, the broken dreams, the promises I trashed, So if justice ever finds me, and throws away the key, because the fifth I plead, The proof is in the whiskey.” When you think of Pete Berwick being a leather wearing, PBR guzzling, dope smoking, whiskey slamming punk rocker, it’s hard to imagine a chick being too wild for him. Then you realize that Pete, like the rest of us, is getting older. He might still drink PBR, whiskey even take a toke now and then but for the most part his “wild days” are slowly winding down. She’s Too Wild For Me is a funny romp through the life of a chick who has done it all. Also a reminder of that chick you remember, but sometimes wish you could forget. “Scratch my back, until I bled…she climb on top, ‘n’ ride you ‘til your dead…Got Alligator pants and cocaine eyes…spent some time in jail back in ’89. She’s too wild for me.” In different places throughout the land you can have good times and you can have bad times. The good times leave you with a smile on your face, the bad times make you sing songs like Ain’t Going Back To Memphis. You can only imagine what made Berwick write “Ridin’ down the road I’m hearin’ guitars out of tune, a woman’s back in Memphis howlin’ at the moon, If I had kept my big mouth shut, I guess I’d still be there, But another drink and I won’t even care, And there’s one more gone, ridin’ into the settin’ sun, just another lonely heart out on the road, I can’t see no stars, I can’t see that far, I Ain’t going’ back to Memphis anymore.” The road can be a very hard place, especially when life seem to be falling apart around you and you’re just waiting for Checkout Time. “Staying in a cheap motel, somewhere between LaSalle and hell, They cancelled me in St. Louis, now I ain’t got a pot to piss in, The TV’s on, there’s nothing on, Missing you a lot, But I lost my way and lost your love, I lost faith in God, These old lonely walls know everything I got, and there’s just two more hours to checkout time and that’s all that’s left of everything I got.” There is another “motel” song on the disc. The second one is my personal favorite song on the disc, Keep Your Socks On And Don’t Look Down, is a hilarious story about a motel that may be a little past it’s prime. “Keep your socks on and don’t look down, lord knows what’s on that ground, A word to the wise, keep your eyes on the prize, You get a much better feeling staring at the ceiling, There’s a cockroach in the sink, something died in this room, I think. Thirty years ago that carpet wasn’t brown, Keep your socks on and don’t look down.” There are times when relationship questions pop into your mind. Questions like “How did I get so lucky?”, “What does she see in me?” or “What the hell is she doing wasting her time with me?” Are You Sure I’m What You Want is the one Berwick asks in his song. “I’m not trying to save the world, I tell you girl I can’t even save myself, I don’t have a master plan like some guys do, maybe someday, ‘til then I ain’t got a clue, So open up your eyes, not too late to realize, there’s someone good for you, but it ain’t me.” Another one of my favorite songs is See You In Hell. In this song Berwick admits that he, like the rest of us, is a sinner. He makes no excuses, he doesn’t plan on changing his ways and he accepts his fate. “Bridges burned are bridges burned, ‘bove water ‘neath the bridge, Let bygones be all things that pass, like Jesus just forgives, We’re all wretched sinners, lord knows we owe a debt, You can’t outrun the devil and God never forgets, Live let live, let dead dogs lie. I’ve seen ghost riders in the sky, Damnation or salvation is always near, see you in hell, I’ll bring the beer.”
The Legend of Tyler Doohan is a solid effort from Pete Berwick. Colby Walters did some nice work on mandolin on a couple songs and Billy Beale added much to the feeling of Small Town Blues with his Dobro. In the future, if Berwick and Little Class Records work together again, please let Pete produce his own albums. There are a couple songs that seemed over-produced to me. Sometimes you don’t need those extra background singers. Remember these are only my opinions. Overall though this is a release worth owning.