Album Cover
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Tell Balgeary, Balgury is Dead (Plus Solo)
October 07, 2003


But these would have been such good songs. This would have made such a good album. But Ted sans Rx is, sadly, no Ted at all, or mediocre Ted, at best. There are backing guitars in places, or possibly dubbed walls of Ted, but this half-hour or so lacks so much, so, so much that is so desperately needed. It's still pleasant for the odd listen - the empty electric guitar and Leo's impassioned warble are close- and warm-sounding enough to have something of a personal or intimate sound - but, with Pharmacists, these songs would be powerful, powerful entities and we would be powerless to stop them. We are robbed. Ted is laughing at us right now.

Open on: "Tell Balgeary, Balgury is Dead", verbatim from Hearts of Oak (any highlight of Hearts of Oak is a highlight here). Immediately thereafter, you realize something isn't right. Ted's solo "High Party" just should not be; it is exactly the wrong song to be performed solo. Leo turns out a decent performance, but, again, so much is missing, and it's just not right. "The Sword in the Stone" is one of the songs on this album that works relatively well as a solo (but would be so much better etc). Five unremarkable and ultimately forgettable songs follow (damn you, Leo, instrumentate) until we arrive at the last actual song, "Loyal to My Sorrowful Country", the final highlight of the album, with an infectiously repetitive chorus ("No more shall I be / Loyal to my sorrowful country") but rrrrrghhgh why not more things, things in the background, why.

So, Leo, listen good. Take this album (or the best parts of it, anyway) and put them, with a proper instrument foundation, on your next mega-hit long-player. The die-hardest fans will embrace this flatly mediocre little disc, and love it for its admittedly novel personality and despite its gaping flaws. Meantime, everyone else will be over there, rocking properly.

Noah Jackson

Track List

  1. Tell Balgeary, Balgury is Dead
  2. The High Party (Solo)
  3. The Sword in the Stone
  4. Bleeding Powers
  5. Dirty Old Town
  6. Ghosts
  7. (Decaying Artifact)
  8. Six Months in a Leaky Boat
  9. Loyal to My Sorrowful Country