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"Masque" Latest Kangaroo Court Collection

An album cover displays a woman with a gold mask and a feathered headdress.
Hal Shows
/used with permission

The Tallahassee group known as "Kangaroo Court" releases its latest record this week and the band's singer-songwriter-guitarist Hal Shows was happy to talk about it. First the title of the eleven-track collection - "Masque," spelled M-A-S-Q-U-E - is a nod to the quarantine time during which it was recorded. Although Shows was quick to stress the pandemic was not the prime inspiration for the songs.

"Well, it's all made during that time. I don't mean that all the songs aren't related to it. Probably the only song I wrote that's on the record that is kind of indicated by the plague is 'Lands' End,' the sea chanty."

Long-time Tallahasseeans may recall Hal Shows from his time in a post-punk band called "Persian Gulf," a regular fixture on the Tennessee Street Strip back in the 1980s. For the past couple of decades, he and drummer Mick Buchanan have recorded several albums under the name "Kangaroo Court." Shows says the idea of "Masque" was to recapture some of the rock 'n roll magic from earlier times.

"I didn't want to do a record that was layered like a cake. I wanted to do something more like a 'live' record."

Meaning, instead of perfectly tuned vocals and lots of overdubs, a record where an actual band played together while the tape rolled, without sounding like an oldies radio station.

"I wanted it to sound contemporary, but I definitely wanted that old kind of feel to it. And I don't know anybody who's recorded in mono in a long time."

"Mono" as in both right and left channels of the record carrying the very same signal.

"I just like that attack out of the speaker where you're getting the same thing out of both speakers."

Resulting in considerably more slam than traditional stereo recording. But Shows says he and Buchanan - along with a long roster of other musicians - were also going for classically authentic performances. Take the track entitled, "That's All Elvis Said."

Shows recalled the reaction when the album's producer, Mike Phillips played it for a relative.

"His grandmother in Alabama listened to it and said, 'That's that old boogie-woogie!'"

And those who love on-the-scenes recordings, have got to hear the 11th and final track on "Masque," which is entitled "Busking."

"I recorded that live the last time I was in Italy, in Florence. I did it on a cellphone. The guy must have been 70 years old, and he was busking on the street and I thought, 'God! There go I!'"

"Masque," the latest album by Tallahassee's own Kangaroo Court is available on Amazon.

"Or you can get it at Band Camp, which mostly sells downloads until we figure some other stuff out. We're going to do some vinyl on this, too. I think this would make a great vinyl record."

After all, vinyl records are the hottest "new" thing in music playback nowadays.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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