The Mercy Seat

The Mercy Seat

by The Mercy Seat


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On the face of it, this is a punk band fronted by Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano doing covers of traditional gospel songs -- and it would be easy to write this album off as being such. The initial surprise of hearing "Let Me Ride" with a fast punk two-beat behind it can be jarring, not to mention the seemingly incompatible couplings of Von Hepinstall's husky alto voice and Gano's whiny, nasally voice in a call-and-response gospel rave-up. But given a listen for the group as it is and not a Gordon Gano side project -- and hearing these songs as songs in their own right and not gospel covers -- this is an excellent record. Truly, the whole band is amazing and shines with virtuosity. Bassist Patrice Moran features very prominently here, and her lines really help to preserve the gospel tone of the record. Gano and drummer Fernando Menendez push the music much more into the Dead Kennedys or Butthole Surfers end of the spectrum. Singer/bombshell Zena Von Heppinstall is the major creative force here, penning four of the songs and carrying the music with her fabulous voice. Highlights are "Don't Forget About Me," the bluesy "He Said," and the "Let the Church Roll On/I Won't Be Back" medley. The final cut on the record is a surprising Spanish-sounding number called "Mother Talking," which sounds more like a Violent Femmes (3 era) tune than anything else here. ~ Mark W. B. Allender

Product Details

Release Date: 06/09/2009
Label: Wounded Bird
UPC: 0664140560024
catalogNumber: 5600
Rank: 41956

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mercy Seat   Primary Artist
John Kruth   Flute
Gordon Gano   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Patrick Moran   Acoustic Guitar
Patrice Morris   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Zena von Heppinstall   Vocals
Mama   Tambourine
Fernando Menendez   Drums,Vocals,Shaker

Technical Credits

Mercy Seat   Producer,Audio Production
Cathy Dennis   Composer
Warren A. Bruleigh   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
James Herndon   Composer
Jeff Price   Art Direction
Rusty Cobb   Producer
Zena von Heppinstall   Composer
Raymond Patterson   Composer
McCoy   Composer
Ermint Franklin   Composer
James Herndon   Composer

Customer Reviews

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The Mercy Seat 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Boots_MacGuillicuddy More than 1 year ago
THE MERCY SEAT's self-titled 1987 release, their sole album, was one of my favorite cassettes in high school. It was a gospel/blues/punk hybrid project (don't call it Christian rock) featuring guitarist Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes and singer Zena Von Heppinstall. It was released originally in 1987 while the Femmes were on hiatus and out of print by 1988. I've tried for 22 years to find one of the excruciatingly few CDs that were produced originally. I almost bought a CD-R of a vinyl rip a few years ago. Wounded Bird Records has rereleased the album on CD (for the first time, they claim, though I remember seeing a CD in shops back in '87) and given it sparkling remastered audio. Seriously, the drum sounds, especially, are SO crisp and present. The music is so spontaneous and loose, you wouldn't expect the sound to be so pristine, especially when you're used to hearing it over a layer of audible tape hiss. But this is easily one of the cleanest, sharpest recordings I've ever heard. You're always afraid when you purchase a CD reissue you remember loving as a kid, but haven't heard in a long, long time, that the music has held up and is as good as you remember it. The day I got the CD in the mail was made doubly happy then when I realized (knowing more now about both punk rock and black gospel than I did at 17) that I may actually like the album more now than I did as teenager.