Lost Art Bergmann (Bearwood Music)
Old-school fans have been curious about hearing the demos for Crawl With Me since that album—Art Bergmann’s major-label debut as a solo artist, on Duke Street Records—came out to mediocre reviews in 1988. Talk was that John Cale had substantially misunderstood Bergmann’s songs, producing an overcooked, curiously dead artifact that failed to please Bergmann devotees or win new ones. The demos were supposed to be much, much better.
As the new Lost Art Bergmann CD demonstrates, they are. “Inside Your Love,” “Final Cliché,” and “My Empty House” capture Bergmann’s smoke-scorched intensity and the band’s cohesiveness in a way that the Crawl With Me versions simply don’t. Those horrible la-la-la backing vocals on the dark, incest-themed semi-hit “Our Little Secret” actually work when it’s the band singing them. And even though “The Junkie Don’t Care” is probably the wrong song to lead Lost Art—the intro is mired in ’80s clichés—it’s clearly superior to its rushed, unconvincing (if more polished) Duke Street analog.
Lost Art Bergmann is slight (a mere 10 songs mixed by Bob Rock, four of which were produced for a limited 1980s cassette), and has the occasional imperfections one expects from demos. But it scratches a niggling itch in a satisfying way, and should give Bergmann noobs a good idea why the man is a Vancouver legend.