Released: June 17, 2008
DIY is a term often associated with punk rock, not soul, but soul artist Mingering Mike embodies that ethic as well if not better than the most serious punk purist. Super Gold Greatest Hits is a homemade album of Mike’s soul songs recorded with only vocals and percussion (which amounts to whatever was around when he made these home tapes). To boot, he made these recordings in the late 60s, well before underground rock established the trend of bypassing traditional models in order to get your music out. Does Mingering Mike hold up next to his great contemporaries like Marvin Gaye? Of course not, but he doesn’t have to. Mike’s creativity is actually heightened by the limitations of his methods.
Interestingly enough, if there’s any album to which I’d compare Super Gold Greatest Hits, it’s Fugazi-bassist Joe Lally’s There to Here. It’s not that they sound the same, but they share a minimalist approach and a sense of understated soul that’s ready to explode. So, while Mingering Mike’s style is more along the lines of Motown, his heart is more in line with Dischord. The message of both is simple: If you want to make music, just do it.
There’s nothing on here that’s on par with “What’s Going On,” but Mingering Mike does have the power of soul mixed with the everyman nature of folk music that makes it clear that not only listening, but creating can be done by anyone. It’s a tough listen in a lot of ways, but its creative and inspirational qualities make it worth the effort.
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