Upwardly Ann-Kleined

If you're ever sitting cross-legged on the bed, staring into the darkest corner of the closet and contemplating the differences between a rock festival and a rock concert, here's a thought for you...Summer is a festive season because it has a lot of festi vals, right? A festival is a cultural event which helps define who we are, okay?

So, why is it that Carol Price Rabin's Complete Guide To Music Festivals In America covers Classical, Opera, Pops, Old-Time Fiddlers, Bluegrass, Jazz, Ragtime, Dixieland, Folk, Traditional, Country, Polka and Cajun festivals but not Rock? Well, she tells us, Rock festivals, "being of a rather transitory nature," are, like batteries, not included.

Mind you, it is not Rock itself which is considered transitory- Danny & the Juniors testified otherwise many years ago- but that for one or another reason, perhaps better pursued on the business end of the deal in books by folks like Marc Eliot or Bil l Knoedelseder, Rock resists a true solidity of tradition in the festival department. Perhaps, because Rock is thought to attract a younger crowd who have a slightly higher percentage of folks that haven't finished tailoring their Culture of Self and tend to become too festive for a festival, the music is feared and repressed in some communities, like Lee Marvin and Brando riding in on hogs. There was only one real dork in the crowd when Arlo Guthrie passed up his motorsickle for the bus he rode into Wood stock recently for a benefit concert and you couldn't say the clod was all that young. Just pathetically simple and self-absorbed.

So is a lot of Rock music, come to think of it, and Rock fans endure or make do with vast stretches of mediocrity between feasts. A fully engaged music reviewer can suffer an endless diet of Twinkees and overdone popcorn awaiting that occasional al bum which renews the juices but, when it comes, nothing can replace it. For all of its multiplicity of form, Rock is pretty simple stuff, really, as basic as a pulsebeat and, to those reared under its influence, sometimes almost as essential in moments wh en it casts the rhythmic fevers of its spell. Hmmm, warm in here, no? Ann Klein's Driving You Insane! is one of those albums you wait for to recharge those batteries left out by the Rabins as well-made but less inspiring stuff crawls the chart. A potent young talent maturing in three dimensions, Klein wrote or co-wrote ever ything here and co-produced, with Phillip Levine, a flashing river of Rock that'll have Rock guitar enthusiasts everywhere sighing, yeah, this is what it's all about.

From the opening drum groove of the title track, where Klein's guitar first teases in, the hooks are in the water. She wants to be lazy, reckless, a lot of things, but most of all, Klein wants to be driving you insane... Well, maybe she means it in a nice way...She does. The guitar break drives you to pleasant distraction over Steve Count's bass web, as it does over and over again as the mosaic unfolds. "Piece," in the horse race following, is a loaded weapon and Klein's six-string virtuosity spreads another feather in a peacock's tail. A languid lead overlays waa-waa funk on "Fun For The Rich," twisting a vicarious public contempt and fascination with just how filthy they are on the slopes of Switzerland, St.Moritz or Vale into an unspoken attitude of Rock as music of the people- naah, not just the Marxist people, fool, us!

"Simple Matter" is a slow, whispery prance tensing to pounce, as it does when Klein's guitar comes flying out of the pit for a high-stepping creep. Lust arrives with "Do Ya," as in "Nobody's watching/let me just get on top/I wanna do ya!" The blues-tinted "Peace In Mind" will flash unmossed 60s survivors back to Cream and Clapton just a stitch as the peacock bares yet more colors you have in your mind, oops, sorry, Bob, and spare, crafty production brightly coats any spot a trio might sound thin hanging on that glorious guitar.

Ann opens up the vocal throttle somewhat on "Rain" and cuts loose her licks again with "Silent Day, Silent Night" while the track progression ebbs, flows and builds with seamless calculation. An atmospherically odd lament to a friendship tainted by someone's junkie boyfriend is a swaying suspension bridge over Rich Mercurio's exquisitely plodding drumwork. The darkly majestic interplay of drum and voice on "Like A Flower" marks a standout taller than some of the others here; starkly effective.

"TV, Books, Movies & Magazines" contains another masterful production touch that spins you off to an outside space and snaps you elastically back without mussing your hair. "SWB" is the kind of touch-reality, what's-wrong-with-this-picture song beyond the usual sentimental love drool that slurps out of radios and the instrumental "This Love I Hate" sets us for a wisely anti-climatic closer, "Cowboy Poets," which lopes us toward sunset after a vigorous CD ride.

There are no throwaway tunes- just individually crafted pieces packaged with care, concern and intelligence. Throughout all, Ann Klein's strings illuminate like search beams, gripping you as few guitarists can and she shoots way up the list of preferred Rock guitars with this entry. Her playing is the liberally sprinkled chocolate nuggets in these cookies. If you love Rock guitar, you've gotta have this album. One place you can definitely find it is at her WDST/Tinker Street Cafe appearance on Thursday, July 25th [year?]. You can also check out her web-site at if you're so annkleined.

-Gary Alexander