Satchel - EDC
Record Label: Sony
Release Date: July 26, 1994
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the greatest living voice in rock music. His name is Shawn Smith and it's very possible you've never heard of his name before. When this album was released, it barely raised an eyebrow of interest in an age where Nirvana was just blowing up the mainstream. In retrospect EDC may not be as important as 'Nevermind' was, but in terms of quality, it towers over all other grunge like the masterpiece it is.
It's hard to pick out any particular influences, simply because Satchel are so adept at changing styles and moods. The chugging, driving "Taste It", which sees Smith using his full, falsetto range is immediately followed by the beautifully lilting "Trouble Come Down", which features just Smith, a piano and some electronic drums. The Reservoir Dogs samples weaving between the songs add an urban influence into the otherwise natural album, also giving the album its title of "EDC" ("Extremely Dangerous Criminals").
Whereas Smith's other bands Pigeonhed and Brad offer up a more funk-based style, Satchel posses an almost ethereal quality, mellow to the point where an almost dreamlike haze takes over the songs, the mysterious "O" wafting along on a lazy saxophone riff, carrying you off to a different place. Listening to songs like these, maybe it's no surprise that Regan Hagar was arrested for possession of marijuana. Bad boy!
Although "EDC" contains rock-based songs throughout its length, it's the slow-burning ballads that truly make the album so special. "Suffering" especially, is a song so beautiful it has been featured on many film soundtracks, good going for such a low profile band. My own personal favourite is "Willow". Starting with another Reservoir sample, it's where Shawn Smith finds his voice, the falsetto chorus sounding both mournful but somehow hopeful too.
In a time where grunge seems to have been consigned to musical history, Shawn Smith's legacy lives on through all of the music he makes. Brad may be of a higher profile, simply because of the presence of Stone Gossard, and Pigeonhed are of an even lower profile due to their loose, dancier grooves, but you get the impression that Satchel is Smith's most loved child. The one that gives him all of the best memories. Smith and Satchel's songwriting talent may have matured and been rounded off, but they will have trouble capturing the mysterious and captivating grooves of this. However, as with all things regarding Shawn Smith, you just never know.