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Music Review: Ivan Julian – The Naked Flame

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Ivan Julian has traveled a long musical journey, which has resulted in his finally releasing a solo album this year.

His career began modestly at the age of 13, as the singer in a Led Zeppelin cover band. At the age of 17, he was in England as a part of The Foundations, who are best remembered for their single hit, “Build Me A Buttercup.”

Julian’s breakthrough came as a founding member of Richard Hell & The Voidoids. His bandmates were the legendary Richard Hell, guitarist Robert Quine, and drummer Marc Bell. It was one of the first popular hardcore punk/rock bands, and it proved to be a songwriting, playing, and concert training ground for Julian. He was a major contributor to their classic album, Blank Generation.

When the Voidoids folded for the first time, Ivan Julian formed The Outsets, where he assumed the main vocal and songwriting duties. He began experimenting with different styles of music, including straight rock, funk, and African rhythms. He next moved on to The Lovelies with Bush Tetras singer Cynthia Sley. They produced the excellent Mad Orphan album during 1988.

He has always been an in demand guitarist and has worked with the likes of Matthew Sweet, Afrika Bambaataa, Bernie Worrell of Parliament/Funkadelic, and The Clash.

His first solo album began when he mixed Rising Mountains for the Spain-based Argentine indie band, Capsula. The group urged him to create his own album and offered to be his backing band on a proposed Spanish tour. He gathered former Outsets drummer Vinnie DeNunzio, former Lovelies member Al Maddy, the three members of Capsula, plus a few friends, and went into the studio. The result was the just released The Naked Flame.

He continues experimenting with different types of music on this release. He channels the spirit of Jimi Hendrix on the title song, and “The Funky Beat In Siamese” goes in the obvious direction that the title suggests. “You Is Dead,” which is a tribute to the passing of his former bandmate Robert Quine, is a nice acoustic blues piece. He also performs a haunting cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Broken Butterflies.”

Ivan Julian has released his own album at last—officially on March 29—and hopefully it will initiate another phase of his career. It contains excellent songwriting, crisp playing, and solid production. It is the culmination of a 42-year journey, which will hopefully continue well into the future.

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