CAKE, Motorcade of Generosity

Yancey Strickler

By Yancey Strickler

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Released into the modern-rock wilderness of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Nirvana in 1994, Motorcade of Generosity was an amazingly ill-timed record, a light, loose and flirtatious collection of tough-to-classify songs that, in other eras, might have been pegged as swing, ska, Balkan pop, new wave, country or even bossa nova. The album did spawn one minor hit, "Rock 'n 'Roll Lifestyle," a goofy indictment of rock excess (had the Sex Pistols written and released it, it would have fit into the punk narrative nicely), a spawn of Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good." Overall, though, the album — way too passive and intellectual for its day — was ignored, despite the fact that it's one of the strongest rock albums of the '90s.

One of the strongest rock albums of the ’90s gets reissued.

Singer John McCrea's monotone and guitarist Greg Brown's clean guitar strokes play the signature parts in Cake's sound, both playful, never serious, their tonal oppositions often harmonizing. Lyrically, McCrea favors the oblique and witty (see later hits "The Distance," "Short Skirt/Long Jacket") and here we get the opening "Comanche" and the lovely "Pentagram," a Nashville-style ditty about Satanic sacrifice ("your feet are dry with the ashes of dead babies"). Overall, though, it's Brown that rules Motorcade. His bubbly guitar on "Haze of Love," the chugging scale-step in "Is This Love?" and of course the sprawling entirety of "Mr. Mastodon's Farm," the album's most memorable song that's so gorgeously punctuated with his palm mutes.

It's a feel-good album for sure, the sounds always bright and airy, the songs never weighed down by worry or introspection. Motorcade is completely self-conscious of every aspect of itself, and it couldn't be more pleased. And for good reason.